Sarah Spiegel

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Sarah Spiegel
Education BSc., Hebrew University of Jerusalem
PhD., Weizmann Institute of Science
Known for Discovery of sphingosine-1-phosphate molecule
Scientific career
Fields Cell biology, biochemistry
Institutions Virginia Commonwealth University
VCU Massey Cancer Center

Sarah Spiegel is Professor and Chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). In the mid-1990s she discovered the sphingosine-1-phosphate molecule, a lipid which has been identified as a signaler for the spread of cancer, inflammation, and cardiovascular disease. She runs the Spiegel-Milstien Lab, which studies S1P, at VCU, and is also director of the VCU Massey Cancer Center in Richmond, Virginia.[1]


Sarah Spiegel received her bachelor of science degree in chemistry and biochemistry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1974.[1] She did graduate work in biochemistry under Professor Meir Wilchek at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel,[2] where she earned her PhD in biochemistry in 1983,[1] before relocating to the United States.[2]


Spiegel did a postdoctoral fellowship at the Membrane Biochemistry Section at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, from 1984 to 1986.[1][2] She then moved to Georgetown University School of Medicine to serve as Assistant Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from 1987 to 1992, and Associate Professor and Director of the Graduate Program in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from 1992 to 1996. This was followed by a full professorship in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University Medical School from 1996 to 2001.[1]

Spiegel became Professor and Chair of the Department of Biochemistry at Virginia Commonwealth University in 2002, a position she holds to this day. Since 2005, she has also served as Director of the Cancer Cell Biology Program at the VCU Massey Cancer Center.[1]

S1P research[edit]

Spiegel is credited with the discovery of the sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P) molecule in the mid-1990s.[3] This molecule has been identified as a signaler in the spread of cancer, inflammation, and cardiovascular disease.[3] In 2013 Spiegel and Santiago Lima, PhD, reported in the journal Structure on their discovery of the atomic structure of the enzyme sphingosine kinase 1, which produces the S1P molecule.[3]

Spiegel's research has been continually funded for a period of nearly 20 years by grants from the National Institutes of Health.[3] In 2003 she was awarded the National Institutes of Health MERIT Award of nearly $2.1 million for further research on S1P.[3]

She is a frequent presenter at national and international conferences.[4][5][6][7]

Other activities[edit]

Since 2000, she has served on the editorial boards of the Journal of Biological Chemistry, Glycoconjugate Journal, Biochimica et Biophysica Acta, and Signal Transduction.[1]

Awards and honors[edit]

  • 2007: VCU Women in Science, Dentistry and Medicine Professional Achievement Award[1]
  • 2007: University Distinguished Scholarship Award[1]
  • 2008: Virginia's Outstanding Scientist[8]
  • 2009 Avanti Award in Lipids[2]

Selected bibliography[edit]




  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Sarah Spiegel". Asthma and Allergic Diseases Cooperative Research Center. 2010. Retrieved 2 September 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Sarah Spiegel to Receive the 2009 Avanti Award". American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Retrieved 2 September 2015. 
  3. ^ a b c d e "Massey researcher provides expert commentary on enzyme's role in cancer and inflammation". Virginia Commonwealth University. 17 May 2013. Retrieved 2 September 2015. 
  4. ^ "Michael, Marcia, and Christa Parseghian Scientific Conference for Niemann-Pick Type C Research, June 12-14, 2014" (PDF). University of Notre Dame. 2014. Retrieved 2 September 2015. 
  5. ^ "Inflammation, January 24-27, 2016" (PDF). Miami 2016 Winter Symposium. 2015. Retrieved 2 September 2015. 
  6. ^ "Glycolipid & Sphingolipid Biology". Gordon Research Conferences. 2015. Retrieved 2 September 2015. 
  7. ^ "Affinity and Biorecognition". Weizmann Institute of Science. 2000. Retrieved 2 September 2015. 
  8. ^ "Gov Kaine Announces 2008 Outstanding Scientists and Industrialists". US Fed News Service. 1 February 2008. Retrieved 2 September 2015.  (HighBeam subscription)

External links[edit]