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UT MD Anderson President Ronald DePinho Elected to National Academy of Sciences

MD Anderson News Release 05/01/12

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center President Ronald DePinho, M.D., has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) - one of the most prestigious accolades in the United States bestowed in the field of science and engineering.

DePinho is the first member of the MD Anderson faculty to be recognized with this distinction.

The NAS is a private, nonprofit society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research. Established in 1863 by President Abraham Lincoln, the NAS has served to "investigate, examine, experiment, and report upon any subject of science or art" whenever called upon to do so by any department of the government.

DePinho was elected along with 83 other members and 21 non-voting foreign associates from 15 countries. Currently, there are 2,152 active NAS members and 430 foreign associates. Nearly 200 living NAS members have won Nobel Prizes. Among the NAS's most famous members were Albert Einstein, Robert Oppenheimer, Thomas Edison, Orville Wright and Alexander Graham Bell.

"I'm thrilled beyond words," says DePinho. "It's recognition of the enormous dedication and talent of the trainees that have been in my lab. I have been incredibly fortunate to be surrounded by great people at great institutions throughout my career. Most importantly, this is an award recognizing the personal and scientific support of my wife, Dr. Lynda Chin."

DePinho was nominated by three NAS current members.

"DePinho's work on telomeres and checkpoints established that telomere attrition can have dual effects in human cancer by driving tumor suppression or enhancement, depending on genetic background," according to the academy citation. "His work also uncovered the mechanism for the increasing risk that advancing age confers on the development of the common human epithelial malignancies."

DePinho is internationally recognized for basic and translational research in cancer, aging and age-associated degenerative disorders. The range of his research includes cancer drug and biomarker development, cancer gene discovery, stem cell biology and development of genetically engineered mouse models to study cancer in humans. His laboratory has produced an array of discoveries leading to better methods of early cancer detection, improved cancer patient care and new cancer drug development.

After a worldwide search, DePinho was appointed president of MD Anderson - just the fourth in the institution's 71-year history - on Sept. 1, 2011. Prior to this appointment, he served as the director of the Belfer Institute for Applied Cancer Science at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and professor of medicine (genetics) at Harvard Medical School.

DePinho also held numerous faculty positions at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. He received a bachelor's degree in biological sciences from Fordham College and his medical degree with distinction in microbiology and immunology from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. He is a member of the Institute of Medicine and fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

DePinho will be inducted into the NAS in April 2013. 

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