School of Medicine scientist Joseph Heitman Elected to the National Academy of Sciences

Tuesday, April 27, 2021
Joseph Heitman, MD, PhD

Two Duke faculty members have been elected as members of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (NAS), one of the highest honors in the profession.

Joseph Heitman, MD, PhD, the James B. Duke Professor and Chair of the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology in the Duke University School of Medicine, and Rachel Kranton, PhD, the James B. Duke Distinguished Professor of Economics and Dean of Social Sciences in the Trinity College of Arts & Sciences, join 37 other Duke faculty members previously elected to the institution.

They are among 120 new members elected in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research. Those elected this year bring the total number of active members of the NAS to 2,461.

Heitman studies model and pathogenic fungi to address unsolved problems in biology and medicine. His pioneering research using the model budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae led to the discovery of FKBP12 and TOR as the targets of rapamycin, a drug now widely used in organ transplantation, cancer chemotherapy, and interventional cardiology.

Heitman’s research studying the pathogenic fungus Cryptococcus led to the discovery of a previously unknown form of sexual reproduction in the fungus known as unisexual reproduction. He has a long-standing interest in fungal genetics and evolution.

A Burroughs-Wellcome Scholar and HHMI investigator, Heitman is a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology, the American Society for Clinical Investigation, the Association of American Physicians, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He joined Duke in 1992 and became chair of the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology in 2009.

Read the complete story on Duke Today.