His research focuses on micro RNAs (miRNAs), small pieces of RNA that regulate gene expression and play a crucial role in the growth and development of plants and animals. Bartel’s work has implications for cancer research, as his lab recently discovered one miRNA-mediated gene that is important for preventing tumor growth.
Election to the NAS recognizes distinguished achievements in original research. The academy, when founded in 1863, called upon a group of scholars to "investigate, examine, experiment, and report upon any subject of science or art" whenever requested by the government. Today, NAS membership continues to be one of the highest honors afforded to scientists and engineers.
Of the 72 new members elected to the NAS this year, 10 were MIT alumni:
- Richard L. Edwards ’76; George and Orpha Gibson Chair of Earth Systems Sciences and Distinguished McKnight University Professor, University of Minnesota
- David Gabai ’76; Hughes-Rogers Professor of Mathematics, Princeton University
- Stuart Geman PhD ’77; James Manning Professor of Applied Mathematics, Brown University
- David M. Kingsley PhD ’86; professor of developmental biology, Stanford University; investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute
- Jon M. Kleinberg SM ’94, PhD ’96; Tisch University Professor of Computer Science, Cornell University
- Leslie B. Lamport ’60; principal researcher, Microsoft Research
- Herbert Levine '76; professor of physics, University of California at San Diego
- Piermaria J. Oddone ’65; director, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory
- Luis F. Parada PhD ’85; Diana K. and Richard C. Strauss Distinguished Chair in Developmental Biology, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
- Andrew Strominger PhD ’81; Gwill E. York Professor of Physics, Harvard University