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Two New Academicians

Two Vallee Foundation scientists are among the 213 luminaries newly elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences:

  • Vallee Visiting Professor Wade Harper, Bert and Natalie Vallee Professor of Molecular Pathology and head of the Department of Cell Biology at Harvard Medical School
  • Vallee Scholar Feng Zhang, James and Patricia Poitral Professor in Neuroscience at MIT, Core Member of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, and Investigator at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT


Harper’s work is dedicated to unraveling the  complex interactions between proteins within cells and the way in which collections of proteins assemble into signaling networks to control cell function.  He also seeks to understand the mechanisms by which cells remove damaged proteins and other cell structures to maintain cellular health.  Alterations in removal of damaged proteins and organelles underlies many types of neurodegenerative diseases.

Zhang is a molecular biologist who leverages CRISPR and other methods to study the genetics and epigenetics of human diseases, especially complex disorders, such as psychiatric and neurological diseases, that are caused by multiple genetic and environmental risk factors and which are difficult to model using conventional methods. 

Founded in 1780, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences honors exceptional scholars, leaders, artists, and innovators and engages them in sharing knowledge and addressing challenges facing the world.  “This class of 2018 is a testament to the Academy’s ability to both uphold our 238-year commitment to honor exceptional individuals and to recognize new expertise,” said Nancy C. Andrews, the chair of the Board of the Academy. “John Adams, James Bowdoin and other founders did not imagine climatology, econometrics, gene regulation, nanostructures or Netflix. They did, however, have a vision that the Academy would be dedicated to new knowledge—and these new members help us achieve that goal.”  The newly elected members will be inducted at a ceremony in Cambridge, Mass., in October.