October 19, 2011

Salk Institute molecular biologist Inder M. Verma named PNAS editor-in-chief

Salk News

Salk Institute molecular biologist Inder M. Verma named PNAS editor-in-chief

WASHINGTON, DC—The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) announces the appointment of Inder M. Verma, Ph.D., as editor-in-chief of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), the official NAS journal. He will formally assume the editorship on November 1, and the transition to the new position will occur over several weeks.

An American Cancer Society Professor of molecular biology in the Laboratory of Genetics at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California, Verma was elected to the NAS in 1997 and has served on the Editorial Board of PNAS since 2001.

“Dr. Inder Verma is known worldwide for his scientific creativity and for his conscientiousness and fair-mindedness,” said Ralph Cicerone, president of the National Academy of Sciences. “He is the ideal person to lead PNAS, an already-premier science journal that continues to improve.”

Verma’s research focuses on cancer genetics, inflammation, and gene therapy. His laboratory helped reveal that the aberrant expression of normal cellular genes can lead to cancer. Verma’s team also demonstrated that the enzyme reverse transcriptase produces complementary DNA from messenger RNA, and they were among the first to use a retroviral vector to correct a genetic deficiency. His group later developed lentiviral vectors, now extensively used in a variety of biological settings.

Verma, who will succeed current Editor-in-Chief Randy Schekman, has emphasized that PNAS should not be viewed as a closed journal, limited to the privileged few who can bypass a rigorous review process to get their work published. “Direct Submission has gone a long way to diminish this perception, but perceptions last longer than reality,” Verma said. He hopes to accomplish this goal through “continuous rigor in reviewing Direct Submission and Contributed Submissions, promotion of work published by non-NAS members, and educating younger scientists that publication in PNAS is open to all with a fair review process to publish the best science.”

After receiving a Ph.D. in biochemistry from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, Verma performed postdoctoral research in the laboratory of Nobel laureate David Baltimore at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Among Verma’s recent honors are the 2010 Pasarow Award in Cancer Research, the 2010 Spector Prize from Columbia University, the 2009 Irwin & Joan Jacobs Chair in Exemplary Life Sciences, the 2009 Outstanding Achievement Award from the American Society of Gene Therapy, the 2008 Lifetime Achievement Award of the American Association of Indian Scientists in Cancer Research, the 2008 Vilcek Foundation Prize, and the 2007 Cozzarelli Prize. In addition to being a member of NAS, Verma is a member of the Institute of Medicine, American Philosophical Society, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Third World Academy of Sciences. In 2000, Verma was the founding Editor-in-Chief of Molecular Therapy, a journal of the American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy.

“My first paper as an independent faculty member was communicated to PNAS in 1974, which to this day I remember with great pride and a sense of achievement,” Verma said. “Being the Editor-in-Chief of PNAS will allow me to engage more researchers in a common goal of making science more accessible, and hence interesting, to the public.”

One of the world’s most-cited multidisciplinary scientific serials, PNAS publishes original research reports, commentaries, reviews, perspectives, colloquium papers, and actions of the Academy. Coverage in PNAS spans the biological, physical, and social sciences. PNAS publishes weekly in print, and daily online in PNAS Early Edition.

The National Academy of Sciences is a private organization of scientists and engineers dedicated to the furtherance of science and its use for the general welfare. It was established in 1863 by a congressional act of incorporation signed by Abraham Lincoln that calls on the Academy to act as an official adviser to the federal government, upon request, in any matter of science or technology.

About the Salk Institute for Biological Studies:

The Salk Institute for Biological Studies is one of the world’s preeminent basic research institutions, where internationally renowned faculty probe fundamental life science questions in a unique, collaborative, and creative environment. Focused both on discovery and on mentoring future generations of researchers, Salk scientists make groundbreaking contributions to our understanding of cancer, aging, Alzheimer’s, diabetes and infectious diseases by studying neuroscience, genetics, cell and plant biology, and related disciplines.

Faculty achievements have been recognized with numerous honors, including Nobel Prizes and memberships in the National Academy of Sciences. Founded in 1960 by polio vaccine pioneer Jonas Salk, M.D., the Institute is an independent nonprofit organization and architectural landmark.

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