May 4, 2011

Two from UW elected to National Academy of Sciences

Donald K. Grayson, a UW anthropology faculty member since 1975, and Daniel Gottschling, a member of the Basic Science Division at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, have been elected members of the prestigious National Academy of Sciences.

They are among 72 new members and 18 foreign associates from 15 countries recognized May 3 by the Academy for distinguished and continuing achievements in original research.

Grayson joined the UW department of anthropology in 1975 as an assistant professor and became a full professor in 1983. He received his doctorate in anthropology from the University of Oregon in 1973.

In central Utah, Donald Grayson kneels next to a woven model of the western North American diminutive pronghorn, which became extinct about 11,000 years ago.

D.B. Madsen

In central Utah, Donald Grayson kneels next to a woven model of the western North American diminutive pronghorn, which became extinct about 11,000 years ago.

In addition to many scientific papers, Grayson has authored four books. The most recent of these is The Great Basin, which describes the environmental and human history of the American West region centering on Nevada and including Death Valley and the Great Salt Lake.

Gottschlings lab at the Hutchison Center studies  the link between increasing age and the incidence of cancer.  Instability of genes, leading to abnormal growth and proliferation of cells, is characteristic of cancer.  This instability occurs in all types of organisms as they age, including yeast.  Gottschlings lab, according to its website, discovered that as cells from the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae reach the mid- to late stages of their replicative lifespan, they enter a state of genome instability that persists until death.

Gottschling believes that this change represents a fundamental transition in many aging cells. His lab is trying to determine the mechanism underlying this phenomenon.

Daniel Gottschling in his lab, where he investigates the connection between aging and cancer.

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

Daniel Gottschling in his lab, where he investigates the connection between aging and cancer.

His research on how a cell makes copies of its genetic material before it divides that has led to new understanding of telomerase.  Activating this enzyme results in an immortal cell line, that, like some forms of cancer, grows unchecked.

Gottschling earned a Ph.D. in 1984 from the University of Colorado. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the Hutchinson Center for five years before joining the faculty at the University of Chicago. He returned to the Hutchinson Center in 1996.  He is a member of the National Academy of Arts & Sciences, and is a former Pew Scholar, Fletcher Scholar of the Cancer Research Foundation, and Ellison Medical Foundation Senior Scholar. He also has received the Glenn Award for Research on the Biological Mechanisms of Aging.

The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit honorific society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to furthering science and technology and to their use for the general welfare.  Established in 1863, the National Academy of Sciences has served to “investigate, examine, experiment, and report upon any subject of science or art” whenever called upon to do so by any department of the government.  The full list of newly elected members is available online.