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Nobelist is elected as a member of world’s oldest scientific society

Medicine@Yale, 2011 - July August


Thomas A. Steitz, Ph.D., Sterling Professor of Molecular Biochemistry and Biophysics, Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, and co-recipient of the 2010 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, is one of 8 scientists elected as Foreign Members of the Royal Society, the United Kingdom’s national academy of science.

Founded in 1660, the Royal Society is the world’s oldest scientific academy in continuous existence. Through its history, the roster of the Society’s Fellows and Foreign Members, elected for life on the basis of scientific excellence, has included Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Ernest Rutherford, Albert Einstein, Dorothy Hodgkin, Francis Crick, James Watson, and Stephen Hawking. Today there are approximately 1,500 Fellows and Foreign Members, including more than 80 Nobel Laureates.

Along with colleague Peter B. Moore and other Yale researchers, Steitz conducted groundbreaking research during the 1990s that determined the atomic structure of the ribosome, a protein-making machine in cells that is necessary to life. This work, which earned Steitz the Nobel Prize, has led to the creation of a new generation of antibiotics now in clinical trials.

According to a statement from the Society, Steitz was selected “for his pioneering contributions to the mechanisms involved in the processes of gene replication, transcription, control, and translation, that are fundamental to all life.”

In addition to its role as a worldwide fellowship of top scientists, the Royal Society provides independent scientific advice to government agencies in the U.K., publishes eight scientific journals, and provides funding for scientific research, all, according to the Society’s website, “for the benefit of humanity and the good of the planet.”