MCB Professors Andrew Murray and Jeff Lichtman have been elected to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). The two are among 84 new members and 21 foreign associates from 15 countries recognized by the NAS for their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research. Eleven of the new members are from Harvard’s faculties of arts and sciences and of medicine.
The two MCB professors have very different research interests, but they now share membership in this prestigious society that was established under a congressional charter signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863.
Jeff Lichtman is a member of the Center for Brain Science, where he studies how experience alters the wiring of brain circuits. He has worked many years on the changes in neural connections in the peripheral nervous system that occur as young animals grow up. With fellow MCB Professor Joshua Sanes, he developed “Brainbow,” a fluorescence microscopy method to visualize individual brain cells each as a different colors. More recently he and his lab colleagues have worked on developing methods to trace neural connections at finer resolutions using automated electron microscopy methods. His goal is to use such techniques to map all the connections in volumes in the central nervous system, a field called “connectomics” with the ultimate goal of getting writing diagrams of adult and developing brains.
Andrew Murray is the Herschel Smith Professor of Molecular Genetics and the Director of FAS Center for Systems Biology. He uses brewer’s yeast to ask fundamental questions about how cells pass on their genetic information and how this information and cellular behavior evolves under selective pressure. For example, how do cells keep track of their chromosomes; does the need to exploit common resources lead to the evolution of multicellular organisms; and can you evolve a circadian clock in the laboratory.
“I am delighted and humbled to be elected to the National Academy of Sciences,” Murray said. “Joining a group that includes so many of my mentors, friends, and heroes is a great honor and an incentive to do as much as they have to promote the advance and public understanding of science.The National Academy of Sciences
The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit institution that recognizes achievement in science by election to membership, and — with the National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, and National Research Council — provides science, technology, and health policy advice to the federal government and other organizations.