Six professors and scholars affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania have been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. They are Yale Goldman, Katalin Karikó and Drew Weissman from the Perelman School of Medicine; Nicholas Sambanis of the School of Arts and Sciences; Diana Slaughter Kotzin of the Graduate School of Education; and Dorothy E. Roberts, joint appointments at Penn Carey Law School and the School of Arts and Sciences.
They are among more than 260 new Fellows honored in 2022, recognized for their “achievements and leadership in academia, the arts, industry, public policy and research”.
Yale Goldman is a professor of physiology at the Perelman School of Medicine, with a secondary appointment at the School of Engineering and Applied Science. A native of Philadelphia, he has been an integral part of Penn for decades, arriving on campus in the early 1970s as a doctoral student and joining the faculty in 1980. From 1988 to 2010, he was director of the Pennsylvania Muscle Institute at Penn.
Dr. Goldman’s research aims to better understand the structural changes undergone by the biological machinery of the body. He and his lab have developed new biophysical techniques to observe this, ranging from nanoscale tracking of fluorescent molecules to infrared optical traps, known as laser tweezers. The goal is to make discoveries that, in the long term, lead to better outcomes for people with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, cystic fibrosis and cardiac myopathies.
A Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences, Dr. Goldman has also served as President of the Biophysical Society and as a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Physiology and the Biophysical Journal.
Katalin Karikó is Senior Vice President of BioNTech and Adjunct Professor of Neurosurgery at Perelman School of Medicine. She joined the University of Pennsylvania in 1989 and began collaborating with fellow inductee Drew Weissman in 1997. Together they invented the modified mRNA technology used in vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna to prevent infection to COVID-19.
For decades, Dr. Karikó’s research as a biochemist has focused on RNA-mediated mechanisms, with the goal of developing in vitro transcribed mRNAs for protein therapy. She studied RNA-mediated immune activation and co-discovered with Dr. Weissman that nucleoside modifications suppress RNA immunogenicity. This led to the development of the two most effective vaccines against COVID-19.
Dr. Karikó has received the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, the Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award, the Princess of Asturias Award and the Vilcek Prize for Excellence in Biotechnology. She continues to work on new therapeutic applications of mRNA therapy.
Diana Slaughter Kotzin, professor emeritus at the Graduate School of Education, was the first Constance E. Clayton Professor of Urban Education from 1998 to 2011. She received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in human development and doctorates in human development and psychology. clinic at the University of Chicago.
Her research interests include culture, primary education, and home-school relationships facilitating academic success in school.
Prior to joining Penn, she taught at the School of Education and Social Policy at Northwestern University for 20 years. Previously, she served on the faculties of Howard University, Yale University, and the University of Chicago. Among her many awards and accolades, in 2019 the American Psychological Association named her a “pioneering woman of color among the first to enter the ranks of psychology.”
Dorothy E. Roberts is the George A. Weiss Professor of Law and Sociology, the Raymond Pace & Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander Professor of Civil Rights, and Professor of African Studies. She is also the founding director of the Program on Race, Science and Society (PRSS). With appointments at Carey Law School and the School of Arts and Sciences, Dr. Roberts works at the intersection of law, social justice, science and health, focusing on pressing issues of justice in the areas of policing, family regulation, science, medicine and bioethics.
His major books include Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Are Recreating Race in the 21st Century (New Press, 2011); Broken Ties: The Color of Child Protection (Basic Books, 2002), and Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Sense of Freedom (Pantheon, 1997). His latest book, Torn: How the Child Welfare System Is Destroying Black Families and How Abolition Can Build a Safer World (Basic Books), was published in April. Dr. Roberts is the author of over 100 scholarly articles and book chapters, as well as co-editor of six books on topics including constitutional law and women and the law.
Nicholas Sambanis is Presidential Professor Emeritus of Political Science and Director of the Penn Identity & Conflict Lab (PIC Lab). He writes about conflict processes with an emphasis on civil wars and other forms of intergroup conflict.
The lab works on a wide range of topics related to intergroup conflict around the world, including the effects of external intervention on peacebuilding after ethnic war, analysis of the violent escalation of separatist movements, conflicts between native and immigrant populations, and strategies to reduce prejudice and discrimination against minority groups. It focuses on the connection between identity politics and conflict processes, drawing on social psychology, behavioral economics and comparative politics and international relations literature in political science.
Drew Weissman is the Roberts Family Professor of Vaccine Research at the Perelman School of Medicine and an internationally renowned scientist whose basic research with collaborating scientist Katalin Karikó led to mRNA vaccines and a highly effective method to curb the spread of COVID-19.
For decades, Dr. Weissman studied immunology and the ways mRNA could trigger protective immune responses, first focusing on HIV at the National Institutes of Health and later at Penn, where he focused on the development of mRNA vaccines for other diseases and conditions. One of the goals is to create a pan-coronavirus vaccine, which could prevent all types of coronavirus, including COVID-19. He has also worked with researchers around the world to help them develop mRNA COVID vaccines and increase access to these vaccines in remote and underfunded areas.
Dr. Weissman has received numerous awards, including the Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award, the Princess of Asturias Award, the Albany Medical Center Prize in Medicine and Biomedical Research, and the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences.