NAS Honoree shendure

The National Academy of Sciences announced award winners honoring excellence in science, with genomics leader Jay Shendure of the University of Washington among the honorees. ( photo)

The National Academy of Sciences announced it will honor 19 individuals with awards in recognition of their extraordinary scientific achievements in a wide variety of fields, including

the University of Washington’s Jay Shendure, who received the Richard Lounsberry Award.

Shendure is a pioneer and leader in genomics who has developed new technologies that make DNA sequencing faster, cheaper and more useful — work that is transforming genetics and medicine, according to a bio written on the NAS website.

The Indian American researcher’s innovations began while he was working on his doctorate in 2005, when he co-developed one of the first methods for massively parallel or next-generation DNA sequencing, his bio said.

After starting his own lab, he quickly advanced the technology to enable targeted sequencing of the exome—the genome’s protein-coding regions—a technique which is now in use by labs around the world and has resulted in deep catalogs of human genetic variation. In the process, Shendure showed how the technology can be used to identify genes that cause rare diseases, a strategy that has yielded hundreds of new gene discoveries, it said. 

In 2012, Shendure’s lab introduced technologies for the reconstruction of the genome of a human fetus using “cell-free DNA,” obtained non-invasively from the parents. In 2016, they showed how patterns in cell-free DNA could potentially be used as part of a non-invasive cancer test, the bio added.

The Shendure lab’s most recent innovations include technologies for measuring the gene expression, the epigenome, and the ancestral histories of vast numbers of single cells in developing organisms, according to NAS. 

Collectively, the techniques and ongoing discoveries by Shendure and his lab hold great promise for advancing basic science and improving human health, the academy noted.

The Richard Lounsbery Award is a $50,000 prize given in alternate years to young (no older than 45) French and American scientists to recognize extraordinary scientific achievement in biology and medicine.

It is administered in alternate years by the National Academy of Sciences and the French Académie des Sciences. The Richard Lounsbery Award was established by Vera Lounsbery in honor of her husband, Richard Lounsbery, and is supported by the Richard Lounsbery Foundation.

The recipients will be formally honored at the NAS 156th annual meeting April 28.

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