TAMEST welcomes three new members as a result of the recent National Academy of Sciences (NAS) elections: Dora Angelaki, Ph.D., Baylor College of Medicine; Zhijian "James" Chen, Ph.D., The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center; and Martin Matzuk, M.D., Ph.D., Baylor College of Medicine. This brings the membership total to 271, the highest level of membership in the organization’s history.
Dora Angelaki, Ph.D.
Wilhelmina Robertson Professor and Chair
Department of Neuroscience
Baylor College of Medicine
Dr. Dora Angelaki’s research focuses on understanding how multisensory information flows between subcortical and cortical brain areas, as well as the spatial navigation, decision-making and episodic memory circuits, and how internal states modulate this information flow. Her research team uses innovative approaches to explore and understand neural dynamics and network coding of multi-sensory and multi-modal information at multiple stages of processing under diverse naturalistic and perceptual contexts related to navigation, planning and perceptual decisions. They are interested in the neural implementation of canonical neural computations and how they go astray to result in sensory, motor, memory and cognitive deficits in diseases like autism and schizophrenia. Their goal is to use this knowledge to understand computational principles of disease, to inspire artificial systems, to aid the development of prosthetics and other tools for understanding and treating deficits of sensory coding, spatial orientation, cognition and action.
In 2012, Dr. Angelaki was awarded the inaugural Pradel Research Award in Neuroscience by the NAS in recognition of her discoveries on mechanisms of representation of vestibular sensory stimuli within the mammalian brain. Her work has clarified how vestibular and visual signals combine to mediate perception and to direct appropriate motor behaviors, which have important implications in the design of more effective therapies to treat disorders of balance and movement. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAAS) and the Society for Neuroscience.
Zhijian "James" Chen, Ph.D.
Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute
George L. MacGregor Distinguished Chair in Biomedical Science
Professor, Department of Molecular Biology
The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
Dr. Zhijian “James” Chen has been a pioneer in deciphering the mechanisms of cell signaling, inflammation, and innate immunity—the body’s first, generalized response to infection. Early in his career, he uncovered a new, unexpected role for ubiquitin, a small protein, showing that it activates other proteins important to growth regulation and other essential cellular functions.
In other work, he found that the cell’s energy-producing bodies, the mitochondria, contribute to the body’s immune response and identified MAVS, the first beneficial prion found in humans. More recently, he discovered a new pathway called the cGAS pathway, which activates the immune system in response to microbial and self DNA. His work has revolutionized our understanding of fundamental mechanisms of cellular responses to viral infections and has revealed new targets for drug development to fight infectious diseases as well as autoimmune diseases.
Dr. Chen is the recipient of the Welch Foundation’s 2005 Norman Hackerman Award in Chemical Research and TAMEST’s 2007 Edith and Peter O’Donnell Award in Science. In 2012, the NAS honored Dr. Chen with its Award in Molecular Biology, which recognizes “a recent notable discovery in molecular biology” by an American scientist under age 45.
Martin Matzuk, M.D., Ph.D.
Director, Center for Drug Discovery
Stuart A. Wallace Chair and Professor, Department of Pathology & Immunology
Baylor College of Medicine
Dr. Martin Matzuk has used functional genomics approaches to investigate normal and abnormal mammalian reproductive development. He has co-authored over 300 articles, many of which are in top-tier biomedical journals. He served as treasurer of the Society for the Study of Reproduction (SSR), chair on the NIH’s Cellular, Molecular, and Integrative Reproduction Study Section, and co-chair on Burroughs Wellcome Fund Career Awards committees.
Dr. Matzuk is the recipient of numerous awards and has delivered 160 symposium lectures including the inaugural Ernst Knobil Lecturer at the University of Pittsburgh, the inaugural Billie Fields Lecturer at the University of Illinois, the Richard E. Weitzman Memorial Award from the Endocrine Society, the HypoCCS Award from Eli Lilly, the SSR Research Award, the Pfizer Outstanding Investigator Award from the American Society for Investigative Pathology, the Founders Award Lecture for the Society for Reproductive Biology, the Royal College Lectureship from the Canadian Society of Endocrinology and Metabolism, the Roy O. Greep Award from the Endocrine Society, the 5th International Fundacion IVI Award for Best Basic Research Record in Reproductive Medicine, and a MERIT award from the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Matzuk was elected to membership in the National Academy of Sciences in 2014.