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Joan W. Conaway elected to National Academy of Sciences

Joan Conaway

May 01, 2020

Joan Weliky Conaway, PhD, an investigator at the Stowers Institute for Medical Research and member of The University of Kansas Cancer Center’s Cancer Biology research program, has been elected a member of the prestigious National Academy of Sciences (NAS) for her distinguished and continuing achievements in original scientific research. Membership in the NAS is considered one of the highest honors given to a scientist in the United States.

Dr. Conaway has been a Stowers investigator since 2001. Stowers is a member of the cancer center’s National Cancer Institute Consortium partnership. She is also an affiliate professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at The University of Kansas Medical Center. Dr. Conaway and her husband, Stowers investigator and cancer center member Ron Conaway, PhD, have significantly advanced scientific understanding of how information encoded in the DNA of our genome is transcribed into a blueprint that is then used to make proteins involved in virtually every biological process.

The Conaways’ discoveries have shed new light on the molecular mechanisms of transcriptional regulation – the complicated biological process that transcribes a gene's DNA instructions for a specific protein into a format (messenger RNA, or mRNA) that can be interpreted by the cell's protein manufacturing machinery. In addition to revealing how gene transcription occurs at the molecular level, the Conaways' research has highlighted some of the steps in the process which, when disrupted, can play a role in cancer and other diseases.

“The National Academy of Sciences represents some of science’s most distinguished thought leaders,” said Roy Jensen, MD, director of the cancer center. “Dr. Conaway’s basic science discoveries have helped advance our understanding of cancer’s biology. She is very deserving of this honor.”

The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit institution that was created in 1863 to advise the nation on issues related to science and technology. Scholars are elected in recognition of their outstanding contributions to research. This year’s election brings the total of active academy members to 2,403.

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