Two WUSTL faculty named AAAS fellows

Two faculty members from Washington University in St. Louis have been named fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world’s largest general scientific society.

The new fellows are Michael J. Holtzman, MD, and Rohit V. Pappu, PhD. The rank of fellow is the highest honor awarded by AAAS in recognition of distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications.

The WUSTL faculty members are among 388 new fellows acknowledged in the Nov. 29 issue of Science magazine. The 2013 AAAS fellows also will be honored Feb. 15 at the organization’s national meeting in Chicago.


Michael J. Holtzman

Holtzman, the Selma and Herman Seldin Professor of Medicine, is being honored by AAAS for his distinguished contributions to understanding and treating chronic lung diseases such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and the role of respiratory viruses in these disorders.

At Washington University School of Medicine, Holtzman has performed pioneering research on the unsuspected link between acute viral infection and chronic inflammatory disease. His recent insight uncovered the possibility that viral infections may reprogram lung stem cells as a renewable trigger for chronic inflammation. In addition to defining the cause of lung disease, Holtzman has led the development of a drug discovery program that includes new facilities for high-throughput screening, medicinal chemistry and structural biology. As part of the program, scientists are identifying new therapeutics and translating them into practice to reduce excess mucus production, combat viral infection and inhibit inflammation in the airway.

Holtzman earned his undergraduate and medical degrees from Northwestern University and completed his medicine residency at Duke University and a pulmonary fellowship at the University of California, San Francisco. He came to WUSTL in 1987, where he became the director of the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine in 1992 and received a joint appointment in the Department of Cell Biology and Physiology.

Holtzman has received numerous awards for his research contributions. He was elected to membership in the American Society of Clinical Investigation and the Association of American Physicians. He is also the recipient of a Career Investigator Award from the American Lung Association and a Recognition Award for Scientific Accomplishments from the American Thoracic Society. He also was named the J. Burns Amberson Lecturer by the American Thoracic Society, which honors one individual each year for distinguished scientific contributions to the understanding, prevention and treatment of lung disease. Most recently, he was chosen to serve on the National Advisory Council for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. He also is an active editor, serving on editorial boards for five research journals, and a productive writer, having published 200 scientific articles on his research.

A key characteristic of Holtzman’s approach has been the multidisciplinary nature of his group’s research activities. He notes that the complexity of common diseases must be addressed with similarly complex teams to achieve a solution. Holtzman sees his role as assembling and guiding this team to deliver an effective drug to treat severe respiratory diseases, which have become increasingly common.