UW News

May 5, 2023

UW immunologist, mathematician among newly elected National Academy of Sciences members


UW News | UW Medicine Newsroom

Two University of Washington faculty members have been elected to the National Academy of Sciences:

  • Dr. Philip Greenberg, professor of medicine and of immunology at the UW, as well as the Rona Jaffe Foundation Endowed Chair at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center and head of the Program in Immunology in its Clinical Research Division
  • Gunther Uhlmann, the Robert R. and Elaine F. Phelps Endowed Professor in Mathematics at the UW

Greenberg and Uhlmann are among 120 new members and 23 international members elected “in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research,” announced May 2 by the academy. Chartered in 1863, the National Academy of Sciences provides policy advice and input to governmental, nonprofit and private organizations.

Philip Greenberg

Greenberg’s laboratory is internationally respected for its work on T-cell therapies for cancer and chronic infections. A type of white blood cell, T cells are part of the body’s defenses. His team is identifying tumor antigens — or substances that provoke immune responses — that could be targets for T cells and the basis of anti-cancer therapies. Clinical trials of T-cell therapies are currently underway for patients with small cell lung cancer, malignant melanoma and acute leukemia — along with preclinical research for ovarian and pancreatic cancers. Greenberg’s research also focuses on developing techniques to monitor T-cell infusions for potential obstacles to immune therapy. Other work includes seeking ways to erase immune “memory” in T cells and reprogram them with another immune response. He is also testing strategies to activate natural killer cells — another immune system component — against cancer.

Greenberg earned a bachelor’s degree from Washington University in St. Louis and an M.D. from SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University. He was a medical resident, and later a postdoctoral researcher, at the University of California, San Diego, before joining Fred Hutch as a clinical and research fellow in oncology. Greenberg was recently named president of the American Association for Cancer Research.

Gunther Uhlmann

Uhlmann is a world-renowned expert in inverse problems, which involves calculating the causal factors behind a set of observations. Among other applications, Uhlmann has explored identifying an object by how it scatters light and other electromagnetic waves. As part of these efforts, he has formulated theories for certain types of cloaking technologies, some of which have been realized. He has also worked on partial differential equations, imaging and microlocal analysis.

Uhlmann earned a degree in mathematics from the University of Chile in 1973 and a doctoral degree in mathematics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1976. Beginning his academic career at MIT, he joined the UW faculty in 1984, and held the Walker Family Endowed Professorship in Mathematics from 2006 to 2022. Since 2014, Uhlmann has been the Si Yuan Professor at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. He has also held chairs and professorships at Cambridge University, the University of Helsinki, the Paris Mathematical Science Foundation and the University of California, Berkeley. Among other honors, elected fellow of the American Mathematical Society in 2012 and fellow of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics in 2010.

With this year’s additions, the National Academy of Sciences now has 2,565 active members and 526 international members.