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Stowers Investigator elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

22 April 2015

KANSAS CITY, MO—Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator and Stowers Institute Investigator Alejandro Sánchez Alvarado, Ph.D., has been elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Sánchez Alvarado shares the honor with some of the world’s most accomplished leaders from academia, business, public affairs, the humanities and the arts.

“We are proud of this prestigious national recognition for Dr. Sánchez Alvarado,” said David Chao, Ph.D., president and CEO of the Stowers Institute for Medical Research. “The well-deserved honor recognizes the kind of pioneering work that the Institute seeks to foster and inspire.”

Sánchez Alvarado is known for his groundbreaking work on the biology of the planaria—a flatworm model organism known for its regenerative abilities. He was among the first to demonstrate that RNA-mediated genetic interference (RNAi), a biological process in which RNA molecules inhibit gene expression, could work in organisms other than nematodes. His work paved the way for the first successful screen to identify planarian genes involved in tissue regeneration. His research has provided important insight into biological processes crucial for regeneration and essential for the normal development of animals and humans.

“It is a privilege that our work is being recognized,” Sánchez Alvarado said. “I am grateful that the Institute allows me to ponder complex ideas and pursue them experimentally. Moving forward, I intend to continue to ask questions and plumb the depths of life in a way deserving of this honor.”

Sánchez Alvarado is the seventh person from the Stowers Institute to be inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Previously elected fellows include Joan Conaway, Ph.D., Ron Conaway, Ph.D., R. Scott Hawley, Ph.D., Robert Krumlauf, Ph.D., William B. Neaves, Ph.D., and Jerry Workman, Ph.D.

“Dr. Sánchez Alvarado is a notable addition to the Academy,” Krumlauf said. “His election recognizes his trailblazing work with planarians which brings critical mechanistic insight into regenerative biology, and lays the foundation for important future discoveries.”

Sánchez Alvarado and the new class will be inducted at a special ceremony Oct. 10 in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Since its founding in 1780, the Academy has elected leading “thinkers and doers” from each generation. The current membership includes more than 250 Nobel laureates and more than 60 Pulitzer Prize winners.

As one of the nation's most prestigious honorary societies, the Academy is also a leading center for independent policy research. Members contribute to Academy publications and studies of science and technology policy, energy and global security, social policy and American Institutions, the humanities and culture, and education.

About the Stowers Institute for Medical Research

The Stowers Institute for Medical Research is a non-profit, basic biomedical research organization dedicated to improving human health by studying the fundamental processes of life. Jim Stowers, founder of American Century Investments, and his wife, Virginia, opened the Institute in 2000. Since then, the Institute has spent over 900 million dollars in pursuit of its mission.

Currently, the Institute is home to about 550 researchers and support personnel; over 20 independent research programs; and more than a dozen technology development and core facilities.

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