Grace Pickford Medal lecture

Award Description

The Grace Pickford Medal Lecture was created in honor of Dr. Grace Evelyn Pickford, an outstanding scientist, and a leading pioneer in the field of comparative endocrinology. The Grace Pickford Medal recognizes the achievements of a comparative endocrinologist under the age of 45 and the Lecture is presented at the quadrennial International Congress of Comparative Endocrinology (ICCE).

Biography of Dr. Pickford

GraceGrace Evelyn Pickford (1902-86) was born at Bournemouth, England. As an undergraduate, she studied at Newnham College, Cambridge University. She then traveled to South Africa on a two-year fellowship to perform limnological studies as well as to collect and study earthworms. In 1931, she received her PhD at Yale University based on studies of her South African oligochaete collection and joined Yale’s Bingham Oceanographic Laboratory, where she held various research positions for the next 40 years. She taught at the women’s college Albert Magnus in New Haven from 1934 to 1948, was promoted to associate professor in 1959, and finally made a full professor of biology at Yale in 1969. She retired in 1970 but spent 16 more years as a Distinguished Scientist in Residence at Hiram College. She died on January 20th, 1986.

While Professor Pickford was recognized as an authority in oligochaete systematics, cephalopod biology, and comparative endocrinology, she is best known for her pioneering work in the field of fish endocrinology. Using the killifish Fundulus heteroclitus as an experimental model, her extensive studies on the pituitary shed light on the control of growth, reproduction, the thyroid gland, pigmentation, osmoregulation, the endocrine stress response, and led to the seminal discovery that prolactin is required to maintain osmotic balance in freshwater. In the course of her prolific work on the killifish, she also devised numerous ingenious instruments and techniques that lay the ground for future studies in fish endocrinology. In 1981, Dr. Pickford was awarded Yale’s Wilbur Cross Medal in recognition of outstanding achievement in professional life.

Biography credits: Ball, J.N. (1987) In Memoriam Grace E. Pickford (1902-1986). Gen Comp Endocrinol. 65: 162–165.

Previous Recipients

1981 (Hong Kong): Paul Licht (University of California, Berkeley, USA) and Hiroko Nishimura (University of Tennessee Health Science Center, USA)
1985 (Copper Mountain): Richard E. Peter (University of Alberta, Canada)
1989 (Malaga): Yoshitaka Nagahama (National Institute for Basic Biology, Okazaki, Japan)
1993 (Toronto): Stephen Tobe (University of Toronto, Canada) and Hubert Vaudry (Université de Rouen, France)
1997 (Yokohama): John Chang (University of Alberta, Canada)
2001 (Sorrento): Hamid Habibi (University of Calgary, Canada)
2005 (Boston): Billy Chow (University of Hong Kong, SAR, China)
2009 (Hong Kong): Jae Young Seong (Korea University College of Medicine, Korea)
2013 (Barcelona): Suraj Unniappan (University of Saskatchewan, Canada)
2017 (Lake Louise): Kataaki Okubo (University of Tokyo, Japan)
2022 (Faro): Deborah Lutterschmidt (University of California Irvine, USA)