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NHGRI Scientific Director Daniel Kastner is inducted into the National Academy of Sciences

By Raymond MacDougall
NHGRI Staff Writer


Daniel Kastner, M.D., Ph.D.
On April 30, NHGRI Scientific Director Daniel Kastner, M.D., Ph.D., was inducted as a member of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) at a ceremony in Baltimore. NAS is an elite body of approximately 2,100 distinguished U.S. scientists and engineers who advise the federal government on science and technology. Theoretical physicist Albert Einstein and inventors Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell were also members of the NAS, which President Abraham Lincoln established in 1863.

"It is one of the highest honors a scientist can aspire to and one of the highest forms of recognition from one's peers in the world of science," said Dr. Kastner about his election to NAS. He was elected to the biomedical science class - one of the organization's six classes - in the medical physiology and metabolism section. Current NAS members may elect up to 72 members per year based on their achievements in original research.

Dr. Kastner recounted the moment he received word of his election. Colleagues told him that he was nominated for membership, so he checked for notification early on the announcement day, but no word had arrived before he launched into his clinical duties. A colleague then arrived with news of his election, right in the middle of a patient exam.

"In a way it was the most appropriate setting possible," said Dr. Kastner, "since patients have been at the center of my work for over 20 years." On Saturday evening at the induction ceremony, Dr. Kastner added his name to the leather-bound membership registry that contains the signatures of nearly all of the current and past members of the NAS.

NAS membership puts Dr. Kastner in excellent company that includes NIH Director Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., and approximately 50 other NIH scientists. He said he takes seriously the accompanying responsibility to act as a spokesperson among scientists, to promote and defend his field and to be a mentor for younger scientists who are building their careers.

About the National Academy of Sciences

The NAS was formed to "investigate, examine, experiment, and report upon any subject of science." As science began to play an ever-increasing role in national priorities and public life, the National Academy of Sciences eventually expanded to include the National Research Council in 1916, the National Academy of Engineering in 1964, and the Institute of Medicine in 1970.

Last updated: November 22, 2013