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08 FN: Joan Steitz

Yale Medicine Magazine, 2014 - Spring

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Joan Steitz, Ph.D., Sterling Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry and investigator for Howard Hughes Medical Institute, was one of 60 scientists elected in May to the Royal Society, the United Kingdom’s national academy of science. Steitz was recognized for her pioneering studies of how messenger RNAs are fashioned in order to make proteins from the instructions contained in DNA, a process crucial to all life. With her graduate student, Michael Lerner, she discovered the building blocks of spliceosomes, which assemble the messenger RNAs that deliver instructions for production of proteins. She has also illustrated key roles played by small RNAs in modifying the activities of other cellular RNAs. Her insights have been applied to numerous research areas, including cancer and autoimmune and infectious diseases. Steitz was one of 10 foreign members elected to the society’s 2014 class.