Martine Roussel, Ph.D., a member of the Department of Tumor Cell Biology and co-leader of the Cancer Biology Program at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, was elected to the National Academy of Sciences. Roussel is one of 100 new members and 25 foreign associates recognized this year by the renowned society of scholars for their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research.
Roussel’s appointment marks a historic moment in National Academy of Sciences history with a record number of women elected to the academy.
“This is a richly deserved honor for Dr. Roussel,” said James R. Downing, M.D., St. Jude president and CEO. “She has made lasting contributions to our understanding of the molecular underpinnings of pediatric brain tumors. With that information, doctors are uncovering new avenues of treatments, and importantly, developing therapies that maximize cures and minimize long-term side effects.”
Established in 1863, the NAS is charged with providing independent, objective advice to the nation on matters related to science and technology. Scientists are elected by their peers to membership in the NAS for outstanding contributions to research. The organization is committed to furthering science in the United States, and its members are active contributors to the international scientific community, nearly 500 of whom have won Nobel Prizes.
Roussel has made landmark discoveries in molecular oncology, cell cycle control, and translational development of treatment strategies for pediatric medulloblastoma, the most common malignant pediatric brain tumor. She has played a pioneering role in the identification of several important oncogenes such as the avian retroviral Myc, Myb, and ErbB oncogenes.
Together with her long-standing collaborator Charles Sherr, M.D., Ph.D., she has made key contributions to the understanding of receptor signal transduction, cell cycle control, and tumor development. Her research implicated Myc genes as key regulators for biological processes, essential for understanding the origins of medulloblastoma and novel therapeutic strategies for the tumor.
"It’s an honor to be recognized by the National Academy of Sciences,” Roussel said. “This election speaks to the collective success that we’ve achieved in fundamental science, which has translated to novel therapeutic strategies for pediatric brain tumors. I attribute much of my success to the support of St. Jude and my colleagues, those who worked in my lab and many others who have worked so diligently to accelerate progress for children with cancer.”
She joined St. Jude in 1983 as a research associate in the Department of Tumor Cell Biology. She is a full member and holds the Endowed Chair in Molecular Oncogenesis.
Along with being a mentor and supervisor for dozens of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, Roussel holds two patents; has organized scientific meetings around the globe; and serves on several editorial and scientific advisory boards. In 2017, she was named the St. Jude Mentor of the Year, and in 2011, she was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She earned a Ph.D. in molecular biology at the University of Lille in France.
Roussel joins Nobel Laureate Peter Doherty, Ph.D.; Robert Webster, Ph.D.; Charles Sherr, M.D., Ph.D.; and Brenda Schulman, Ph.D., as St. Jude faculty who are members of the National Academy of Sciences. In addition, this marks the eleventh appointment of a St. Jude faculty member to the collective National Academies. Doherty; Sherr; William E. Evans, Pharm.D.; James Downing, M.D.; Mary Relling, Pharm.D.; and Arthur Nienhuis, M.D., have previously been elected to the National Academy of Medicine.