Lucia Rothman-Denes, PhD, Professor in the Department of Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology, has been elected as a member of the National Academy of Sciences. Selected by her peers, Rothman-Denes is now part of an exclusive group of elite researchers recognized for their distinguished and continuing contributions to research. The National Academy of Sciences is charged with providing independent, objective advice to the nation on matters related to science and technology, and membership is one of the highest professional honors a scientist can achieve.
She joins Jeff Harvey, PhD, Enrico Fermi Distinguished Service Professor of Physics; Dam Thanh Son, PhD, University Professor of Physics; and Carlos Kenig, PhD, Louis Block Distinguished Service Professor of Mathematics, as new members of the Academy from the University of Chicago in 2014. The four are among 84 elected to the Academy, bringing the total number of active members to 2,214.
Rothman-Denes is best known for pioneering a novel system to study how bacterial viruses take over the molecular processes of their hosts. Combining genetic, biochemical, biophysical and structural approaches, her work has yielded fundamental insights into viral-host interactions and identified new mechanisms of regulation of gene expression at the transcriptional level. Her laboratory also focuses on further elucidating these viral-host interactions and exploiting them to discover new targets for antibacterials.
She first joined the University of Chicago faculty as an assistant professor in 1974. In 1984, she was appointed as full professor in the Department of Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology, where she has served since. She is an elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Academy of Arts & Sciences and the American Academy of Microbiology.
Rothman-Denes has shown a lifelong dedication to excellence as a teacher and mentor. As program director of the NIH Genetics and Regulation Training Grant, she chairs the steering committee that selects graduate students for admission to the training program and oversees progress in their degrees. She has taught a rigorous graduate class in molecular biology for decades, and her outstanding mentorship of both graduate and undergraduate students in her laboratory has cultivated the careers of numerous successful scientists.