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Victor Ambros named fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science

UMass Medical School Communications

November 27, 2018
  Victor Ambros, PhD
 

Victor Ambros, PhD

Victor Ambros, PhD, the Silverman Chair in Natural Sciences and professor of molecular medicine, has been elected by his peers as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Dr. Ambros, a central figure in RNA biology, was elected for his contributions to the study of genetics. Ambros and his lab discovered microRNA, also known as miRNA, in the nematode C. elegans in 1993. These tiny RNA molecules have the ability to regulate or silence gene expression, giving them a profound and far-reaching impact on most biological processes governing health and disease, including development, aging, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia and many others.

The discovery of miRNA is recognized as a pioneering step toward understanding that a host of different, and previously unknown, RNA molecules play a critical role in the complex regulation of genes. Scientists have gone on to show that disruption of these miRNA regulators can have a profound impact on or cause many diseases, including many types of cancers. The new field of miRNA profiling—determining the specific miRNA related to a particular cancer—is already being used in developing treatments for people with chronic lymphocytic leukemia. 

Ambros completed his undergraduate and graduate degrees and his postdoctoral research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He joined the faculty at Harvard in 1984 and remained there until 1992, when he accepted a faculty position at Dartmouth. He arrived at UMMS in 2007.

Ambros is among 416 AAAS members elected this year. New fellows will be recognized on Feb. 16 at the 2019 AAAS Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.

The tradition of AAAS fellows began in 1874. 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 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.

AAAS is the world’s largest general scientific society and publisher of the journal Science. AAAS was founded in 1848 and includes nearly 250 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 10 million individuals.

Ambros joins other AAAS fellows currently at UMMS, including:

    • Arlene Ash, PhD, professor of quantitative health sciences;
    • Roger Davis, PhD, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator,the H. Arthur Smith Chair in Cancer Research and professor of molecular medicine and biochemistry & molecular pharmacology;
    • Job Dekker, PhD, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, the Joseph J. Byrne Chair in Biomedical Research, professor of biochemistry & molecular pharmacology and co-director of the Program in Systems Biology;
    • Stuart Levitz, MD, professor of medicine;
    • C. Robert Matthews, PhD, the Arthur F. and Helen P. Koskinas Professor of Biochemistry & Molecular Pharmacology and chair and professor of biochemistry & molecular pharmacology;
    • Trudy G. Morrison, PhD, professor of microbiology & physiological systems;
    • Thoru Pederson, PhD, the Vitold Arnett Professor of Cell Biology and professor of biochemistry & molecular pharmacology;
    • Steven Reppert, MD, distinguished professor emeritus of neurobiology; and
    • George Witman, PhD, the George F. Booth Chair in the Basic Sciences and professor of radiology.