Yale Evolutionary Biologist Nancy Moran Wins Coveted Japanese Science Prize

Yale University’s Nancy Moran, the William H. Fleming Professor of Biology, has been awarded the International Prize for Biology by the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science for her work on symbiotic relationships between insects and bacteria that live within them.

The annual award, which commemorates the 60-year reign of Emperor Showa, was announced Oct. 7 and carries a prize of 10 million yen (about $120,000).

Moran was a 1997 recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship and is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and current chair of the Section on Evolutionary Biology of the National Academy. She researches the genetic co-evolution between aphids and the symbiotic bacteria.

The former University of Arizona scientist was recruited by Yale in 2009 to help anchor new research efforts at the Microbial Diversity Institute at Yale’s West Campus.

In announcing the award, which is open to scientists of all countries, the Committee on the International Prize for Biology noted: “Dr. Moran has contributed greatly to the advancement of the biology of symbiosis in recent years through her studies of intimate co-evolutionary relationships between insects and the endosymbiotic bacteria that live within them. Her studies have yielded by far the largest number of outstanding research results in this field thanks to Dr. Moran’s versatile approach, which draws on molecular biology, genomics, and experimental and theoretical biology.”