May 4, 2001

Hogan, Kaas elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

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Brigid L. M. Hogan

Vanderbilt professor Brigid L. M. Hogan has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Hogan, Hortense B. Ingram Professor of Molecular Oncology, professor of Cell Biology and Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, was cited as a “pioneer in identifying the functions of the Forkhead/Winged helix (Fox) and BMP gene families in the developing mouse embryo and as a highly respected national spokesperson on issues concerning embryo manipulation and cloning.”

Jon Kaas, Centennial Professor of Psychology, was also elected to the society. Kaas was cited for research “of singular importance in revealing the organization and function of sensory and motor systems of the brain systems fundamental to perception, cognition, and behavior.”

In her research, Hogan seeks to understand how genes coordinate the growth and development of specific organs and tissues. She likens organ development to origami, the art of Japanese paper folding. An organ starts out as a small sheet of cells that grows and folds in intricate ways as the cells respond to “specializing” signals from each other.

Defining these cellular signals and responses will pave the way toward methods for stimulating the repair of damaged tissues in vivo and for generating replacement tissues from stem cells in vitro.

Hogan earned her Ph.D. degree from Cambridge University in England and carried out postdoctoral training at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Before joining the Vanderbilt faculty in 1988, Hogan was head of the Laboratory of Molecular Embryology – first at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund and then at the National Institute of Medical Research in London.

She is a member of the European Molecular Biology Organization and was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences in 1996. Hogan has actively participated in shaping the national guidelines for human embryonic stem cell research, and she was the first recipient of the Medical Center’s Charles R. Park Faculty Research Award “for basic research findings revealing insights into physiology and pathophysiology.”

Kaas, who came to Vanderbilt in 1972 from the University of Wisconsin, studies the basic organization of the primate and human brain. His work has provided important new insights into how the brain processes sensory input from the eyes, ears and skin and controls the motion of arms, legs and other muscle systems. He has also made fundamental contributions to the scientific understanding of how the brain develops and how mature brains respond to injuries.

His most extensive efforts have been to determine how the visual cortex – the portion of the brain that processes information from the eyes – is subdivided into areas and modules in monkeys, and how these subdivisions are interconnected with each other and other parts of the brain to form a complete processing network. His major goal is to develop a model of how the human brain is wired for processing visual information.

Last year, Kaas’ contributions were recognized by his election to the National Academy of Sciences. He has also received the American Psychological Association’s Distinguished Scientist Award, Vanderbilt’s Earl Sutherland Prize for Achievement in Research, the Javits Neuroscience Investigator Award and the Kreig Cortical Discoverer Award, and is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Founded in 1780, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences is an international learned society composed of the world’s leading scientists, scholars, artists, businesspeople and public leaders. It has a current membership of 3,700 American fellows and 600 foreign honorary members. The academy recently announced the names of 185 new fellows and 26 new foreign honorary members. These individuals, according to the academy, were chosen “in recognition of their contributions in fields ranging from mathematics to medicine, from computer science to literary criticism, and from public affairs to the performing arts.”