Two Yale Researchers Elected to National Academy of Sciences, One of the Highest Honors Accorded to Scientists

Two Yale researchers have been elected to the National Academy of Sciences for distinguished and continued achievements in original research.

Jennifer A. Doudna, the Henry Ford II Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry and investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute; and Richard Anthony Flavell, professor and chair of immunobiology and investigator at Howard Hughes Medical Institute, were elected to the Academy during its 139th annual meeting. Membership in the academy is considered one of the highest honors that can be accorded an American scientist or engineer.

Doudna’s leading work in structural biology provided an answer to how RNA can act like an enzyme to catalyze specific biochemical reactions and how polyanionic RNA forms a three-dimensional structure.

Doudna, a member of the Yale faculty since 1994, began studying RNA as a graduate student with Jack Szostak at Harvard, and started her work on molecular structures of RNA as a postdoctoral fellow with Thomas Cech at the University of Colorado.

“Our research into the biochemistry of RNA continues to reveal surprises and we hope this work will eventually lead to a detailed understanding of both the functions of RNA in cells and the roles of RNA during viral infection,” said Doudna. “I am continually grateful to the many talented students and supportive colleagues I’ve had the pleasure of working with and I look forward to more scientific adventures.”

Flavell is known for his pioneering work in the structure and expression of eukaryotic genes. He is distinguished for his work on critical genes of the immune system and the application of genetic approaches to study immune function in vivo.

Flavell obtained his Ph.D. at the University of Hull in the UK, and following postdoctoral studies in The Netherlands and Switzerland, was a faculty member at the University of Amsterdam and the Head of the Laboratory of Gene Structure and Expression of the MRC National Institute of Medical Research, London. Upon moving to the United States he became the Chief Scientific Officer of the biotechnology company Biogen and in 1988 moved to his current position as Chair of the Section of Immunobiology and Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at Yale University.

The National Academy of Sciences is a private organization of scientists and engineers dedicated to furthering science and its use for the general welfare. The Academy was established in 1863 by a congressional act of incorporation signed by Abraham Lincoln that calls on the Academy to act as an official adviser to the Federal government, upon request, in any matter of science and technology.

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Karen N. Peart: karen.peart@yale.edu, 203-432-1326