Two Pitt Health Sciences researchers are 2023 AAAS fellows


Two University of Pittsburgh School of Health Sciences faculty members elected 2023 Fellow Member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world's largest scientific society.

Deborah Polkvisiting associate professor of dental public health at the School of Dentistry, and Bennett Van HoutenRichard M. Cyert, professor of molecular oncology and professor of pharmacology and chemical biology in the School of Medicine, is one of 502 scientists, engineers and innovators recognized by AAAS for outstanding achievements in science and society.

Being elected as an AAAS Fellow is a lifetime honor, a tradition that dates back to 1874. Past distinguished recipients include WEB DuBois, Ellen Ochoa, Steven Chu, Grace Hopper, Alan Alda, Mae Jemison and Ayanna Howard.Polk and Van Houten Since the award’s inception, a total of 214 researchers at the University of Pittsburgh have received this honor..

“Pittsburgh’s new AAAS Fellows are a testament to the breadth of research excellence at the University of Pittsburgh in the health sciences,” said Anantha Shekhar, senior vice chancellor for health sciences and dean of the John and Gertrude Petersen School of Medicine. . “This excellence is demonstrated every day in our laboratories and classrooms. Congratulations to Dr. Polk and Van Houten were honored.

Deborah Polk

The American Association for the Advancement of Science noted that Polk “has made outstanding contributions to the fields of clinical psychology and oral health science, particularly in advancing our understanding of the behavioral factors that drive improved oral health among patients and practitioners.” Polk and Members of her lab are also faculty in the Department of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences in the School of Public Health Evaluate the effectiveness of interventions designed to help providers follow guidelines. Although there is no statutory requirement for dentists to follow evidence-based clinical practice guidelines, the guidelines can be considered to reflect best practice.Nonetheless, research shows providers, including Dentists, pick and choose which guidelines to implement.

Bennett Van Houten

Van Houten was awarded the title of Fellow “for his outstanding contributions to the field of DNA damage and repair, in particular the development of several new methods to understand the orchestration of DNA repair processes.” Van Houten and his laboratory study the formation and repair of DNA damage in nuclear and mitochondrial genomes, with a particular focus on the structure and function of proteins that mediate nucleotide excision repair and the role of oxidative stress in human disease.

— Maureen Passmore



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