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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University May 1, 2006 | Vol. 35 No. 32
Two Hopkins Faculty Members Elected to American Academy

Two Johns Hopkins University faculty members have been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, part of a class of 175 new academy fellows that also includes two former U.S. presidents, the chief justice of the United States and director Martin Scorsese, the academy announced last week.

Announcement of the election of Johns Hopkins biochemist Cecile M. Pickart to the academy comes just weeks after her death April 5 at age 51. The professor of biochemistry and molecular biology in the Bloomberg School of Public Health had suffered from kidney cancer.

Also honored by the academy was Jack Greene, the Andrew W. Mellon Professor of the Humanities emeritus in the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences and an expert on early American history.

The election of the two, had Pickart lived, would have brought to 39 the total of active Johns Hopkins members of the academy, which, according to its president, Patricia Meyer Spacks, recognizes "individuals who have made pre-eminent contributions to their disciplines and to society at large."

The American Academy of Arts and Sciences was founded in 1780 by John Adams, James Bowdoin, John Hancock and other scholar-patriots. Its fellows have included intellectuals and influential leaders from each generation, including George Washington and Benjamin Franklin in the 18th century, Daniel Webster and Ralph Waldo Emerson in the 19th, and Albert Einstein and Winston Churchill in the 20th. The current membership includes more than 170 Nobel laureates and 50 Pulitzer Prize winners.

Other fellows elected this year include former Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton; Chief Justice John Roberts; the chairman and vice chairman of the 9/11 commission, former Gov. Thomas Kean, R-N.J., and former Rep. Lee Hamilton, D-Ind.; director Martin Scorsese; and conductor Michael Tilson Thomas. In addition to the 175 new fellows, 20 new foreign honorary members were elected.

Pickart focused her research on the role of ubiquitin, an essential protein involved in critical cellular processes, including the repair of DNA. Ubiquitin searches the body for damaged or misshapen proteins and signals them for destruction. The goal in understanding how ubiquitin works is to assist in the development of drugs for prevention or treatment of diseases including cancer, Parkinson's, Huntington's and Alzheimer's.

Greene, an expert on early American history, has published 16 books, including Pursuits of Happiness (1988), which challenged the notion that American culture was largely a derivative of New England culture; Peripheries and Center (1986), which examined the foundations of governance in British America; and The Intellectual Construction of America (1993), which investigated the roots of the idea of America as an exceptional place.

In 2000, he was honored by a three-day scholarly conference of former students from his more than 35 years at Johns Hopkins.

"During his years as a professor of early American history at Hopkins, Jack Greene trained more than 75 graduate students," said Gabrielle Spiegel, chair of the History Department and acting dean of faculty in the Krieger School. "Many of those students went on to become prominent historians themselves. His influence is felt, therefore, in every corner of the country and throughout its research universities," Spiegel said.


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