May 01, 2015

Chow honored by Birmingham International Center

Written by
Louise T. Chow, Ph.DChow sized., the Anderson Family Endowed Chair and professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, has been chosen as one of the Women of Consequence honorees for the 2015 International Women’s Day Awards Dinner, hosted by the Birmingham International Center.

Chow, one of the world's foremost researchers of human papillomaviruses, is one of two women being honored as part of the Birmingham International Center’s 2015 Spotlight on the People’s Republic of China. Chow was born in Hunan Province and completed her undergraduate training in agricultural chemistry at National Taiwan University before earning her doctorate in chemistry from the California Institute of Technology in 1973, where she became an expert in using electron microscopy of nucleic acids to analyze the genome organization of bacteria and bacterial viruses.

After post-doctoral training at the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center, she joined Cold Spring Harbor (N.Y.) Laboratory in 1975, studying gene regulation by bacteriophage Mu DNA inversion and adenovirus RNA transcription and DNA replication.  Using electron microscopy and the adenovirus molecular genetic system, she and her collaborators discovered mRNA splicing and alternative mRNA splicing, processes critical for deciphering the human genome and for developing molecular medicine.  The 1993 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to her collaborator for this discovery. 

Chow moved to the University of Rochester School of Medicine in 1984 to study the pathogenesis, molecular biology and biochemistry of human papillomaviruses.  In 1993, she joined the faculty at UAB as professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics and is a senior scientist in the Comprehensive Cancer Center, Skin Diseases Research Center and the Center for AIDS Research.  Chow and her research team at UAB developed a system to recapitulate the entire infection cycle of HPV type 18 and to produce abundant infectious virions in organotypic skin cell cultures.  HPV-18 is one of the dominant HPV types that causes cervical cancers, allowing researchers to advance HPV genetic analysis, to investigate HPV pathobiology and to pursue targeted antiviral drug discovery.

She was the 1996 Medalist of the American College of Physicians “in recognition of contributions to human welfare through distinguished achievement in the science of medicine.”  In 2012, Chow was elected a foreign associate of the National Academy of Sciences for excellence in original scientific research, one of the highest honors given to a scientist in the United States. She is an Academician of the Academia Sinica (Taiwan) and a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology.

The Birmingham International Center is the nation's oldest cultural education organization. Since 1951, BIC has grown into a resource for international business-education needs, including intercultural training, heritage and arts programming. The International Women’s Day Awards Dinner begins at 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 5 at The Club. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit the Birmingham International Center website.