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​Three University of Pittsburgh Faculty Elected to National Academy of Sciences

PITTSBURGH, May 2, 2012 – In recognition of their scientific contributions and accomplishments, three University of Pittsburgh faculty members have been elected to membership in the prestigious U.S. National Academy of Sciences (NAS), which was established by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863 to provide independent advice to the government on matters related to science and technology.
 
The School of Medicine’s Yuan Chang, M.D., Distinguished Professor and American Cancer Society Professor, Department of Pathology, and Patrick S. Moore, M.D., M.P.H., Distinguished Professor and American Cancer Society Professor, Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, who together identified two of the seven known human cancer-causing viruses; and Peter Strick, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor, Department of Neurobiology, whose focus is on understanding the neural circuitry that controls voluntary movement, are among the 84 new members and 21 foreign associates from 15 countries who were recognized this year for “their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research,” according to NAS. “Election to the Academy is considered one of the highest honors that can be accorded a U.S. scientist or engineer.”
 
“To have a single faculty member elected to the National Academy of Sciences would be a cause for celebration, but to have three colleagues elected in a single year is a remarkable achievement,” said University Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg. “More than anything, this is a well-deserved tribute to the pioneering work being done by Professors Chang, Moore and Strick. It also is reflective of a culture that supports research of impact at Pitt and is a credit to the recruiting skills of Senior Vice Chancellor Dr. Arthur S. Levine, who has brought all five of the National Academy members in our School of Medicine to Pittsburgh.”
 
“Drs. Chang, Moore and Strick are outstanding researchers who have greatly added to our understanding of challenging biological questions,” said Dr. Levine, who also is the dean of the School of Medicine. “Their election to the Academy is indicative of the quality of their research and the importance of their findings.”
 
Drs. Chang and Moore are co-leaders of the Cancer Virology Program at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute. In 1994, they discovered the virus known as Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpes virus, or herpesvirus 8, that causes Kaposi’s sarcoma, the most common AIDS-related malignancy. In 2008, they identified Merkel cell polyomavirus, which causes a rare and deadly skin cancer called Merkel cell carcinoma. Both received their medical degrees from the University of Utah College of Medicine.
 
Dr. Strick is director of the Systems Neuroscience Institute, co-director of the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition, a joint program between PITT and Carnegie Mellon University, and a senior VA research career scientist at the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System. Dr. Strick’s research investigates the neural circuits that are responsible for the control of voluntary movement, cognition and affect. He developed the use of viruses with an affinity for neurons as a new technique for unraveling connections in the central nervous system. He received his doctorate in anatomy from the University of Pennsylvania.
 
The School of Medicine now is the professional home to five active NAS members, the largest number in its history. Susan G. Amara, Ph.D., Detre Professor and chair, Department of Neurobiology, was elected in 2004, and Angela M. Gronenborn, Ph.D., UPMC Rosalind Franklin Professor and chair, Department of Structural Biology, was elected in 2007.

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