TSRI Scientists Named AAAS Fellows for Innovative Research in Biology and Neuroscience

LA JOLLA, CA – November 21, 2016 – Two scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have been elected fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). They are James Paulson, the Cecil H. and Ida M. Green Chair of Chemistry at TSRI and chair of the Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, and TSRI Professor Ardem Patapoutian, who is also a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Investigator.

“James and Ardem have made extraordinary contributions to our understanding of glycobiology and sensory perception, respectively, and it is terrific to see them recognized by their peers in this manner,” said TSRI President Peter Schultz. “We all congratulate them on this well-deserved recognition.”

Paulson was honored for his work in the biological sciences, specifically glycobiology—the study of the biology of saccharides (sugar chains or glycans). His lab’s research focuses on carbohydrate recognition and carbohydrate-binding proteins that mediate cellular communication in the immune system and the emergence of new pandemic influenza viruses in humans. His work has implications for the treatment of various conditions, including autoimmune disease, allergies, asthma and influenza.

In a statement, AAAS noted that Paulson’s work has “shaped modern glycobiology through chemo-enzymatic synthesis of glycans, tool development, and discoveries on the role of glycans in viral infection and human immune response.”

Patapoutian was recognized for his research in neuroscience. In 2010, Patapoutian and his lab colleagues discovered the Piezo proteins, which are ion channels in the cell membrane that regulate how cells sense mechanical force, thus contributing to our sense of touch. Further research in his lab has explored the workings of these channels and their relevance as targets for treating pain, hypertension and other conditions.

AAAS cited Patapoutian’s “distinction to the field of sensory transduction, particularly identifying and characterizing the molecules that detect and distinguish stimuli including touch, heat and chemicals.”

Fellows of AAAS, founded in 1848, are elected based on their efforts to advance scientific applications deemed scientifically or socially distinguished. AAAS has awarded the distinction of Fellow to 391 of its members this year.

Fellows will be presented with an official certificate and a gold and blue rosette pin on February 18 at the AAAS Fellows Forum during the 2017 AAAS Annual Meeting in Boston.

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