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AAAS honors VU faculty

BY: LEIGH MACMILLAN

1/08/2010 - Seven Vanderbilt University faculty members have been elected Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), an honor bestowed upon them by their AAAS peers.

They are among 531 AAAS members from around the country who achieved this honor because of their distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications. With these additions, Vanderbilt University now counts 39 AAAS Fellows among its faculty.

The newest AAAS Fellows are:

• Randy Blakely, Ph.D.
• James Crowe Jr., M.D.
• Kathryn Edwards, M.D.
• Martin Egli, Ph.D.
• Jonathan Haines, Ph.D.
• Billy Hudson, Ph.D.
• Louis Muglia, M.D., Ph.D.

Randy Blakely, Ph.D.

Randy Blakely, Ph.D.

James Crowe Jr., M.D.

James Crowe Jr., M.D.

Kathryn Edwards, M.D.

Kathryn Edwards, M.D.

Martin Egli, Ph.D.

Martin Egli, Ph.D.

Jonathan Haines, Ph.D.

Jonathan Haines, Ph.D.

Billy Hudson, Ph.D.

Billy Hudson, Ph.D.

Louis Muglia, M.D., Ph.D.

Louis Muglia, M.D., Ph.D.

Blakely, Allan D. Bass Professor of Pharmacology and Psychiatry, was honored for his contributions to understanding how neurotransmitter transporters — proteins that “clear” neurotransmitter chemicals from the synapse between neurons — support signaling in the nervous system. Blakely and colleagues have applied a multi-disciplinary approach to explore how neurotransmitter transporters work and whether defects in their activity contribute to altered physiology, behavior and brain disorders.

Crowe, professor of Pediatrics in the Department of Pediatrics, was commended for his contributions to the fields of vaccine sciences and human immunology, especially the development of new viral vaccines and human monoclonal antibodies. Crowe's team is currently focusing on respiratory syncytial virus, influenza virus, rotavirus, dengue virus and vaccinia virus, and several of the recombinant human antibodies generated by the group are being commercially developed.

Edwards, Sarah H. Sell Professor of Pediatrics, was cited for her contributions to the fields of pediatric infectious diseases and vaccine science, particularly for evaluation of vaccines against respiratory viruses and bacteria. As director of the Vanderbilt Vaccine Research Program, Edwards has conducted and coordinated multicenter trials of vaccines for influenza, including the new H1N1 vaccine, pertussis, pneumonia and vaccinia.

Egli, professor of Biochemistry, was honored for contributing to the understanding of important nucleic acid and protein structures.
Egli's group uses X-ray crystallography and other structural biology approaches to probe the three-dimensional structures of DNA and RNA (native and chemically modified), circadian clock proteins and trans-lesion DNA polymerases.

Haines, T.H. Morgan Professor of Human Genetics and professor of Molecular Physiology & Biophysics, was cited for his contributions to the field of human genomics. Haines, who also directs the Center for Human Genetics Research, and his colleagues have identified genes involved in common and complex diseases such as multiple sclerosis, autism, Alzheimer's disease and age-related macular degeneration.

Hudson, Elliott V. Newman Professor of Medicine, was commended for his contributions to the fields of cell matrix biochemistry and pathophysiology, particularly for establishing the roles of collagen biochemistry in renal diseases. His team's findings have led to the development of drugs now in trial for treating diabetic renal disease and neovascular diseases such as tumor growth and metastasis.

Muglia, Edward Claiborne Stahlman Professor of Pediatrics, was honored for his contributions to unraveling the genetics and physiology of the mammalian stress response and parturition (birth), and for mentorship of students and colleagues. In current studies, he and his colleagues are searching for genes that increase the risk of preterm birth and impact on the racial disparity in risk for preterm birth.

Founded in 1848, the AAAS is the world's largest federation of scientists and includes some 262 affiliated societies and academies, serving 10 million individuals.

The association works to advance science for human well-being through its projects, programs and publications. It conducts many programs in the areas of science policy, science education and international scientific cooperation.

New Fellows will be presented with an official certificate and a gold and blue rosette pin on Saturday, Feb. 20, at the 2010 AAAS Annual Meeting in San Diego.

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