Two Yale scientists have been named to the Royal Society, the United Kingdom’s national academy of science. Mark A. Lemmon, Ph.D., the David A. Sackler Professor of Pharmacology and co-director of the Yale Cancer Biology Institute, has been elected a Fellow. Pasko Rakic, M.D., Ph.D., the Dorys McConnell Duberg Professor of Neuroscience and professor of neurology, is one of only 10 newly chosen Foreign Members.
The Society recognizes Lemmon’s research into basic biochemistry and biophysics questions, which has yielded significant insights within the fields of cell signaling and cancer research. For much of his career, Lemmon has studied the signaling mechanisms of cell surface receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) that, when mutated, cause cancers and other diseases.
His findings are helping to guide clinical decisions on which treatment best suits each individual patient. They bring biochemistry and structural biology into personalized medicine by explaining the variety of ways in which different mutations activate the cancer-related proteins in which they are found.
In the early 1990s, Lemmon pursued M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in molecular biophysics and biochemistry at Yale with Donald Engelman. He completed his postdoctoral studies at New York University Medical Center’s pharmacology department under the mentorship of Joseph Schlessinger, Ph.D., now chair of pharmacology and William H. Prusoff Professor of Pharmacology at Yale.
Lemmon was the George W. Raiziss Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics and department chair at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine before he returned to Yale in 2015.
Throughout his distinguished career, Rakic has dedicated himself to brain development research. The Society commends his insights into the cellular and molecular mechanisms of neuronal proliferation, migration, and synaptogenesis that occur during the evolution of the cerebral cortex.
He has shown that axons, synapses and neurotransmitters are overproduced before declining to adult levels by a process of competitive selective elimination, and added insight into genetic and environmental causes of congenital brain disorders.
Rakic was recruited to Yale from Harvard’s faculty by George Palade in 1979, to establish what then was called the Section of Neuroanatomy.In 2001 the section became the Department of Neurobiology, which he continued to chair until 2015 when it became the Department of Neuroscience. Rakic also founded the Kavli Institute for Neuroscience at Yale and remained its director until 2015.
His honors include membership in the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2008, he was awarded the inaugural Kavli Prize in Neuroscience.