Michael Menaker, professor of biology and an international leader in the field of circadian rhythm research, received the Peter C. Farrell Prize in Sleep Medicine from the Harvard Medical School Division of Sleep Medicine during an event there on June 6.
The prize was awarded "in celebration of the life and work of Michael Menaker, trailblazer in circadian biology and prescient illuminator of how Light and Dark, the alternating ancient heritages of our planet, come to govern and synchronize living clocks."
Menaker was cited as a "ground-breaking investigator of the first circadian genetic mutation in mammals as well as the architect of landmark experiments that elucidate how central and peripheral circadian oscillators are coordinated to each other and with the environment.
Previously Menaker was honored with Virginia's Outstanding Scientists and Industrialists 2003 Lifetime Achievement Award.
Mike is my academic grandfather, which makes me a very common beast, really! Yes, he has published amazing stuff over the decades and did some really pioneering and revolutionary science. But, his probably greatest contribution to science is the enormous number of students he has advised over the years. He finishes every talk by showing slides (two slides? three these days?) with many, many names of all of his graduate students (typed in a freerunning actograph style) which reads like a who-is-who of Chronobiology. And that is just first generation of his academic offspring - the academic grandkids and great-grandkids are all over the world as well, doing top-notch and exciting science.
It is a travesty that Mike has not yet been inducted into the National Academy of Sciences. Many of us in the field hope that it will be soon.
It is interesting that this article notes the first mammalian clock mutant which was really discovered by Martin Ralph and that just happened to happen in Menaker's lab, while it does not mention Menaker's huge contribution to the discovery and study of extra-retinal photoreception in non-mammalian vertebrates, the study of vertebrate photopeiodism, or even his PhD work under Pittendrigh on the circannual rhythms in bats.