Penn faculty members tackle crippling disease, join National Academy of Sciences

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Three Penn faculty members—Nancy Bonini, Gideon Dreyfuss, and Beatrice H. Hahn— were elected to the National Academy of Sciences this month.

These Penn profs have made it their mission to solve all sorts of crippling diseases. Bononi, a professor of biology and an investigator for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, works with fruit flies to identify genes related to human brain diseases such as Huntington’s. Dreyfuss, the Isaac Norris Professor of biochemistry and biophysics at the Perelman School of Medicine, is also an investigator for the Howard Hughes institute. His laboratory is investigating the role of RNA-binding proteins in degenerative diseases such as spinal muscular atrophy. And Hahn, who teaches medicine and microbiology at the Perelman School, studies the origins and the evolution of human and simian immunodeficiency viruses, focusing on HIV and malaria.

Eighty-four new members were inducted this year.  Induction into the academy is considered one of the highest honors possible for an American scientist or engineer. The NAS was established by Congress 1863.  Its 2,152 members’ overarching goal is to “investigate, examine, experiment, and report upon any subject of science” and, when they’re asked to, advise the government on all such matters.

- M.S.

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