North­eastern Uni­ver­sity junior Steven Criscione has been awarded a schol­ar­ship from the Barry M. Gold­water Schol­ar­ship and Excel­lence in Edu­ca­tion Foun­da­tion for the 2009–2010 aca­d­emic year for his research on DNA repair and enzyme activity. This award—considered one of the most com­pet­i­tive sci­ence schol­ar­ships in the country—is granted annu­ally to top under­grad­uate stu­dents studying math, sci­ence and engi­neering to help them advance in their careers.

Criscione, a bio­chem­istry major, is the fourth stu­dent from North­eastern to be awarded this scholarship.

Steven is a truly gifted stu­dent and this award rec­og­nizes his out­standing future poten­tial,” said Phyllis Strauss, Matthews dis­tin­guished pro­fessor of biology, who nom­i­nated Criscione for the award.

The focus of Criscione’s research project, which he detailed in his pro­posal, is to deter­mine the mech­a­nism of a DNA repair enzyme. His work expands on that of a former North­eastern doc­toral can­di­date, Sophia Mundle, to iden­tify whether human AP endonu­clease, a DNA repair enzyme, works directly or indi­rectly to repair DNA lesions. For example, when chemother­a­peu­tics damage DNA during cancer treat­ment, AP endonu­clease can ini­tiate repair of the damage. This process has the poten­tial to impact how cancer is treated in the future.

Criscione worked at Gen­zyme Corporation’s during a co-​​op last fall as part of the Cancer Immunology Research Group, which is focused on drug devel­op­ment and design. His long-​​term research goals “involve a career in the bio­med­ical sci­ences with a focus on drug dis­covery and ther­a­peutic design,” said Criscione. “I hope to make a con­tri­bu­tion to sci­ence and society by tack­ling dif­fi­cult prob­lems in the lab­o­ra­tory and pro­viding a better under­standing of disease.”

To win the schol­ar­ship, stu­dents must submit an appli­ca­tion and a research pro­posal describing how this schol­ar­ship will help their careers. Six­teen North­eastern stu­dents sub­mitted pro­posals this year to the North­eastern Gold­water Review Com­mittee, and four of these were sent on to the Gold­water Foun­da­tion for consideration.

Thou­sands of stu­dents are nom­i­nated each year for this schol­ar­ship by fac­ulty mem­bers at col­leges across the United States, and no more than 300 are awarded, making this one of the top honors for under­grad­u­ates studying sci­ences. This year, 1,092 stu­dents were nom­i­nated and 278 were chosen to receive a schol­ar­ship, which covers tuition, fees, books, room and board, up to a max­imum of $7,500 per year.

The Gold­water Foun­da­tion is a fed­er­ally endowed agency estab­lished by Public Law 99–661 on November 14, 1986. The Schol­ar­ship Pro­gram hon­oring Sen­ator Barry M. Gold­water was designed to foster and encourage out­standing stu­dents to pursue careers in the fields of math­e­matics, the nat­ural sci­ences and engi­neering. The Gold­water Schol­ar­ship is the pre­mier under­grad­uate award of its type in these fields.