URMC Biochemistry Professor Named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Dec. 2, 2012
Eric M. Phizicky, Ph.D.

Eric M. Phizicky, Ph.D., dean’s professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of Rochester Medical Center, was named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). AAAS is the world’s largest general scientific society and publisher of the journal Science.

This year 702 members were awarded this honor by AAAS because of their scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications. Phizicky, a member of the University’s Center for RNA Biology, was elected a Fellow "for major contributions to the basic knowledge of tRNA (transfer RNA) processing and turnover and for the development and widespread distribution of powerful genome-wide technologies.”

“We were extremely happy to hear that Eric was receiving this much-deserved honor. His passion for science is infectious and matched only by his inquisitive nature and skill as a scientist,” said Jeffrey J. Hayes, Ph.D., professor and acting chairman of the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the Medical Center. “Aside from his remarkable accomplishments in research, Eric is an outstanding teacher and colleague.”

Phizicky, who came to the Medical Center in 1987, has spent his career working to understand how tRNA is made and how it does its job in the cell, which is to help with the translation of genes into proteins. His lab also focuses on the design, construction and implementation of genomic methods to analyze protein structure and function, work that’s conducted in collaboration with Elizabeth Grayhack, Ph.D., associate professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics.

“Besides contributing seminal findings to the genetics and molecular biology of tRNA processing that are recognized internationally, Eric is exemplary in his continuous service to peer review and meeting organization, and he stands out as a highly respected and remarkably enthusiastic educator in our graduate school here at the University of Rochester,” said Lynne E. Maquat, Ph.D., professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Director of the Center for RNA Biology and a member of the National Academy of Sciences. 

Election as a AAAS Fellow is an honor bestowed upon AAAS members by their peers. This year’s AAAS Fellows were formally announced in the AAAS News & Notes section of the journal Science. New Fellows will be presented with an official certificate during the 2013 AAAS Annual Meeting in Boston in February.

The tradition of AAAS Fellows began in 1874. Currently, members can be considered for the rank of Fellow if nominated by the steering groups of the Association’s 24 sections, or by any three Fellows who are current AAAS members or by the AAAS chief executive officer.

“I’m extremely honored to receive this distinction” said Phizicky, whose work is mainly funded by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences at the National Institutes of Health and has been published in journals such as Science, Genes & Development and Molecular Cell. “It is no accident that many scientists don’t want to retire. I love the thrill of finding new things and solving problems in biology – it is really a lot of fun.”