Duke Professors Elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

By Steve Hartsoe

Durham, N.C. (April 2008) —Two Duke University professors have been elected members of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, an honorary society and independent policy research center whose members have included George Washington and Albert Einstein, the academy announced Monday.

The newest academy members include Huntington F. Willard, Nanaline H. Duke Professor of Genome Sciences and director of the Duke Institute for Genome Sciences & Policy (IGSP); and James W. Vaupel, research professor at Duke’s Sanford Institute of Public Policy and director of the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Rostock, Germany. They are among 212 scholars, scientists, artists, civic, corporate and philanthropic leaders from 20 states and 15 countries elected to this year’s class.

Willard is the founding director of the IGSP, which now includes over 60 faculty members and over 300 students and staff from across the Duke campus. He is the author or co-author of more than 300 scientific publications, including the textbook Genetics in Medicine, a forthcoming book The Genome Revolution (with the IGSP’s Misha Angrist) and a forthcoming two-volume setGenomic and Personalized Medicine (with Geoff Ginsburg, director of the IGSP Center for Genomic Medicine). His research interests include genome sciences and their broad implications for medicine and society, human genome structure and function, X chromosome inactivation and epigenetic mechanisms of gene silencing.

Vaupel has worked on the development of mathematical demography, which deals with various factors on the aging of different organisms. He is considered a pioneer for his introduction and application of “frailty models” to the field of population science, which bring new understanding to an individual’s or a group’s risk of death with age. Vaupel also founded the Population Research Institute at Duke, where he has focused on the new field of evolutionary demography.
The new class will be inducted at a ceremony Oct. 11 at the academy’s headquarters in Cambridge, Mass.

“The Academy honors excellence by electing to membership remarkable men and women who have made preeminent contributions to their fields, and to the world,” said Emilio Bizzi, academy president. “We are pleased to welcome into the academy these new members to help advance our founders’ goal of ‘cherishing knowledge and shaping the future.'”
The academy was founded by John Adams, James Bowdoin, John Hancock and other scholar-patriots. Members have included George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Daniel Webster, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Albert Einstein and Winston Churchill.