Whitehead Members Hidde Ploegh and David Sabatini Elected to National Academy of Sciences

Whitehead Institute Members Hidde Ploegh and David Sabatini

Whitehead Institute Members Hidde Ploegh and David Sabatini

Image: Christopher Churchill/Whitehead Institute

May 3, 2016

Tags: Ploegh LabSabatini LabAwards + Announcements

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The National Academy of Sciences announced today that Whitehead Institute’s Hidde Ploegh and David Sabatini are among 84 new Academy members elected in recognition of distinguished and continuing achievements in original research.

Ploegh’s and Sabatini’s elections occurred during the 153rd annual meeting of the Academy. Election to membership in the Academy is considered among the highest honors that can be accorded a U.S. scientist or engineer. Those elected today bring the total number of active members to nearly 2,300.

Ploegh’s Whitehead Institute lab, which he established in 2005, has focused on developing innovative tools and techniques with which to explore the complexities of the immune system and its response to antigens, including those from invading pathogens and cancer cells. Prior to joining Whitehead, Ploegh taught at Harvard Medical School, where he led the immunology program. Before moving to Harvard, Ploegh was a Professor of Biology at MIT’s Center for Cancer Research (now the David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research). Ploegh’s honors include a Meritorious Career Award, from the American Association of Immunologists and a special National Institutes of Health Director's Pioneer Award in support of “high-risk, high-reward” research.   

A pioneer in the study of the key cellular regulatory metabolic pathway known as mTOR (for mechanistic target of rapamycin), Sabatini’s lab has been discerning the individual roles mTOR’s protein components play in diseases such as cancer and diabetes as well as in the aging process. Sabatini was appointed a Whitehead Fellow in 1997 after completing the MD/PhD program at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. In 2008, he became a Professor of Biology at MIT and an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Among Sabatini’s many honors are the Paul Marks Prize for Cancer Research and the National Academy of Sciences Award in Molecular Biology.

With their elections, Ploegh and Sabatini become the tenth and eleventh Whitehead Members to hold membership in the National Academy of Sciences. The others are David BartelGerald FinkRudolf JaenischSusan LindquistHarvey LodishTerry Orr-WeaverDavid Page, Robert Weinberg, and Richard Young.

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.

Whitehead Institute is a world-renowned non-profit research institution dedicated to improving human health through basic biomedical research.
Wholly independent in its governance, finances, and research programs, Whitehead shares a close affiliation with Massachusetts Institute of Technology
through its faculty, who hold joint MIT appointments.

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