(From the December 2013 issue of Research Now)
Brian K. Kaspar, PhD, and Veronica J. Vieland, PhD, principal investigators in The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, have been named Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). The honor recognizes select AAAS members for their scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications.
“Election to fellowship in the AAAS is among the highest honors bestowed to American scientists and is reflective of a distinguished track record of advancing science in the areas of research, education, service and communication,” says John A. Barnard, MD, president of The Research Institute. “At Nationwide Children’s Hospital, we are privileged and proud to work with two of our nation’s leading biomedical research scientists, Dr. Kaspar and Dr. Vieland, as they advance our mission of discovery to improve the lives of children and families.”
Dr. Kaspar holds the Grant Morrow III, MD, Endowed Chair in Pediatric Research and is a principal investigator in the Center for Gene Therapy at Nationwide Children’s. He also is an associate professor of pediatrics and neurosciences at The Ohio State University.
Studies in Dr. Kaspar’s lab involve basic and translational research related to neurological and neuromuscular disorders, specifically the mechanisms of neurodegeneration in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and spinal muscular atrophy (SMA). Dr. Kaspar is involved in a number of clinical trials investigating new therapeutics to treat Becker and Duchenne muscular dystrophies. In 2014, technology he discovered--a gene delivery agent to treat SMA--will undergo a phase I clinical trial. His research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health and has been published in Nature, Science, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and many other leading peer-reviewed journals.
Dr. Vieland holds the Battelle Chair in Quantitative and Computational Biology and is the director of the Battelle Center for Mathematical Medicine and the vice president for Computational Research at Nationwide Children’s. She also is a professor of pediatrics and statistics at The Ohio State University.
Studies in Dr. Vieland’s lab focus on the statistical and computational techniques that underlie human gene mapping, gene identification and characterization of the genetic architecture of complex clinical phenotypes. She has been involved in a number of clinical research studies into the genetics of autism, cleft lip and palate, schizophrenia, autoimmune thyroid disease and papillary thyroid cancer, among other conditions. Dr. Vieland has received numerous grants from the NIH and has published more than 100 articles in such peer-reviewed journals as the Journal of the American Medical Association, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences andNature Genetics.
The appointments of Drs. Kaspar and Vieland bring the total number of AAAS Fellows at Nationwide Children’s to four. Peter Houghton, PhD, director of the Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Diseases, received the honor in 2012 and Christopher M. Walker, PhD, director of the Center for Vaccines and Immunity, was named a Fellow in 2006.
The tradition of AAAS Fellows 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, 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. Fellows must have been continuous members of AAAS for four years by the end of the calendar year in which they are elected.
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.
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.
A total of 388 scientists nationwide received this honor this year. The Fellows will be formally announced in the AAAS News & Notes section of the journal Science on Nov. 29 and receive a pin and certificate at the AAAS Fellows Forum during the 2014 AAAS Annual Meeting in Chicago on Feb. 15, 2014.