Isabel Lam Awarded 2016 Chairman’s Prize

Isabel Lam

2016 Gerstner Sloan Kettering graduate student Isabel Lam.

Isabel Lam, a 2016 alumnae of Gerstner Sloan Kettering, has been awarded the Chairman’s Prize for her first-author paper “Nonparadoxical evolutionary stability of the recombination initiation landscape in yeast,” published in Science in 2015. Isabel completed her graduate research in the laboratory of Scott Keeney.

Isabel describes her paper below:

“Meiosis is a cell division that generates sperm and egg and results in a halving of the number of chromosomes. In most organisms, meiotic recombination is crucial for the accurate partitioning of chromosomes. Furthermore, the distribution of recombination sites across the genome has implications for the creation of new haplotype blocks and for genome integrity. A subject of great debate in the field has been whether recombination sites can be conserved over evolutionary time scales. The present study used genome-wide mapping of meiotic DNA double-strand breaks — sites where recombination begins — in diverged Saccharomyces species. The maps reveal a remarkably high degree of conservation in recombination initiation sites, despite up to 15 million years of evolution. These findings settle the debate about whether conservation of recombination sites is at all possible and broaden our perspective of the evolutionary dynamics of recombination in other species, including birds, mice, and humans.”

The Chairman’s Prize, awarded annually, was established by Gerstner Sloan Kettering Board of Trustees Chair Louis V. Gerstner, Jr., for whom the graduate school is named. Mr. Gerstner is an internationally renowned corporate leader who has long been an advocate of quality education.