Monday, 02 June 2014 07:26

Our People—Yale’s Joan Steitz named to Royal Society

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HHMI Joan Steitz Yale 00010A pioneer in RNA biology, Joan Steitz adds membership
in the Royal Society to a long list of honors.
Photo by Brian Ach/AP Images for HHMI
Yale professor, Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, and ASCB member, Joan Argetsinger Steitz has been elected a foreign member of the Royal Society in the UK. Steitz was an early pioneer in RNA biology, discovering much of the machinery and key players in RNA splicing. She went on to elucidate the role of small nucleic ribonucleoparticles (snRNPs or "snurps") in modifying non-coding introns and continues her work on microRNAs in gene regulation. The Royal Society membership joins a long list of Steitz's honors and awards including the Gairdner International Award in 2006 and the ASCB's highest scientific honor, the E.B. Wilson Medal, in 2005.

A graduate of Antioch College, Steitz was steered into research biology during a summer internship in the University of Minnesota lab of ASCB stalwart Joe Gall. At a time when women were just breaking into molecular biology, she became Jim Watson's first female graduate student at Harvard University. As a postdoc in the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, UK, she worked with Francis Crick, Sydney Brenner, and Mark Bretscher. She joined Yale in 1970 and is now the Sterling Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry.

John Fleischman

John is ASCB Senior Science Writer and the author among other things of two nonfiction books for older children, "Phineas Gage: A Gruesome But True Story About Brain Science" and "Black & White Airmen," both from Houghton-Mifflin-Harcourt, Boston.

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