Xiaowei Zhuang to receive the 2019 Pearl Meister Greengard Prize

October 29, 2019
Xiaowei Zhuang, in her lab

The award honors women whose work has transformed the field of biomedical science


Today, the Rockefeller University announced that Xiaowei Zhuang will receive the 2019 Pearl Meister Greengard Prize. Every year, the award committee selects one woman from the international field of biomedical sciences.

Zhuang, the David B. Arnold Jr. Professor of Science at Harvard University and Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, earned her award for inventing novel molecular-imaging techniques, which she has used to explore undiscovered corners of biological systems like the human body.

Her invention STochastic Optical Reconstruction Microscopy (STORM) was one of the first and most widely used super-resolution imaging methods. Using fluorescent probes that are activated at different times, the STORM technology produces images with much higher resolution than can be obtained with conventional fluorescent microscopy. This invention facilitated her exploration of novel cellular structures and processes like the regulation of gene expression and the organization and functions of new types of neurons in the brain.

Paul Greengard, who died earlier this year at age 93, was a lifelong advocate for gender equality in science. When he won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2000, he donated his monetary share of the prize to Rockefeller and, in partnership with generous supporters, established an annual award to recognize outstanding women scientists. The prize, which includes a $100,000 honorarium, is named for Greengard’s mother, who died during his birth.

“This remarkable award celebrates the achievements of extraordinary women scientists, and serves as a lasting tribute to Dr. Greengard’s commitment to advancing equality and recognition for women in science,” said Titia de Lange, Rockefeller’s Leon Hess Professor and a member of the selection committee. “As we honor Dr. Zhuang, we continue the tradition of highlighting research that is fundamentally changing the course of scientific discovery.”

Zhuang is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the recipient of many other honors, including the 2019 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences Award for Scientific Discovery, the Dr. H.P. Heineken Prize for Biochemistry and Biophysics, and a MacArthur Fellowship. She will receive her award at a ceremony on November 19 at the Rockefeller University.