Newswise — DALLAS – May 3, 2011 – The National Academy of Sciences today elected Luis F. Parada, Ph.D., chairman of developmental biology at UT Southwestern Medical Center, to membership, representing one of the highest honors attainable by an American scientist.
With Dr. Parada’s election, UT Southwestern now has 19 members of this prestigious society among its faculty, more than all other academic medical centers in Texas combined.
“Needless to say, I am thrilled. Aside from actual participation in scientific discovery itself, this is probably the most satisfying professional milestone I can think of, which is to be acknowledged by your peers. I appreciate all the support I have from my colleagues at UT Southwestern, with whom I share this honor,” said Dr. Parada. He directs the Kent Waldrep Center for Basic Research on Nerve Growth and Regeneration and holds the Southwestern Ball Distinguished Chair in Nerve Regeneration Research and the Diana K. And Richard C. Strauss Distinguished Chair in Developmental Biology.
“I also want to acknowledge all the philanthropic support I have received from the Dallas community, which has been so essential for our research,” Dr. Parada said.
Dr. Parada’s research integrates the fields of molecular genetics, embryonic development and signal transduction. His studies have provided critical insights into brain development, associated disorders and cancer biology, and have led to the identification of molecules that inhibit nerve regeneration after injury.
“Our approach has always been to relate cancer and other diseases to problems associated with development and to thereby gain a unique insight into human disease,” Dr. Parada said.
His laboratory focuses on the regulatory pathways that control the complex process of nervous system development and the consequences of inappropriate development, which can include behavioral and mood disorders, as well as cancer.
Dr. Daniel K. Podolsky, president of UT Southwestern, said, “Dr. Parada’s work has been distinguished by both creativity and rigor. His discoveries into the most basic mechanisms of development have already led to novel paradigms for the treatment of tumors of the nervous system. His election to the National Academy of Sciences is much deserved and a point of great pride for all of us at UT Southwestern.”
Dr. Parada graduated with honors from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, with a bachelor’s degree in molecular biology. He completed his doctorate in biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1985 and served postdoctoral fellowships at the Whitehead Institute in Cambridge, Mass., and at the Pasteur Institute in Paris.
He was head of the Molecular Embryology Section in the Mammalian Genetics Laboratory of the National Cancer Institute before joining UT Southwestern in 1994. He has received numerous honors, including election to the NAS’ Institute of Medicine and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2007 and as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2008. He was named an American Cancer Society Basic Research Professor in 2003.
“Luis is an outstanding scientist, and this recognition is richly deserved by virtue of his many, many contributions to basic aspects of developmental biology and cancer. He is, in addition, a most generous person and a great citizen who has worked to make UT Southwestern a better place in countless ways,” said Dr. J. Gregory Fitz, executive vice president for academic affairs, provost and dean of UT Southwestern Medical School.
In all, the NAS announced the election of 72 new members and 18 foreign associates. Three of the scientists honored are from Texas institutions. The election of new NAS members was announced during the 148th annual meeting of the academy in Washington, D.C. The NAS is a private, nonprofit society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research.
Other UT Southwestern faculty who are members of the NAS and the years they were appointed are: Ronald W. Estabrook, Ph.D., 1979; Michael S. Brown, M.D., 1980; Joseph L. Goldstein, M.D., 1980; Jean D. Wilson, M.D., 1983; Jonathan W. Uhr, M.D., 1984; Alfred G. Gilman, M.D., Ph.D., 1985; Roger H. Unger, M.D., 1986; Steven L. McKnight, Ph.D., 1992; Ellen S. Vitetta, Ph.D., 1994; Johann Deisenhofer, Ph.D., 1997; Eric N. Olson, Ph.D., 2000; Joseph Takahashi, Ph.D., 2003; Masashi Yanagisawa, M.D., Ph.D., 2003; Xiaodong Wang, Ph.D., 2004; Melanie Cobb, Ph.D., 2006; David Russell, Ph.D., 2006; Helen Hobbs, M.D., 2007; David Mangelsdorf, Ph.D., 2008.
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