December 18, 2008

Geoffrey M. Wahl named 2008 AAAS Fellow

Salk News

Geoffrey M. Wahl named 2008 AAAS Fellow

Salk researcher Geoffrey M. Wahl, a professor in the Gene Expression Laboratory, has been awarded the distinction of AAAS Fellow, an honor bestowed upon members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science by their peers.

Wahl was among 486 individuals awarded membership by the AAAS this year for their scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science. The new Fellows will be presented with an official certificate and a gold and blue (representing science and engineering, respectively) rosette pin during the 2009 AAAS annual meeting in Chicago on Feb. 14.

Wahl and his team of investigators at the Salk Institute study the genetic basis of the origin and progression of cancer, while also working toward the development of new targeted therapeutic strategies. Their work has demonstrated that integrity of the p53 tumor suppressor pathway is essential for maintaining genome stability.

Their current research uses the p53 pathway as a model to understand the mechanisms by which normal and cancer cells sense and respond to the diverse stresses that contribute to cancer development. Wahl and his team are identifying, isolating and characterizing stem cells in different tissues, and developing safer and more effective strategies to convert differentiated cells into stem cells for use in therapies.

Over the course of his distinguished career, Wahl has authored more than 140 research papers, including one designated a “Citation Classic” for the number of times it has been referenced by other scientists in their papers, and has developed many research techniques that have been widely patented and licensed.

A past President of the American Associate for Cancer Research (AACR, 2006-2007), which is the largest and oldest organization devoted to cancer research in the world, Wahl remains a strong supporter of cancer research outside of the laboratory by lobbying Congress for increased funding, and has written about the societal and economic benefits of cancer research for the lay press. He currently serves on the AACR Foundation Board and on the Science Policy and Legislative Affairs Committee. He also serves on the editorial boards of numerous scientific journals.

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, or 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.

Each steering group then 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.

About the Salk Institute:

The Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California, is an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to fundamental discoveries in the life sciences, the improvement of human health and the training of future generations of researchers. Jonas Salk, M.D., whose polio vaccine all but eradicated the crippling disease poliomyelitis in 1955, founded the Institute in 1960 with a gift of land from the City of San Diego and the financial support of the March of Dimes.

About AAAS:

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is the world’s largest general scientific society, and publisher of the journal, Science ( AAAS was founded in 1848, and includes some 262 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 10 million individuals. Science has the largest paid circulation of any peer-reviewed general science journal in the world, with an estimated total readership of 1 million. The non-profit AAAS ( is open to all and fulfills its mission to “advance science and serve society” through initiatives in science policy; international programs; science education; and more. For the latest research news, log onto EurekAlert!,, the premier science-news Web site, a service of AAAS.

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