News Release: People, University News

Dec. 21,  2009

AAAS Selects Two Emory Researchers as 2009 Fellows

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Stuart Zola, PhD, director of the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University, and Larry Young, PhD, Yerkes researcher and professor, Emory University School of Medicine, have been selected as American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) fellows, an honor AAAS members bestow upon their peers. AAAS is the world's largest general scientific society and publisher of the journal Science.

Zola, a renowned neuroscientist, was selected as an AAAS fellow for "distinguished contributions in neuroscience, including the delineation of the brain's memory system, and for communicating the importance and excitement of science to the lay public." Zola has contributed valuable insights into how the brain organizes memory and how this relates to memory problems such as amnesia. He was instrumental in developing a model of human amnesia in nonhuman primates in order to identify brain structures critical to memory function. His research has contributed significant insights into the memory loss in humans resulting from head trauma and progressive diseases, such as Alzheimer's, as well as less-severe memory problems that often accompany depression, chronic stress and normal aging. Currently, he is studying patients who have mild cognitive impairment as a way to identify those who later may be affected by Alzheimer's disease.

Young, chair of the Yerkes division of Behavioral Neuroscience and professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Emory University School of Medicine, was selected as an AAAS fellow for "distinguished contributions to neurogenetics, including elucidating molecules and mechanisms that mediate social behaviors in mammals." Young's research focuses on better understanding the relationship between genes, the brain and behavior to gain insight in human disorders characterized with social impairments, such as autism. He recently published information on successfully generating the first transgenic prairie voles, an important step toward unlocking the genetic secrets of pair bonding and enabling scientists to perform genetic manipulations that will help identify the brain mechanisms of social bonding and other complex social behaviors.

"Dr. Zola and Dr. Young have been pioneering contributors to the advancement of the neurosciences, and both are extremely deserving of this high honor," says Fred Sanfilippo, MD, PhD, executive vice president of health affairs, Emory University, and CEO of Emory's Woodruff Health Sciences Center. "I congratulate them, and I am very proud to have them represent Emory and our health sciences center as AAAS fellows."

This year, AAAS awarded 531 members the honor of fellows. The tradition began in 1874. Members can be considered for the rank of fellow if nominated by the steering groups of the Association's 24 sections, by any three fellows who are current AAAS members (so long as two of the three sponsors are not affiliated with the nominee's institution) or by the AAAS chief executive officer. Each steering group reviews the nominations of individuals within its respective section and forwards a final list to the AAAS Council, which votes on the aggregate list. The council is the policymaking body of the Association, chaired by the AAAS president, and consists of the members of the board of directors, the retiring section chairs, delegates from each electorate and each regional division, and two delegates from the National Association of Academies of Science.

For nearly eight decades, the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University, has been dedicated to conducting essential basic science and translational research to advance scientific understanding and to improve the health and well-being of humans and nonhuman primates. Today, the center, as one of only eight National-Institutes of Health-funded national primate research centers, provides leadership, training and resources to foster scientific creativity, collaboration and discoveries. Yerkes-based research is grounded in scientific integrity, expert knowledge, respect for colleagues, an open exchange of ideas and compassionate quality animal care.

Within the fields of microbiology, immunology, neuroscience and psychobiology, the center's research programs are seeking ways to: develop vaccines for infectious and noninfectious diseases, such as AIDS and Alzheimer's disease; treat cocaine addiction; interpret brain activity through imaging; increase understanding of progressive illnesses such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's; unlock the secrets of memory; determine behavioral effects of hormone replacement therapy; address vision disorders; and advance knowledge about the evolutionary links between biology and behavior.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is the world's largest general scientific society, and publisher of the journal, Science (www.sciencemag.org) as well as Science Translational Medicine (www.sciencetranslationalmedicine.org) and Science Signaling (www.sciencesignaling.org). AAAS was founded in 1848, and includes some 262 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 10 million individuals. Science has the largest paid circulation of any peer-reviewed general science journal in the world, with an estimated total readership of 1 million. The non-profit AAAS (www.aaas.org) is open to all and fulfills its mission to "advance science and serve society" through initiatives in science policy; international programs; science education; and more. For the latest research news, log onto EurekAlert!, www.eurekalert.org, the premier science-news Web site, a service of AAAS.

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