SEATTLE Cell biologist Daniel Gottschling, Ph.D., a member of the Basic Sciences Division at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, has been elected to membership in the National Academy of Sciences. Election to NAS is considered one of the highest honors that can be accorded a U.S. scientist or engineer.
"I am flattered and honored to be recognized by my scientific peers," said Gottschling, who will be inducted into the Academy next April during its 149th annual meeting in Washington, D.C. "I have been fortunate to have spent most of my life among family and friends who have supported my scientific curiosity and colleagues who have shared my passion to pursue it."
Gottschling, the eighth Hutchinson Center researcher to be elected to NAS, was among 72 new members elected today, bringing the total number of current active members to 2,113. The Academy's renowned members have included Albert Einstein, Robert Oppenheimer, Thomas Edison, Orville Wright and Alexander Graham Bell. More than 180 NAS members have won Nobel Prizes.
Gottschling has discovered genes that are critically important in different facets of chromosome biology, including a landmark finding that initiated the genetic analysis of telomerase. Telomerase is an enzyme that, if activated in a cell, will cause the cell to become immortal and continue to grow and divide. This "immortal cell" theory is important in two areas of research: aging and cancer.
He has studied yeast cells for clues to the molecular underpinnings of life clues that he hopes will have parallels in humans. Recently, he has been using this model organism to understand the relationship between cancer and aging a problem that has long vexed biologists.
Gottschling was inspired to study the connection between aging and cancer after learning some startling statistics: A person's risk of developing cancer starts to increase exponentially around age 40. By age 55, men have a 50 percent chance and women have
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Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center