News Release

Four UTSW faculty elected to prestigious National Academy of Sciences

Grant and Award Announcement

UT Southwestern Medical Center


image: The National Academy of Sciences today elected four UT Southwestern Medical Center scientists in the fields of biophysics, cell biology, molecular biology, and stem cell biology into its membership, one of the highest honors for American scientists. view more 

Credit: UTSW

DALLAS – April 29, 2020 – The National Academy of Sciences today elected four UT Southwestern Medical Center scientists in the fields of biophysics, cell biology, molecular biology, and stem cell biology into its membership, one of the highest honors for American scientists.

Sean Morrison, Ph.D., Kim Orth, Ph.D., Michael Rosen, Ph.D., and Sandra Schmid, Ph.D., were selected by their peers in recognition of distinguished and continuing achievements in original research. With their elections, UT Southwestern has 25 members of the National Academy of Sciences among its faculty, more than any other institution in Texas.

“Election to the prestigious National Academy of Sciences recognizes the pioneering contributions these scientists have made to advance our understanding of basic cellular function and molecular processes with application to addressing a broad spectrum of unmet medical needs including cancer and treatments for bacterial infections,” said Daniel K. Podolsky, M.D., President of UT Southwestern Medical Center. “Their election enriches the National Academy of Sciences’ efforts to provide data and advice on the nation’s most critical issues in science, health, and medicine."

The UT Southwestern scientists, including three Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigators, are among 120 U.S. and 26 nonvoting foreign members elected this year. New members will be formally inducted at next year’s event.

“This important recognition by their peers reflects the breadth and quality of research underway at UT Southwestern, and serves as inspiration for new generations of trainees and scientists to carry on the tradition of discovery that is the hallmark of distinguished academic medical centers,” said W. P. Andrew Lee, M.D., Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, Provost and Dean of UT Southwestern Medical School.

The UT Southwestern scientists elected this year are:

Sean Morrison, Director of the Children’s Medical Center Research Institute (CRI) at UT Southwestern and Professor of Pediatrics

Morrison, who joined UT Southwestern in 2011 to direct the Children’s Medical Center Research Institute at UT Southwestern, has contributed trailblazing discoveries in the fields of stem cell biology and cancer. The Morrison laboratory studies the mechanisms that maintain stem cell function in adult tissues and the ways in which cancer cells hijack these mechanisms to enable the formation of tumors. His achievements include pioneering new methods to purify stem cells from multiple tissues and discovering molecular mechanisms that allow stem cells to persist throughout life and regenerate tissues after injury.

A Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Investigator, he was elected to the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) in 2018. He majored in biology and chemistry at Dalhousie University in Canada, received his doctorate in immunology from Stanford University, and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in neurobiology at Caltech. Before coming to UT Southwestern, he was a professor at the University of Michigan, where he directed its Center for Stem Cell Biology. He is a Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) Scholar in Cancer Research and member of the Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Kim Orth, Professor of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry

Orth’s discoveries have advanced the understanding of the basic biochemical mechanisms underlying many bacterial infections by identifying new ways that invading bacteria hijack and deregulate a cell’s signaling systems. The Orth lab studies how pathogens manipulate host cells for their own benefit, providing insights into bacteria that cause foodborne illnesses.

Also an HHMI Investigator, Orth earned her undergraduate degree at Texas A&M University. She received her Ph.D. in biochemistry and molecular biology from UT Southwestern, and joined the University’s faculty as an endowed scholar in 2001. She has received many honors, including a Burroughs Wellcome Investigator in Pathogenesis of Infectious Disease in 2006, the Norman Hackerman Award in Chemical Research from The Welch Foundation in 2010, the Edith and Peter O’Donnell Award in 2011 from The Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas, the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) Young Investigator Award in 2012 and the ASBMB Merck Award in 2018.

Mike Rosen, Chair of Biophysics and Professor in the Cecil H. and Ida Green Comprehensive Center for Molecular, Computational, and Systems Biology

Rosen investigates how cells compartmentalize processes without the use of membranes. These phase-separated structures are involved in many cellular mechanisms in health and disease, and represent a fundamental process by which proteins function within the cell. His lab uses biophysical techniques to understand the formation, regulation, and functions of biomolecular condensates – cellular compartments that arise much like the way oil and water droplets separate in a flask.

