Two Columbia University professors have been elected to the National Academy of Sciences during the 142 annual meeting. Andrew R. Marks, director of the Center for Molecular Cardiology, and Iva S. Greenwald, professor of biochemistry and molecular biophysics, join 70 other new members cited for their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research.
Election to membership in the Academy is considered one of the highest honors that can be accorded a U.S. scientist or engineer.
Since the early 1990s, Marks, who is also chair of the Department of Physiology and Cellular Biophysics at the College of Physicians & Surgeons, has been working on two major studies on heart disease. He is the first to discover a new use for Sirolimus, a drug found to help keep stents open. Stents are devices surgically inserted into a patient's coronary artery to prevent blockage or closure. The Sirolimus-coated stent works by preventing cells from growing inside the stent and blocking it.
Marks is also an expert on how calcium regulates muscle contraction, and he discovered a calcium leak that causes heart failure and sudden cardiac death. He is now working to develop a new class of drugs known as "calcium-channel stabilizers" for prevention of heart failure and sudden cardiac death.
"I'm thrilled," Professor Marks said. "It's a peak moment in my career; receiving the recognition from one's peers symbolized by election to the National Academy of Sciences is most gratifying. In addition, the academy is an important institution that helps shape public policy in the sciences, and I look forward to making a contribution in this area."
Professor Greenwald, also an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, focuses on cellular development. During animal development, intercellular communication plays important roles in specifying cell fates. Work from her laboratory has helped establish the nature of certain cell-cell interactions in nematodes, a type of roundworm commonly used in scientific research.
"I've known Iva Greenwald since she was a graduate student, and I've watched her maturation as a scientist throughout her career," said David Hirsh, executive vice president for research and a professor of biochemistry and molecular biophysics. "It's gratifying to see this recognition come to someone who has made such profound discoveries on how cells gain their individual identities."