Newswise — BETHESDA, MD – June 14, 2012 – The zebrafish research community and the Genetics Society of America (GSA) are pleased to announce the selection of David Kokel, Ph.D., a postdoctoral researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and Harvard Medical School (HMS), as the first recipient of the Chi-Bin Chien Award.

The Chi-Bin Chien Award was established this year by the zebrafish research community in memory of Chi-Bin Chien, Ph.D. (1965-2011), a prominent researcher and active volunteer within the zebrafish community. The award, which is administered by the Genetics Society of America, honors an outstanding graduate student, postdoctoral researcher, or recently appointed faculty member who has made significant contributions to the field of zebrafish research and has exhibited the generosity and openness that characterized and motivated Dr. Chien in his lifetime.

The Chi-Bin Chien Award includes a cash award and international recognition as an invited speaker at the bi-annual International Conference on Zebrafish Development and Genetics. Dr. Kokel was selected for research that has helped to establish the fast and automated analysis of behavior-based neuroactive drug discovery in the zebrafish and for “his sincere and generous spirit” that has fostered “a strong sense of community within the zebrafish labs” at MGH, as expressed by his mentor, Randall T. Peterson, Ph.D., who recommended Dr. Kokel for this award.

“In choosing the first Chi-Bin Chien awardee, the committee was looking for the combination of excellence in zebrafish research and the openness and community-mindedness that characterized Chi-Bin’s career” says Cecilia Moens, Ph.D. (Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center), chair of the award committee. “Through inventiveness and hard work, Dr. Kokel has pioneered the use of zebrafish in the field of neuropharmacology, and has shared his tools and expertise within the zebrafish community and beyond,” she added.

Dr. Kokel received his Ph.D. from the University of Colorado, Boulder, working on the molecular, genetic and chemical regulation of apoptosis in C. elegans. He has a B.A. in molecular biology and genetics from the University of California, Berkeley. He holds a National Institute of Mental Health mentored research award (2011-2015) and an American College of Neuropsychopharmacology Travel Award (2011-2015). Dr. Kokel serves as a teaching assistant for the Zebrafish Development and Genetics Course at the Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory.

Dr. Chien was a professor of neurobiology and anatomy at the University of Utah School of Medicine and was a teacher, scholar and innovator known for his zebrafish research on neural system development. He also was an ardent supporter of the international zebrafish community, serving as Director of the Zebrafish Neural Development and Genetics Course at the Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory and was an organizer of the International Conference on Zebrafish Genetics and Development. He also gave generously with his time and expertise to mentor and support the development of young scientists and was collaborative and generous with his colleagues in contributing to the advance of research with zebrafish.

Dr. Kokel will receive the Chi-Bin Chien Award at the upcoming 10th Annual International Conference on Zebrafish Development and Genetics (June 20-24) with the award presentation scheduled for Friday, June 22 at 2:20 p.m. in Overture Hall at the Overture Center for the Arts in Madison, WI.

ABOUT THE INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON ZEBRAFISH GENETICS AND DEVELOPMENT: The zebrafish emerged as a major model system in 1994 with the first international conference at Cold Spring Harbor with 350 participants. This year the zebrafish community celebrates its 10th biennial international conference with more than 900 participants in Madison, WI. Studies using the zebrafish as a model system have allowed us to understand the genetic control of early development that underlie many human diseases. For more information about the conference, see

ABOUT GSA: Founded in 1931, the Genetics Society of America (GSA) is the professional membership organization for scientific researchers, educators, bioengineers, bioinformaticians and others interested in the field of genetics. Its nearly 5,000 members work to advance knowledge in the basic mechanisms of inheritance, from the molecular to the population level. GSA is dedicated to promoting research in genetics and to facilitating communication among geneticists worldwide through its conferences, including the biennial conference on Model Organisms to Human Biology, an interdisciplinary meeting on current and cutting edge topics in genetics research, as well as annual and biennial meetings that focus on the genetics of particular organisms, including C. elegans, Drosophila, fungi, mice, yeast, and zebrafish. GSA publishes GENETICS, a leading journal in the field and an online, open-access journal, G3: Genes|Genomes|Genetics. For more information about GSA, please visit Also follow GSA on Facebook at and on Twitter @GeneticsGSA.