Pope Appoints New York Biologist to Science Academy

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Pope Francis named a pioneering U.S. scientist specializing in stem-cell research to the Pontifical Academy for Sciences.

Elaine Fuchs, professor and head of the laboratory of mammalian cell biology and development at The Rockefeller University in Manhattan, was appointed to the papal think tank, according to a Vatican press release published May 5, her birthday.

Ms. Fuchs, 68, has done ground-breaking research on the biology of skin stem cells, studying how these cells make and repair tissues, how they “communicate” with other neighboring cells, and how the communication malfunctions in cancer and aging, according to the press release.

The research is aimed at developing therapies that enhance wound repair and impact the stem cells of tumors, it said.

Born in Hinsdale, Ill., she earned a degree in chemistry from the University of Illinois and received her doctorate in biochemistry from Princeton University. She was the first woman hired in the biochemistry department at the University of Chicago in 1980.

In addition to working at Rockefeller University, she is also an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute—a philanthropic organization working to advance biomedical research and science education.

She is a member of many top science associations, including the National Academy of Medicine, and is the recipient of numerous awards, including the National Medal of Science. —CNS

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