Two VP&S Scientists Elected to the National Academy of Sciences

Two researchers at the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons—Oliver Hobert and Arthur G. Palmer III—were elected this week to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, which recognizes distinguished and continuing achievements in original research. Election to the National Academy of Sciences is a widely accepted mark of excellence in science and is considered one of the highest honors that a scientist can receive.  

Three other Columbia faculty members—Scott Barrett, the Lenfest-Earth Institute Professor of Natural Resource Economics; Jessica Fanzo, professor of climate; and Duong H. Phong, professor of mathematics—were also elected.

Oliver Hobert 

Oliver Hobert, PhD

Oliver Hobert

Professor of Biological Sciences and of Biochemistry & Molecular Biophysics

Oliver Hobert studies the molecular mechanisms responsible for generating the remarkable diversity of cell types found in the nervous system. Using C. elegans as a model system, his laboratory has revealed the regulatory mechanisms that control terminal neuronal identity and demonstrated that these mechanisms are conserved in chordates.

Hobert is also an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and a member of the Department of Systems Biology at VP&S. He was elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2014. He joined Columbia in 1999. 

Arthur G. Palmer III 

Arthur G. Palmer

Arthur G. Palmer III

Robert Wood Johnson Jr. Professor of Biochemistry & Molecular Biophysics 

Arthur Palmer uses nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy to study the structures and dynamical properties of proteins and other macromolecules. Conformational changes of proteins are required for nearly all biological functions and inappropriate conformational transitions are associated with numerous diseases. 

Methods developed in Palmer’s laboratory have opened new opportunities for characterizing rare structural states of macromolecules that are important in diverse biological processes, including enzyme catalysis and molecular recognition. Research in the lab is now revealing in unprecedented detail molecular features and principles underlying conformational changes, dynamics, and kinetics that are critical for understanding normal and abnormal biological functions of proteins and other macromolecules. 

Palmer is also vice chair of the Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biophysics, associate dean for graduate affairs at VP&S, and the co-author of "Protein NMR Spectroscopy: Principles and Practice," a widely used text for graduate student and postdoctoral-level training. He joined Columbia in 1992.