Ludwig Stanford Professor Howard Chang was elected to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAAS) in April. Howard’s lab has developed powerful new technologies to explore how the large expanses of the genome that encode no proteins—98% of the whole—control the expression of the remaining 2%. Applying these technologies, Howard and his colleagues have made transformative discoveries on how regulatory DNA sequences in these regions influence biological phenomena ranging from embryonic development to aging to the genesis of cancers. Howard has also explored how cells of the body establish and maintain their positional identity—work that led to his lab’s discovery of a sprawling family of genes encoding long noncoding RNAs that regulate gene activity and play critical roles in an array of biological processes, including cancer. Established in 1780, the AAAS honors excellence and seeks “to cultivate every art and science which may tend to advance the interest, honor, dignity, and happiness of a free, independent, and virtuous people.” The NAS was established in 1863 and charged with providing independent, objective advice to the nation on matters related to science and technology. Election to the NAS is considered one of the highest honors a scientist can receive.
This article appeared in the August 2020 issue of Ludwig Link. Click here to download a PDF (2 MB).