American Academy Elects Model Organism Pioneer Sánchez Alvarado

Stowers Institute and Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator Alejandro Sánchez Alvarado, PhD, 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

This year Sánchez Alvarado was inducted as a fellow into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He shares the honor of membership in this esteemed society of scholarship, civil dialogue and useful knowledge with some of the world’s most accomplished leaders from academia, business, public affairs, the humanities and the arts.

Since its founding in 1780, the American 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.

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

Sánchez Alvarado considers it a privilege that his work is being recognized and has no plans to rest on his laurels. “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,” he affirms.