Skip to Main Content

YSM faculty elected to National Academy of Medicine and AAAS

Medicine@Yale, 2021 - January February


Experts in psychiatry, cell biology, environmental health, and dyslexia

Daniel A. Colón-Ramos, PhD, and Michelle L. Bell, PhD, have been elected to the National Academy of Medicine (NAM), the academy announced in October.

Colón-Ramos is Dorys McConnell Duberg Professor of Neuroscience and Cell Biology at Yale School of Medicine. He joined the Yale faculty in 2008, and has worked with the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans to uncover fundamental principles of the cell biology of the synapse and how it underpins animal behaviors. A particular interest has been how neurons self-organize to form brains, and how they convert sensory information into behavioral responses. His discoveries have informed fundamental and conserved principles of neuropil formation, synaptic cell biology, and circuit function that underpin behaviors.

Colón-Ramos also has been very active in helping his native Puerto Rico obtain both scientific and material support, particularly after Hurricane Maria in 2017 and during the current COVID-19 pandemic. A nonprofit he co-founded in 2006, Ciencia Puerto Rico, and its affiliated Yale Ciencia Academy, also provide professional development and leadership training to PhD candidates from minoritized backgrounds, particularly from Puerto Rico.

Bell is the Mary E. Pinchot Professor of Environmental Health at Yale School of the Environment with a secondary appointment as professor of environmental health at Yale School of Public Health. She joined the Yale faculty in 2004. Her research investigates how human health is affected by atmospheric systems, including air pollution and weather. Other research interests include the health impacts of climate change and environmental justice. The research is designed to be policy-relevant and contribute to well-informed decision making to better protect human health and benefit society.

These distinguished faculty members are among 100 new members who were selected for their outstanding contributions to the field of medicine. They join 52 other faculty members from Yale who have been elected to the NAM, one of the highest honors in medicine.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has named two Yale School of Medicine researchers as AAAS Fellows for their distinguished efforts to advance science. John H. Krystal, MD, Robert L. McNeil, Jr. Professor of Translational Research, chair and professor of psychiatry, professor of neuroscience and of psychology, and co-director of the Yale Center for Clinical Investigation; and Sally Shaywitz, MD, Audrey G. Ratner Professor of Pediatrics (Neurology), are among 489 association members awarded the honor in 2020 by AAAS.

Krystal is being honored for his transformative contributions to human neuroscience, particularly research on glutamate signaling and the resultant development of ketamine as a novel rapid antidepressant. In the early 1990s, Krystal and fellow psychiatrists at Yale discovered that chronically depressed patients experienced almost immediate relief from symptoms after taking the anesthetic ketamine. In 2019, the Food and Drug Administration approved a new antidepressant, esketamine, that is now available by prescription. Esketamine is a nasal spray derived from ketamine. “Yale has been and continues to be an incredible home for translational neuroscience,” Krystal said. “There were very few other places in the world where we could have conducted our research.”

Shaywitz, codirector of the Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity, is being honored for distinguished contributions to the public’s understanding of the biological basis and natural history of dyslexia and communicating these discoveries to the public. In addition to her more than 350 scientific publications with Bennett Shaywitz, MD, Charles and Helen Schwab Professor of Pediatrics (Neurology), she is author of the best-selling book, Overcoming Dyslexia, which has transformed people’s understanding of dyslexia and provided practical approaches and specific interventions for parents and educators.