COLUMBIA, Mo. The National Academy of Sciences has elected James Birchler, Curators' Professor of Biological Sciences in the MU College of Arts & Science, as a member. Birchler will be inducted into the organization next April during its annual meeting in Washington, D.C.
The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit honor society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to furthering science and technology for the general welfare. Established in 1863, NAS members are elected on the basis of their original scientific research. Past members include Albert Einstein, Orville Wright and Thomas Edison.
"I feel honored and humbled," Birchler said. "I owe so much to my colleagues and those with whom I have worked over the years. My research would not have been possible without their help."
Birchler is among the world's most highly regarded cytogeneticists scientists that study the structure and function of cells, especially the chromosomes. Birchler created a technique that allows scientists to break down and engineer small parts of a chromosome. In the future, this technique could allow scientists to introduce multiple disease -resistant and agronomic traits to plants.
Birchler also developed a widely used technology to accurately visualize genes and chromosome features. He made major contributions toward understanding how plant and animal gene expression changes in response to the number of genes present. He was first to recognize that the dosage interaction of "gene regulators" which control the expression of genes is far more important than "structural genes"the genes that make up a protein for the eventual expression pattern. Birchler co-founded the "gene balance hypothesis," which predicts how genes behave during evolution. The hypothesis has the potential to impact future research in medicine, agriculture and biology.
"Birchler's science is extraordinary," said J
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University of Missouri-Columbia