Whitehead Director, Former Director Elected to American Philosophical Society

May 8, 2003

Tags: Fink LabLindquist LabAwards + Announcements

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research Director Susan Lindquist and Whitehead Founding Member and former director Gerald Fink have been elected to the American Philosophical Society, the oldest learned society in the United States devoted to the advancement of scientific and scholarly inquiry.

Lindquist, also a professor of biology at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, received a doctoral degree in biology in 1976 from Harvard University. She was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Chicago, before joining that university’s faculty in 1977. She was named a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator while at Chicago. She became Whitehead director in 2001.

Widely known for her groundbreaking work in the study of protein folding, Lindquist’s research on how changes in protein shape affect cell activity is helping to provide a new biochemical framework for understanding disease and heredity. Work in her lab in the area of protein conformational change includes its possible influence on evolutionary processes, stress responses and the biology, function and utility of prion protein propagation.

She was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1996 and the National Academy of Sciences in 1997, the same year she became a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology.

Fink, the American Cancer Society Professor of Genetics at MIT, received his doctoral degree in genetics from Yale University and served for 15 years on the faculty of Cornell University. A past president of the Genetics Society of America, he is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the Institute of Medicine.

Through analysis of common baker’s yeast, Fink explores critical pathways in cell growth and metabolism. Applications of his research include cancer research and the development of new anti-fungal drugs. He also directs a plant research group heralded for new insights into root growth and salt metabolism.

Among his many honors and awards are the National Academy of Sciences/U.S. Steel Foundation Award in Molecular Biology, the Medal of the Genetics Society of America and its 2002 George Beadle Award, and Denmark’s Emil Christian Hansen Award. He received the first honorary doctorate awarded by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in 1999.

Fink and Lindquist are among 43 Americans and eight international scholars to be elected as members of the society during its recent annual meeting. Members in the society, which was founded in 1743 by Benjamin Franklin, are organized into five classes: Mathematical and Physical Sciences; Biological Sciences; Social Sciences; Humanities; and the Arts, Learned Professions, and Public & Private Affairs. Fink and Lindquist were elected to the Biological Sciences class.

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