Weill Cornell researchers elected Fellows of AAAS

November 29, 2012

NEW YORK (Nov. 29, 2012) -- Weill Cornell Medical College researchers Dr. Shahin Rafii and Dr. Xin-Yun Huang have been elected new Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world's largest general scientific society, for their significant contributions to the advancement of the biological sciences.

Dr. Rafii, director of the Ansary Stem Cell Institute and the Arthur B. Belfer Professor in Genetic Medicine at Weill Cornell, is honored for his important contributions to the field of vascular biology, stem cell homeostasis and the development of transformative preclinical models to induce organ regeneration and target tumors. Dr. Huang, professor of physiology and biophysics at Weill Cornell, is recognized for his distinguished contributions in the field of cellular signaling, particularly his investigations of G-protein-mediated cell signaling.

"Dr. Rafii and Dr. Huang's research discoveries in cellular communication, stem cell research, cancer and vascular disease have led to major advancements in biomedical research and the development of targeted therapies," says Dr. Laurie H. Glimcher, the Stephen and Suzanne Weiss Dean of Weill Cornell Medical College, who is also a Fellow of AAAS. "Weill Cornell is very proud of the work of these two world-renowned innovators in medicine and their new membership in this prominent community of scientists dedicated to advancing science around the world."

This year, Dr. Rafii and Dr. Huang are among the 702 new Fellows awarded election to the AAAS for their scientifically or socially-distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications. This prestigious honor of AAAS election is bestowed by peer Fellows of AAAS.

Dr. Rafii and Dr. Huang will be presented with an official certificate and a gold and blue rosette pin, representing science and engineering, on Saturday, Feb. 16 at the AAAS Fellows Forum during the 2013 AAAS Annual Meeting in Boston, MA. Also, new AAAS Fellows will be announced in the AAAS' journal Science on Nov. 30.

Dr. Rafii, an internationally known vascular biologist, cancer and stem-cell authority, is also an investigator of Howard Hughes Medical Institute at Weill Cornell. Dr. Rafii's research explores innovative therapeutic frontiers for cancer and vascular disorders. His research focuses on the understanding of stem cell biology, as well as the means to develop and test innovative approaches to treat cancer and vascular disorders by exploring the therapeutic potential of human and embryonic stem cells and, most recently, amniotic-fluid derived cells for treatment of human malignancies, vascular diseases and genetic disorders. His work has paved the way for stem-cell therapy for the treatment of vascular insufficiencies. Dr. Rafii received his undergraduate degree in chemistry from Cornell University and his medical degree from Albert Einstein College of Medicine. He has been funded by multiple grants from the National Institute of Health's Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, and is an active member of the Tumor Microenvironment Study Section at the National Cancer Institute. He is an elected member of the American Society of Clinical Investigation, an American Cancer Society Scholar and a Translational Researcher of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Dr. Huang's research focuses on G protein-coupled receptors and G proteins that are key cell signaling molecules with the ability to control and disseminate information flow. G protein-coupled receptors represent approximately 40 percent of the current drug targets. These receptors are activated by a diverse array of ligands, including photons, odorants, chemokines, hormones, growth factors and neurotransmitters. The GPCR-G protein signaling system plays critical roles in various physiological functions such as cardiovascular and neurological functions, and in human diseases such as cancer. Dr. Huang examines signal transduction using biochemical, genetic, molecular, cellular and structural biological approaches to uncover fundamental mechanisms that govern cellular signaling and physiological functions. His team inspects cross-talk between G proteins and nonreceptor tyrosine kinases, two of the most widely used cellular signaling mechanisms. Dr. Huang explores the activation mechanisms of G proteins by G protein-coupled receptors, the regulatory mechanisms of endothelial cell migration, blood vessel formation and tumor angiogenesis by G proteins, as well as the control mechanisms for actin cytoskeletal reorganization, cell migration and tumor metastasis. Dr. Huang completed his undergraduate studies at Wuhan University in China, received his Ph.D. from the University of Houston and his postdoctoral research training at Columbia University and Harvard University.

The AAAS Fellows tradition began in 1874. Currently, members can be considered for the rank of Fellow if nominated by the steering groups of the Association's 24 sections, or by any three Fellows who are current AAAS members, or by the AAAS chief executive officer. Each steering group then reviews the nominations of individuals within its respective section and a final list is forwarded 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 consisting 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.
The American Association for the Advancement of Science

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is the world's largest general scientific society, and publisher of the journal, Science as well as Science Translational Medicine and Science Signaling. AAAS was founded in 1848, and includes 261 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 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.

Weill Cornell Medical College

Weill Cornell Medical College, Cornell University's medical school located in New York City, is committed to excellence in research, teaching, patient care and the advancement of the art and science of medicine, locally, nationally and globally. Physicians and scientists of Weill Cornell Medical College are engaged in cutting-edge research from bench to bedside, aimed at unlocking mysteries of the human body in health and sickness and toward developing new treatments and prevention strategies. In its commitment to global health and education, Weill Cornell has a strong presence in places such as Qatar, Tanzania, Haiti, Brazil, Austria and Turkey. Through the historic Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar, the Medical College is the first in the U.S. to offer its M.D. degree overseas. Weill Cornell is the birthplace of many medical advances -- including the development of the Pap test for cervical cancer, the synthesis of penicillin, the first successful embryo-biopsy pregnancy and birth in the U.S., the first clinical trial of gene therapy for Parkinson's disease, and most recently, the world's first successful use of deep brain stimulation to treat a minimally conscious brain-injured patient. Weill Cornell Medical College is affiliated with NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, where its faculty provides comprehensive patient care at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center. The Medical College is also affiliated with the Methodist Hospital in Houston. For more information, visit weill.cornell.edu.

NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center

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