by Leigh MacMillan
Brigid L. M. Hogan, Ph.D. has been named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
Hogan, Hortense B. Ingram Professor of Molecular Oncology, professor of cell biology, and investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, is being honored for her contributions to the molecular understanding of mammalian development. Hogan is among 251 new AAAS Fellows selected because their efforts toward advancing science or its applications are scientifically or socially distinguished. They will be recognized at the association's annual meeting in February.
"I am very honored to be named a Fellow of the AAAS," Hogan said. "I particularly admire the association's tremendous effort to make science accessible and exciting to young people, educators and the general public. They not only promote science for scientists, but also work very hard to explain the benefits of research to politicians and policy makers."
In her research, Hogan seeks to understand how genes coordinate the growth and development of specific organs and tissues. She likens organ development to origami, the art of Japanese paper folding. An organ starts out as a small sheet of cells that grows and folds in intricate ways as the cells respond to "specializing" signals from each other. Defining these cellular signals and responses will pave the way toward methods for stimulating the repair of damaged tissues in vivo and for generating replacement tissues from stem cells in vitro.
"Understanding the basic principles of how organs grow and develop is fundamental to understanding how they fail and how they can be repaired," Hogan said. "Strange as it may have seemed even 10 years ago, I think every clinical department at Vanderbilt has benefited from the discoveries that have been made about the development of worms, flies, frogs, fish and mice."
Hogan earned her Ph.D. degree from Cambridge University in England and carried out postdoctoral training at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Before joining the Vanderbilt faculty in 1988, Hogan was head of the Laboratory of Molecular Embryology -- first at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund and then at the National Institute of Medical Research in London. She is a member of the European Molecular Biology Organization and was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences in 1996. Hogan has actively participated in shaping the national guidelines for human embryonic stem cell research, and she was the first recipient of the Medical Center's Charles R. Park Faculty Research Award "for basic research findings revealing insights into physiology and pathophysiology."
Hogan is the fourth Vanderbilt University Medical Center scientist elected to the rank of AAAS Fellow. The other three are Dr. John H. Exton, professor of molecular physiology and biophysics and pharmacology and investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute; F. Peter Guengerich, Ph.D., professor of Biochemistry and director of the Center in Molecular Toxicology; and Dr. John A. Oates, Thomas F. Frist Professor of Medicine and Pharmacology and director of the Center for Pharmacology and Drug Toxicology.
The AAAS, founded in 1848, is the world's largest federation of scientists. With more than 143,000 individual members and 276 affiliated societies, the association works to advance science for human well- being through its projects, programs and publications. The tradition of AAAS Fellows distinction began in 1874.