Dr. Nancy Carrasco named C.N.H. Long Professor

Dr. Nancy Carrasco
Dr. Nancy Carrasco

Dr. Nancy Carrasco, who has been appointed the C.N.H. Long Professor of Cellular and Molecular Physiology, is a leader in the study of cell membrane transporters.

She was the first scientist to clone and extensively characterize at the molecular level the sodium/iodide symporter (NIS), the key plasma membrane protein that mediates the active transport of iodide in the thyroid, lactating breast, and other tissues. Her research team also discovered that functional NIS is endogenously expressed in breast cancer and its metastases, suggesting that NIS-mediated radioiodide therapy may be effective in treating breast cancer. Carrasco’s research team has shown that NIS actively transports the anion perchlorate, an environmental pollutant, revealing that the health effects of exposure to perchlorate are more serious than previously thought. By analyzing NIS mutations that cause congenital iodide transport defect, Dr. Carrasco and her group have identified key NIS residues involved in substrate selectivity, substrate specificity, and stoichiometry—discoveries that may make it possible to optimize the clinical use of NIS and extend it beyond thyroid disease. Her wider research interests include regulation of membrane proteins, molecular endocrinology and metabolism, and thyroid cancer and breast cancer.

Carrasco earned her M.D. and M.S. (in biochemistry) from the National Autonomous University of Mexico. She did her postdoctoral training at the Roche Institute of Molecular Biology. She joined the faculty at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in 1987 and began teaching at the Yale School of Medicine in 2011. At Yale, she is also affiliated with the Liver Center and the Yale Cancer Center.

Carrasco’s research has been published in Nature, Nature Medicine, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and other leading medical journals. She is the recipient of the Pew Award in the Biomedical Sciences, the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation Award, the Maria Sibylla Merian Award (Germany), the Merck Prize from the European Thyroid Association (Poland), the Marshall S. Horwitz Faculty Award (New York), and the Light of Life Award, among other honors. She was named a Coleman Fellow in the Life Sciences in Israel.

Carrasco has served as president of the Society of Latin American Biophysicists. She was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2015.

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