Dr Joseph Takahashi, chairman of Neuroscience at UT Southwestern Medical Center since 2009, has been elected to the Institute of Medicine (IOM), a component of the prestigious National Academies of Sciences.
Takahashi–known for landmark discoveries in the field of circadian rhythm–was among 70 new national members and 10 foreign associates announced this week by the organization, which addresses national health issues. With his election, 19 current UT Southwestern faculty members have been inducted into the institute.
Members of the IOM help shape policies affecting public health and advise the federal government on issues involving medical care, research, and education. Selection is based on international distinction in science, clinical medicine, public health, or medical administration. Inductees are elected by incumbent members.
“Dr Takahashi is an exceptional scientist whose research has implications for the treatment of a broad range of diseases. He pioneered the use of forward genetics and positional cloning in the mouse as a tool for the discovery of genes that underlie neurobiology and behavior,” says Dr Daniel K. Podolsky, president of UT Southwestern and himself an IOM member, in a release.
“Nearly 20 years ago, Dr Takahashi identified the world’s first gene in a mammal involved in the circadian rhythms that govern virtually every aspect of life, including sleeping, waking, and eating. Last year, his laboratory’s ongoing investigations of addiction and behavior patterns successfully identified a gene in mice that controls the body’s response to cocaine,” says Podolsky, who holds the Philip O’Bryan Montgomery, Jr., MD, Distinguished Presidential Chair in Academic Administration and the Doris and Bryan Wildenthal Distinguished Chair in Medical Science.
Takahashi, who also is an investigator in the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at UT Southwestern and holder of the Loyd B. Sands Distinguished Chair in Neuroscience, says, “I am thrilled to have been elected to the Institute of Medicine. As a basic scientist, it is indeed an honor to be recognized by the medical research profession. I trust that this recognition telegraphs the importance of circadian biology to medicine. I am also grateful to my colleagues here at UT Southwestern, where everyone pulls together to support science at the highest level.”
In 2010, Dr. Takahashi and collaborator Dr Joseph T. Bass at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine reported in Nature that disruptions in the Clock and Bmal1 genes in mice can alter the release of insulin by the pancreas, resulting in diabetes.
In 2012, Takahashi and his colleagues solved the 3-D atomic structure of the CLOCK-BMAL1 protein complex, which he described as “the batteries of the biological clock.” That same year, his laboratory reported that the circadian cycle governs the way the enzyme RNA polymerase II transcribes genetic information to make the proteins used in biological functions and provided a map of the ebb and flow of many of those proteins over the course of the day. Both of those studies were published in the journal Science.
Takahashi was inducted into the National Academy of Sciences in 2003 and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2000 while at Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill, where he was the Walter and Mary Elizabeth Glass Professor in the Life Sciences in the Department of Neurobiology, as well as director of the Center for Functional Genomics.
Takahashi received a degree in biology from Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania in 1974 and a PhD in neuroscience from the University of Oregon, Eugene, in 1981. For postdoctoral training, he was a pharmacology research associate at the National Institute of Mental Health from 1981 to 1983.
The author of more than 250 scientific publications and the recipient of many awards, including the Outstanding Scientific Achievement Award from the Sleep Research Society (2012) and Thomson Reuters Highly Cited Researcher in Biology and Biochemistry (2014), Takahashi also has served on a number of advisory committees for the National Institutes of Health and on the editorial board of several academic journals.
Current IOM members at UT Southwestern and the year of their induction are: Dr Daniel K. Podolsky (2009), Dr Bruce Beutler (2008), Dr Thomas Südhof (2007), Dr Luis Parada (2007), Dr Ellen Vitetta (2006), Dr Steven McKnight (2005), Dr Helen Hobbs (2004), Dr Eric Olson (2001), Dr Norman Gant (2001), Dr Kern Wildenthal (1999), Dr Carol Tamminga (1998), Dr Scott Grundy (1995), Dr Jean Wilson (1994), Dr Daniel Foster (1989), Dr Alfred Gilman (1989), Dr Michael Brown (1987), Dr Joseph Goldstein (1987), and Dr Donald Seldin (1974).