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Biochemistry professor honored for groundbreaking research

Elizabeth J. Tran, professor of biochemistry, has been named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences (AAAS), one of the most distinct honors within the scientific community.

The citation for Tran states: For distinguished contributions to the field of molecular and cellular gene regulation, particularly for dissecting how RNA and DNA structures impact every step of gene expression.

Tran, who has been a Purdue faculty member since 2009, is an expert in RNA biology and studies helicases that alter RNA structure. In addition to extensive published research, her accomplishments include the Purdue Cancer Research Award, the RNA Society Lifetime Service Award, and recipient of a National Institute of Health grant for three consecutive cycles. 

“Dr. Tran’s research program has generated remarkable insights that span the fields of RNA biology, epigenetics, metabolism and cancer,” said Joe Ogas, interim department head and professor of biochemistry. “She has also played a leading role in training and mentoring young scientists in the Department of Biochemistry.  We are thrilled to have her many outstanding contributions recognized in this fashion.”

Tran’s research uses a combination of biochemistry, molecular biology and bioinformatics to address key questions about the mechanisms of RNA helicases, the roles of long non-coding RNAs, and to pinpoint RNA-based processes whose mis-regulation results in cancer.  This multidisciplinary approach allows for new insights and novel discoveries in RNA biology.

Being chosen as a Fellow of the AAAS is a recognition by my own peers not only of my work, but also of the work of my lab and my students. And it’s my pleasure to share that honor. My work is my research, but it’s also training and mentoring junior scientists and new faculty. I’m fostering the future when I help others.

- Elizabeth J. Tran, professor of biochemistry

The tradition of AAAS fellows stretches back to 1874. Eligible nominees are members whose efforts on behalf of the advancement of science or its applications are scientifically or socially distinguished. Newly elected fellows are recognized for their extraordinary achievements at the ceremonial Fellows Forum, a time-honored event at the AAAS Annual Meeting in March.

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