Baylor researchers elected 2021 AAAS Fellows

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world’s largest general scientific society, has elected two Baylor College of Medicine researchers to its newest class of AAAS Fellows. Dr. Christophe Herman, professor of molecular and human genetics and molecular virology and microbiology, and Dr. Yong Li, professor of medicine in epidemiology and population science, are among 564 new Fellows.

Herman was awarded for distinguished contributions in the field of bacterial genetics, physiology and biochemistry, particularly for showing that transient errors in transcription can cause permanent and heritable phenotypic change in a clonal cell population. Herman received his Ph.D. from the Université Libre de Bruxelles. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Human Frontier Fellow at the University of California San Francisco, prior to moving to Baylor in 2004. His early work on transcription errors was supported by an Human Frontier Science Program award. More recently, his lab made the groundbreaking discovery that transcription fidelity comes at the expense of DNA repair. He has received the Michael E. DeBakey Excellence in Research Award from Baylor and a NIH Director’s Pioneer Award. He also is a member of the Dan L Duncan Cancer Center at Baylor.

Li was awarded for developing novel strategies for understanding mechanistic processes influencing gene expression, including effects from microRNA, exposure to environmental toxicants and their interactive effects with genetic factors on cancer development. Li is a CPRIT Scholar with interests in environmental carcinogenesis, genetic polymorphism, artificial intelligence and tumor antigens. His recent work illuminates the intersection between environmental exposure and genetic variants on tissue-specific cancer development. Previously, Li held faculty positions at the University of Louisville and Cleveland Clinic. Li received a Ph.D. from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and a B.Sc. from Lanzhou University, and he conducted postdoctoral research at Yale University. He also is a member of the Dan L Duncan Cancer Center at Baylor.

Members of the AAAS nominate each Fellow while the organization’s council, including its president, makes the final vote. The 2021 class of AAAS Fellows includes scientists, engineers and innovators spanning 24 scientific disciplines who are being recognized for their scientifically and socially distinguished achievements. An in-person gathering to honor the new Fellows will be held later this year.

Past Baylor AAAS Fellows include Drs. C. Thomas Caskey (1990), Bert O’Malley (1995), James Lupski (1996), Mary K. Estes (1999), Susan Rosenberg (2010), Margaret “Peggy” Goodell (2014), Brendan Lee (2014), Theodore Wensel (2014), David Nelson (2014), Michael A. Grusak (2015), Jeffrey Rosen (2015), Philip J. Hastings (2017), Jeffrey L. Noebels (2017), Nancy Moreno (2018), Meng Wang (2019) and Olivier Lichtarge (2019).

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