Terry Orr-Weaver named to National Academy of Sciences

April 26, 2006

Tags: Orr-Weaver LabAwards + Announcements

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (April 26, 2006) Whitehead Member Terry Orr-Weaver is one of 72 new members of the National Academy of Sciences elected in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research. The Academy also elected 18 foreign associates from 16 countries.

The election was held during the business session of the 143rd annual meeting of the Academy. Election to membership in the Academy is considered one of the highest honors that can be accorded a U.S. scientist or engineer. Those elected bring the total number of active members to 2,013.

The National Academy of Sciences is a private organization of scientists and engineers dedicated to the furtherance of science and its use for the general welfare. It was established in 1863 by a congressional act of incorporation, signed by Abraham Lincoln, which calls on the Academy to act as an official adviser to the federal government, upon request, in any matter of science or technology.

Orr-Weaver investigates the mechanisms that control the sequence of events during which a cell duplicates its DNA and divides in two. Studies in her lab have illuminated fundamental aspects of this process, the cell cycle, and shed new light on a broad range of diseases caused by breakdowns in cell division, including cancer and some birth defects.

Because fruit flies share many genetic similarities with humans, Orr-Weaver uses them as a model organism to identify proteins critical for accurate DNA replication and partitioning of chromosomes to produce two identical daughter cells. She and her colleagues have developed systems for identifying control proteins and determining their specific roles within the cell.

In addition to being a Member of Whitehead Institute, Orr-Weaver is also a professor of biology at MIT. She came to Whitehead Institute and MIT in 1987, and held the Latham Family Career Development Chair from 1991 to 1994. Orr-Weaver received her PhD in biological chemistry from Harvard University in 1984, was named a Jane Coffin Child Memorial Fund Fellow in 1984 and a Searle Scholar in 1988. She served as a co-graduate officer for the MIT department of biology from 1998-2004. She currently is the chair of the Scientific Advisory Committee of the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation and is past-president of the Genetics Society of America.

Orr-Weaver joins Whitehead Members Gerald Fink, Rudolf Jaenisch, Eric Lander, Susan Lindquist, Harvey Lodish, David Page and Robert Weinberg as members of the Academy.

Written by David Cameron.

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