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Four locals elected to National Academy of Sciences

Three scientists at the Scripps Research Institute and one at the Salk Institute were elected to the National Academy of Sciences in April.

The Academy made the announcement during its 145th annual meeting in Washington, D.C.

Election to the Academy recognizes distinguished and continuing achievements in original research and is considered one of the highest honors accorded a U.S. scientist. Roughly 2,100 of America’s scientists are current Academy members, about 200 of them are also Nobel laureates.

The newly elected members from Scripps are Bruce Beutler, M.D.; Michael B.A. Oldstone, M.D; and Peter Wright, Ph.D. With this election, the number of National Academy of Sciences members currently working at Scripps Research stands at 19.

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Scripps Research was the only independent research institution in the nation to have three faculty members chosen this year.

The new member from the Salk Institute is Professor Thomas Albright.

Fourteen of the Salk Institute’s 57 faculty are now members of the Academy.

Beutler, whose father is also an Academy member, is chair of the department of Genetics at Scripps Research. His research focuses on the search for genes that are required for normal immune function. The long-range goal of the laboratory is to identify the key genes required for resistance to infection and to determine how they interact with one another.

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Oldstone is a professor in the Scripps Research Department of Molecular and Integrative Neurosciences, and an adjunct professor in the Scripps Florida Department of Infectology. His laboratory studies the interaction and consequences of virus-host interactions.

Wright is chair of the Department of Molecular Biology, Cecil H. and Ida M. Green Investigator in Medical Research, and member of the Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology at Scripps Research. His laboratory has helped pioneer the use of high-resolution, multi-dimensional, hetero-nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy.

Salk’s Albright has been seeking new avenues to identify how sensory signals in the brain become “integrated” to form neuronal representations of the objects that populate our visual environment and form our conscious experiences of the world. He provided the first systematic evidence that humans’ perception of motion does not depend on the physical characteristics such as brightness, color or texture of the object that is moving, a feature known as “form cue invariance.”