Two Yale faculty elected to the National Academy of Sciences

Two Yale professors have been elected as new members of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), considered one of science’s highest honors.
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John Carlson, left, and Jorge Galan

Two Yale professors have been elected as new members of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), considered one of science’s highest honors.

At its annual meeting on May 1, the NAS announced the election of Jorge Galan, the Lucille P. Markey Professor of Microbial Pathogenesis, professor of cell biology, and chair of the section of Microbial Pathogenesis at the Yale School of Medicine; and John Carlson, the Higgins Professor of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology. The Yale scientists are among 84 new members and 21 foreign associates elected this year.

Galan is an expert on infectious bacteria that causes diarrhea, an affliction that kills about two million people annually. Winner of the 2011 Koch Prize, one of the highest honors in microbiology, Galan has employed genetics, biochemistry, cell biology, and immunology to study the pathogenesis of Salmonella enterica and Campylobacter jejuni. His lab discovered novel molecular mechanisms that lead to infection and illness, and are potential targets for a new class of antimicrobials.

“Jorge combines extraordinary science with outstanding leadership and a dynamic vision for the field of microbiology,” said Dr. Robert J. Alpern, dean of Yale School of Medicine and the Ensign Professor of Medicine. “I am delighted that his accomplishments have been recognized by the membership of NAS.”

Carlson’s work has shown great promise in advancing the fight against infectious diseases, such as malaria, that are spread by insects. A recently named Guggenheim fellow, Carlson is one of the world’s experts in insect olfaction. In one experiment, Carlson’s lab was able to activate mosquito olfaction genes in a fruit fly. The findings enabled researchers to identify chemicals in human sweat that attract mosquitoes, and may form the basis of new traps or insect repellants.

“John’s creative approach to scientific problems and his ability to clearly convey complex ideas in both the classroom and the lab makes him a truly remarkable scientist,” said Steven Girvin, deputy provost for science and technology as well as the Eugene Higgins Professor of Physics and professor of applied physics at Yale. “His work on smell and taste sensing spans the full range from individual molecules to behavior.”

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. It currently boasts approximately 2,200 members and 420 foreign associates. More than 300 members of the NAS and its affiliate organizations — The Institute of Medicine and The National Academy of Engineering — are Nobel laureates.

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