Joan A. Steitz, Ph.D., Sterling Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, has been named the 2013 Grand Medal winner by the French Academy of Sciences. Each year, the Grand Medal, the Academy’s highest honor, is awarded to a French national or to a foreign scientist who has made “remarkable and decisive” contributions to his or her field.
Steitz is best known for her pioneering work with non-coding RNA. With her student Michael Lerner, she discovered and later defined the contribution of small ribonucleoproteins (snRNPs) to the cellular process of making proteins. She is also recognized for her work encouraging women to pursue careers in science. Her honors include the National Medal of Science, the Gairdner Foundation International Award, the Lewis S. Rosenstiel Award for Distinguished Work in Basic Medical Research, the E.B. Wilson Medal from the American Society for Cell Biology.