The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) today, May 1, announced the election of its new members. Among those newly elected to NAS are Dr. Mark T. Groudine, director of the Basic Science Division of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and University of Washington (UW) professor of radiation oncology, and Dr. Philip P. Green, professor of molecular biotechnology and adjunct professor of computer sciences. The election was held during the 138th annual meeting of the NAS. Membership in the NAS is considered to be among the highest honors accorded to an American scientist or engineer.
The NAS is a private organization established in 1863 by a Congressional act of incorporation, signed by Abraham Lincoln. The act calls on the NAS to serve as an official advisor to the federal government, upon request, in any matter of science or technology. The NAS is also dedicated to furtherance of science and its use for the general welfare.
Groudine, who holds an M.D. and a Ph.D. degree from the University of Pennsylvania, began conducting research at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center more than 25 years ago, while he was completing his clinical training at the UW. Now, as director of the Center’s Basic Science Division, he heads extensive, diverse programs of research in cellular and molecular biology. Studies in the Division have been recognized for furthering knowledge about cell cycle regulation, cell differentiation and development. Scientific advances in these areas are essential for understanding cancer formation and growth.
In addition to his leadership talents in creating an atmosphere where other scientists can flourish, Groudine is also internationally noted for his own research contributions on the control of gene expression and the structure of chromatin, which is the substance in the nucleus of living cells that forms chromosomes and contains genes.
His research team discovered mechanisms that orchestrate the structure of certain chromosomal regions and thereby either silence or prevent the silencing of large sets of genes. Groudine’s more recent studies look at the role of locus control regions and enhancers, both of which may possibly establish or maintain an environment that permits genetic transcription. Enhancers may prevent gene silencing by keeping genes away from locations that prevent gene activation in the nucleus.
Green works on developing mathematical, statistical and computer methods for analyzing the genomes — the genetic code — of humans and other organisms. One of his specific areas of interest is the interpretation of genomic sequences, particularly the identification of genes and the elucidation of the evolutionary relationships. He is improving mathematical techniques and statistical methods for detecting subtle sequence similarities.
Green’s work includes designing software packages for making genetic maps used to localize the genes implicated in genetic diseases and for identifying biological features within the genome.
Among the programs Green has created is Phred, which is used worldwide to handle the data generated by the Human Genome Project and similar investigations. For example, Phred is being used in conjunction with two programs created by other scientists, PolyPhred and Phylip, in a UW-FHCRC research effort to determine the most common variations in human DNA.
Green is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. He joined the UW faculty in 1994.
Today’s election of Groudine and Green to the National Academy of Sciences brings the number of UW medical school faculty in the NAS to 21 and the total at the UW as a whole to 30. There are four NAS members at FHCRC.
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