Rosen, who joined UTSW in 2001, received undergraduate degrees in chemistry and chemical engineering from the University of Michigan, then spent a year as a Winston Churchill Foundation Scholar at the University of Cambridge before earning his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1993. In addition to being an HHMI Investigator, his many honors include receiving an Edith and Peter O’Donnell Award from The Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas in 2006, becoming the University’s first Allen Distinguished Investigator in 2018, and winning the 2020 Wiley Prize in Biomedical Sciences.

Sandra Schmid, Professor and Chair of Cell Biology

Schmid is internationally recognized for her research on endocytosis – how cells take in nutrients and other molecules. She studies the molecular mechanisms and regulation underlying clathrin-mediated endocytosis, the major pathway for uptake into the cell. A pioneer in defining the GTPase dynamin as a catalyst of membrane fission, Dr. Schmid recently discovered isoform-specific functions of dynamin that are activated in cancer cells.

Schmid, who joined UT Southwestern in 2012, majored in cell biology at the University of British Columbia and received her doctorate in biochemistry from Stanford University. After a postdoctoral fellowship at Yale University, she moved to The Scripps Research Institute, serving as Chair of the Department of Cell Biology before joining UT Southwestern in 2012. She is a former President of the American Society for Cell Biology and was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2015. Her numerous honors include the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology’s William C. Rose Award and the Biophysical Society’s Sir Bernard Katz Award. In May, she will join the Chan-Zuckerberg Biohub in San Francisco as its inaugural Chief Scientific Officer.

Other UT Southwestern faculty who are members of the NAS and the years they were elected are: Michael Brown, M.D., 1980; Joseph Goldstein, M.D., 1980; Jean Wilson, M.D., 1983; Jonathan Uhr, M.D., 1984; Roger Unger, M.D., 1986; Steven McKnight, Ph.D., 1992; Ellen Vitetta, Ph.D., 1994; Johann Deisenhofer, Ph.D., 1997; Eric Olson, Ph.D., 2000; Joseph Takahashi, Ph.D., 2003; Masashi Yanagisawa, M.D., Ph.D., 2003; Melanie Cobb, Ph.D., 2006; David Russell, Ph.D., 2006; Helen Hobbs, M.D., 2007; Bruce Beutler, M.D., 2008; David Mangelsdorf, Ph.D., 2008; Luis Parada, Ph.D., 2011; Beth Levine, M.D., 2013; Zhijian “James” Chen, Ph.D., 2014; Lora Hooper, Ph.D., and Steven Kliewer, Ph.D., both in 2015.

Lee holds the Atticus James Gill, M.D. Chair in Medical Science.

Morrison holds the Kathryne and Gene Bishop Distinguished Chair in Pediatric Research at Children's Research Institute (CRI) at UT Southwestern and the Mary McDermott Cook Chair in Pediatric Genetics.

Orth holds the Earl A. Forsythe Chair in Biomedical Science and is a W.W. Caruth, Jr. Scholar in Biomedical Research.

Podolsky holds the Philip O’Bryan Montgomery, Jr., M.D. Distinguished Presidential Chair in Academic Administration, and the Doris and Bryan Wildenthal Distinguished Chair in Medical Science.

Rosen holds the Mar Nell and F. Andrew Bell Distinguished Chair in Biochemistry.

Schmid holds the Cecil H. Green Distinguished Chair in Cellular and Molecular Biology.

About CRI

Children’s Medical Center Research Institute at UT Southwestern is a joint venture of UT Southwestern Medical Center and Children’s Medical Center Dallas, the flagship hospital of Children’s Health. CRI’s mission is to perform transformative biomedical research to better understand the biological basis of disease. Located in Dallas, Texas, CRI is home to interdisciplinary groups of scientists and physicians pursuing research at the interface of regenerative medicine, cancer biology, and metabolism. For more information, visit: To support CRI, visit:

About UT Southwestern Medical Center

UT Southwestern, one of the premier academic medical centers in the nation, integrates pioneering biomedical research with exceptional clinical care and education. The institution’s faculty has received six Nobel Prizes, and includes 25 members of the National Academy of Sciences, 16 members of the National Academy of Medicine, and 14 Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigators. The full-time faculty of more than 2,500 is responsible for groundbreaking medical advances and is committed to translating science-driven research quickly to new clinical treatments. UT Southwestern physicians provide care in about 80 specialties to more than 105,000 hospitalized patients, nearly 370,000 emergency room cases, and oversee approximately 3 million outpatient visits a year.


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