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Anita Roberts

Anita B. Roberts (April 3 1942 – May 26 2006) was a molecular biologist who made pioneering observations of a protein, TGF beta, 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 [1], and continued her research 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, called T.G.F.-beta, short for transforming growth factor beta.

Dr. Roberts isolated the protein from bovine kidney tissue and compared her results with T.G.F.-beta 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.

T.G.F.-beta was later shown to have an effect on regulation of the heartbeat and the response of the eye to aging.

In later research, Dr. Roberts and others found that T.G.F.-beta inhibits the growth of some cancers while stimulating growth in advanced cancers, including cancers of the breast and lung.

Dr. Roberts was a former president of the Wound Healing Society. In 2005, she was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Roberts herself was diagnosed cancer, 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. She died on May 26 2006, aged 64.

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


  1. ^ Laboratory of Cell Regulation and Carcinogenesis
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Anita_Roberts". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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