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Two Members of Department are Elected to the National Academy of Sciences

May 03, 2018

To the Yale School of Medicine Community,

It gives me great pleasure to announce that Akiko Iwasaki, PhD; Haifan Lin, PhD; and David G. Schatz, PhD, have been elected to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), for their outstanding research achievements.

Dr. Iwasaki is Waldemar Von Zedwitz Professor of Immunobiology and Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology; and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. Her research focuses on the mechanisms of immune defense against viruses at mucosal surfaces. Her laboratory has made seminal contributions to the understanding of how innate recognition of viral infections leads to the adaptive immune response, and how adaptive immunity mediates protection against subsequent viral challenges. Her work spans diseases caused by such viruses as herpes, influenza, rhinovirus, human papillomavirus, and Zika. Dr. Iwasaki joined Yale in 2000, after postdoctoral training at the National Institutes of Health.

Dr. Lin is Eugene Higgins Professor of Cell Biology and professor of genetics and of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive sciences. He joined Yale in 2006 as the founding director of the Yale Stem Cell Center. He has made key contributions to the demonstration of stem cell asymmetric division and the proof of the stem cell niche theory. He discovered the Argonuate/Piwi gene family and its essential function in stem cell self-renewal and germline development. He is also a discoverer of a novel class of non-coding small RNAs known as piRNAs, which was hailed by Science as one of the top breakthroughs in 2006. More recently, he demonstrated the crucial roles of the Piwi-piRNA pathway in epigenetic programming and in post-transcriptional regulation of mRNA and long non-coding RNAs.

Dr. Schatz is Waldemar Von Zedtwitz Professor of Immunobiology, professor of molecular biophysics and biochemistry, and chair of the Department of Immunobiology. He has made fundamental contributions to our understanding of the mechanisms that assemble and diversify antigen receptor genes that encode antibodies and T cell receptors. He is best known for the discovery of the recombination activating genes RAG1 and RAG2, subsequent biochemical insights into RAG function and evolutionary origins, and the discovery of two distinct levels of regulation of somatic hypermutation. Dr. Schatz, who is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator alumnus, joined Yale in 1991.

These three distinguished faculty members, along with David Bercovici, PhD; Igor B. Frenkel, PhD; and Gunter Paul Wagner, PhD, from Yale University, are among 84 new members and 21 foreign associates who were selected for one of the world’s highest honors that can be bestowed on a scientist. They join 29 other faculty members from YSM who have been elected to the NAS.

Please join me in the historical library today at 5 p.m. to congratulate them on this extraordinary achievement.


Robert J. Alpern, MD Dean and Ensign Professor of Medicine

Submitted by Lauren Perley on May 03, 2018