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Pam Silver elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Pamela Silver honored for seminal contributions to synthetic biology, cell and systems biology, RNA biology and cancer therapeutics

By Benjamin Boettner

(BOSTON) — Pamela Silver, Ph.D., a Core Faculty member of the Wyss Institute of Biologically Inspired Engineering and the Eliot T. and Onie H. Adams Professor of Biochemistry and Systems Biology at Harvard Medical School (HMS)’s Department of Systems Biology has been elected to be a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Pamela Silver, Ph.D., Founding Core Faculty, Wyss Institute at Harvard University, Elliot T. and Onie H. Adams Professor of Biochemistry and Systems Biology at Harvard Medical School. Credit: Wyss Institute at Harvard University

Along with 188 other new fellows and 40 Foreign Honorary Members, Silver joins a group of some of the world’s most accomplished scholars, scientists, engineers, writers, and artists, as well as civic, business, and philanthropic leaders. Founded in 1780, the Academy has been convening its leaders from the academic, business, and government sectors to provide policy advice relating to challenges facing the nation and the world. Among the Academy’s Fellows are more than 250 Nobel laureates and 60 Pulitzer Prize winners.

Silver is a pioneer in the emerging field of synthetic biology. Her work focuses on re-programming both eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells, enabling them to report drug- and radiation exposures, become diagnostic indicators, and deliver therapeutics in humans and animals. In addition, she has identified critical pathways that allow carbon to be fixated in the process of photosynthesis and has been using these insights to design new solutions for sustainability. In the field of gene regulation, Silver discovered key mechanisms of how genetic information is stored in DNA, and translated into functional proteins in cells.

She earned her Ph.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles and pursued her postdoctoral training at Harvard University. Later, Silver became one of the founding members of the Department of Systems Biology at HMS and a founding core faculty member of the Wyss Institute. She was the first Director of the Harvard University Graduate Program.

Among other honors, her work was recognized with an Innovation Award at BIO2007, and Innocentive Award. She was awarded a National Institute of Health (NIH) MERIT award and became a Fellow of the Radcliffe Institute. In addition, Silver has been named one of the top twenty Global Synthetic Biology Influencers, top 300 people in the Bioeconomy.

Sharing her exceptional expertise, Silver has served on the editorial boards of numerous scientific journals, was the Editor of the widely read ‘Molecular Biology of the Cell’ book, and a member of the Council of the American Society of Cell Biology and the Committee for Women in Cell Biology.

Silver is joining two other HMS members, Myles Brown, HMS Professor of Medicine at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and Alan Garber, the Mallinckrodt Professor of Health Care Policy at HMS, who also is the Harvard University Provost, to be elected to this year’s class of national and international leaders of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

The new class will be formally inducted at a ceremony on October 7, 2017, in Cambridge Massachusetts.

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