MBL Society Member Thoru Pederson honored and “revealed” by American Society for Cell Biology

One of the past decade’s mysteries in the field of cell biology has been, “Who is ‘Labby,’ the beloved and popular career advice columnist in the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) Newsletter?”

At the society’s annual meeting last month, the mystery was solved as Thoru Pederson of the University of Massachusetts Medical School, a longtime affiliate of the MBL, was honored with ASCB’s Distinguished Service Award and – to the audience’s delight — identified as having the nom de plume “Labby.”

In accepting the award, Pederson said penning the Labby column was “a profound privilege,” not only in sharing whatever seasoned advice he may have for young scientists trying to navigate their careers, but “on a more personal level, to perhaps be a friend in a situation where there wasn’t someone in your lab or department that could be that friend.”

An alumnus of the 1965 Embryology course, Pederson has been affiliated with the MBL in various capacities ever since, including seven years on the Physiology course faculty. At UMass Medical, Pederson is the Vitold Arnett Professor of Cell Biology, Professor of Biochemistry & Molecular Pharmacology, and Associate Vice Provost for Research.

Pederson’s research is currently focused on the live-cell dynamics of CRISPR gene-editing machinery, as well as its potential applications to myotonic dystrophy and ALS. He has longstanding interests in the functional significance of specific protein-RNA interactions in eukaryotic gene expression, with an emphasis on RNA traffic and processing, as well as specialized domains within the cell nucleus.