University of Pittsburgh
April 20, 2004

Two Pitt Faculty Named Members of the National Academy of Sciences and Pitt Alumnus Named Foreign Associate

The three join an elite group of scholars recognized for their original research
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PITTSBURGH—University of Pittsburgh faculty members Susan G. Amara—Thomas Detre Professor, chair of the Department of Neurobiology in the School of Medicine, and codirector of the Center for Neuroscience—and Robert D. Drennan, a professor in the Department of Anthropology in the School of Arts & Sciences, were named yesterday members of The National Academy of Sciences for their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research.

Amara and Drennan are two of only 72 new academy active members nationwide. John T. Yates Jr., R.K. Mellon Professor of Chemistry and Physics in the Department of Chemistry and director of Pitt's Surface Science Center, and Mary Edmonds, professor emerita in the Department of Biological Sciences, both previously elected to the academy, also are active members.

"Election to the National Academy of Sciences is one of the highest forms of recognition that can be earned by any faculty member," said Pitt Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg. "Drs. Amara and Drennan, both respected as leaders in their fields, are very worthy of this honor. The fact that two of the 72 outstanding academics elected yesterday came from the Pitt faculty is a source of special pride for our University community. We also are pleased that Dr. Tsui, a Pitt graduate and the leader of one of Asia's finest universities, was selected as a foreign associate of the academy."

Lap-Chee Tsui, vice chancellor of the University of Hong Kong who earned the Ph.D. degree in biological sciences at Pitt in 1979, was named a Foreign Associate of the academy; he was one of 18 named yesterday.

Yesterday's election was held during the academy's 141st annual meeting; election to membership is considered to be one of the highest honors that can be accorded a U.S. scientist or engineer. Foreign associates are nonvoting members of the academy with citizenship outside the United States.

"Yesterday's election is a tribute to the outstanding work done by Drs. Amara and Drennan and also provides strong evidence of the high respect enjoyed by members of Pitt faculty within the broader academic community," observed Pitt Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor James V. Maher.

"We are pleased that the academy has chosen to honor Dr. Amara for her important work—which, while advancing our understandings of fundamental human biology, also holds great promise for clinical advances," commented Pitt Senior Vice Chancellor for the Health Sciences and Dean of the School of Medicine Arthur S. Levine.

Amara concentrates her research on the molecular and cellular biology of neurotransmitter transporters, especially those that target such addictive drugs as cocaine and amphetamines and therapeutic drugs as antidepressants.

Amara came to the University in 2003 from Oregon Health Sciences University, Portland, where she was a senior scientist at the Vollum Institute and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. She is a member of the Society for Neuroscience, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives, among other professional associations. In addition, she is on the editorial boards of Reviews in Physiology, Biochemistry and Pharmacology, and the Annual Review of Pharmacology and Toxicology.

Amara received the Bachelor of Science degree in biological sciences from Stanford University and the Ph.D. degree in physiology and pharmacology from the University of California, San Diego.

At Pitt since 1977, Drennan is an archaeologist whose interests focus on the origins and development of complex societies—especially chiefdoms, regional settlement pattern studies, and household archaeology. His principal methodological specialty is quantitative data analysis and computer applications. He does fieldwork in Mesoamerica, northern South America, and China.

Drennan received the A. B. degree in art and archaeology from Princeton University in 1969 and the Master of Arts and Ph.D. degrees in anthropology from the University of Michigan in 1970 and 1975, respectively.

Prior to joining the University, Drennan was curator at the R. S. Peabody Foundation for Archaeology in Andover, Mass. He has also held adjunct appointments in the anthropology section of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh; in the anthropology department at the University of the Andes in Bogotá, Colombia; at the University of Michigan Museum of Anthropology; and in the anthropology department at the National University of Colombia in Bogotá. He served as chair of Pitt's anthropology department from 1996 to 1999 and from 2000 to 2003.

Tsui received international acclaim in 1989 when he identified the defective gene that causes cystic fibrosis. His research on cystic fibrosis continues, and he also is active in other genetic and disease gene analysis.

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, which calls on the Academy to act as an official adviser to the federal government, upon request, in any matter of science or technology.

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