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|Anita B. Roberts|
April 3, 1942|
|Died||March 26, 2006(aged 63)|
Anita B. Roberts (April 3, 1942 – May 26, 2006) was a molecular biologist who made pioneering observations of a protein, TGF-β, that is critical in healing wounds and bone fractures and that has a dual role in blocking or stimulating cancers. Roberts was the 49th most-cited scientist in the world and the second most-cited female scientist as of 2005.
Roberts was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where she grew up. She attended Oberlin College and earned her doctorate in biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1968. After postdoctoral work at Harvard Medical School, Dr. Roberts joined the National Cancer Institute in 1976. From 1995 to 2004, she served as Chief of the institute's Laboratory of Cell Regulation and Carcinogenesis, and continued her research there until her death in 2006.
In the early-1980s, Dr. Roberts and her colleagues at the National Cancer Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland began to experiment with the protein transforming growth factor beta, commonly referred to as TGF-β.
Dr. Roberts isolated the protein from bovine kidney tissue and compared her results with TGF-β taken from human blood platelets and placental tissue. Institute researchers then began a series of experiments to determine the protein's characteristics. They discovered that it helps play a central role in signaling other growth factors in the body to heal wounds and fractures speedily.
TGF-β was later shown to have additional effects, including regulation of the heartbeat and the response of the eye to aging. In her continuing research, Dr. Roberts and others found that TGF-β inhibits the growth of some cancers while stimulating growth in advanced cancers, including cancers of the breast and lung.
Roberts herself was diagnosed with stage IV gastric cancer in March 2004. She received a degree of fame in the cancer community for her blog, detailing her daily struggles with the disease.
Awards and recognition
Dr. Roberts was the recipient of several awards for her contributions to the field of science. These include:
- FASEB Excellence in Science Award - 2005
- Leopold Griffuel Prize
- Komen Brinker Award for Scientific Distinction-2005
- "Wound Healing Society: Anita Roberts Award". Retrieved September 13, 2013.