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May 17, 2011

Lynne Maquat elected to National Academy of Sciences

Lynne Maquat

Lynne Maquat, the J. Lowell Orbison Chair and Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics and director of the Center for RNA Biology, has been elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences—one of the highest honors possible for a scientist—for her work in the field of RNA biology. Maquat will be inducted next April with 71 other newly elected members during the academy’s 149th annual meeting in Washington, D.C.

Maquat is internationally recognized for her research on nonsense-mediated mRNA decay, a cellular mechanism that derails the production of unwanted proteins in the body that can disrupt normal processes and initiate disease. The mechanism removes flawed RNA molecules that, if left intact, would lead to the creation of such proteins.

Maquat has made many major discoveries in the field and is considered a pioneer on the subject. Her work has been widely published in journals such as Cell and Nature.

“Dr. Maquat is an outstanding researcher who sets very high standards for her science, regularly publishing in the most prestigious journals, training highly successful research fellows, and speaking across the country and around the world about her work,” says Bradford Berk, CEO of the Medical Center. “She is one of the premier RNA scientists in the world, and we’re extremely proud that she is a part of our institution and has been recognized with this tremendous honor.”

Upon her induction in April 2012, Maquat joins more than a dozen University faculty members elected to the National Academy of Sciences. Other academy members from the University include Fred Sherman, also a faculty member in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Richard Eisenberg, Elissa Newport, Esther Conwell, John Huizenga, Richard Fenno Jr., Ronald Jones, Rene Millon, the late Leonard Mandel, the late Lionel McKenzie, the late Marshall Gates, and the late Wallace Fenn.

“Election to the National Academy of Sciences is something every scientist aspires to, but few achieve,” says Mark Taubman, dean of the School of Medicine and Dentistry. “Dr. Maquat is very well deserving of this outstanding achievement and joins an elite group of individuals from Rochester who have also accomplished great things in their respective areas of science.”

Maquat says “research science is a very exciting and, at the same time, very humbling undertaking. Discovering new cellular pathways and clues to the molecular basis of human disease is absolutely wonderful, but there is so much to know and to learn along the way, and the process is very labor intensive. Over the course of my career I’ve worked hard, read widely, and followed my instincts. I asked questions I thought were important, obtained data using more than one experimental approach, and probed a few questions deeply rather than many questions superficially in any one project.”

According to Maquat, “My accomplishments would not have been possible without years and years of wonderfully committed and talented graduate students and postdocs in my laboratory.”

Maquat joined the Medical Center in 2000, after spending 18 years at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute. In addition to serving as director of the Center for RNA Biology, Maquat also created and leads the University’s Graduate Women in Science program, one of several programs she initiated as principal investigator of a National Institutes of Health graduate student training grant in cellular, biochemical, and molecular sciences.

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