Gerald F. Joyce, M.D., Ph.D., has been named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Election as an AAAS Fellow is an honor bestowed upon AAAS members by their peers for their extraordinary achievements in the advancements of science. This year 396 members have been awarded this honor by AAAS because of their scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications.
“I have been a member of the AAAS for nearly 30 years and am honored to be named a AAAS Fellow. The organization is a key voice for the importance of good science in our complex society,” says Joyce.
Dr. Joyce is the Institute Director of the Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation (GNF). He also is a member of the faculty of the Salk Institute, where he maintains a laboratory in the Jack H. Skirball Center for Chemical Biology and Proteomics. His research program has concerned the development of novel RNA and DNA enzymes and their potential application in clinical diagnostics and therapeutics. Dr. Joyce's research has led to the development of the first self-replicating RNA enzyme, which is capable of exponential growth and evolution. The field of in vitro evolution seeks to re-create the biomolecules of early life and to coax the building blocks of RNA to assemble, replicate and evolve. Although we can’t know exactly how the first genetic molecules developed, re-creating plausible facsimiles in the lab may give some insight into early evolutionary processes as well as how to design synthetic RNA molecules for therapeutic uses in diseases such as cancer, immune defects and viral infection. His peers elected him as a AAAS Fellow for his distinguished research which has a profound impact on the scientific understanding of Darwinian evolution at the molecular level, especially pertaining to the evolution of RNA.