GW SMHS, Children’s National Hospital Faculty Member Nathan Smith, PhD, Elected AAAS Fellow

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Nathan Smtih working in a lab

George Washington University (GW) faculty member Nathan Smith, PhD, assistant professor of pediatrics and of pharmacology and physiology at the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences, was elected to the 2021 class of American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Fellows, among the most distinct honors within the scientific community.

Nathan Smith smiling for a portrait in front of a field

This year’s roster of 564 scientists, engineers, and innovators spans 24 scientific disciplines, with accomplishments ranging from developing vaccine technology and leading breakthroughs in climate science to pioneering artificial intelligence and uncovering insights into the formation of breast cancer.

“AAAS is proud to honor these individuals who represent the kind of forward thinking the scientific enterprise needs while also inspiring hope for what can be achieved in the future,” said Sudip S. Parikh, PhD, AAAS CEO and executive publisher of the journal Science.

In a tradition stretching back to 1874, fellows are elected annually by the AAAS Council and recognized for their extraordinary achievements. Eligible nominees are AAAS members whose efforts on behalf of the advancement of science or its applications are scientifically or socially distinguished.

Smith, also director of basic neuroscience research, Center for Neuroscience Research, and principal investigator, Center for Neuroscience Research at Children’s National Hospital, was selected among the 2021 AAAS Fellows in the neuroscience category.

“I am honored and humbled by my election as a 2021 AAAS Fellow,” said Smith. “This achievement in itself is impressive, but what’s most rewarding about this accomplishment and others — such as being the first Black student to receive his PhD in neuroscience from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and being the first Black faculty member in the Center for Neuroscience Research at Children’s National Research Institute — is that they serve as firm examples for those who look like me to know that nothing is impossible and to keep reaching for the stars.”

Smith’s research focuses on neuroglia interactions, a type of brain cell that provides support, protection, and defense to the nervous system. He and his research team study how these processes in the brain affect the interactions between different areas in healthy brains and how disruptions in these neuroglia interactions contribute to diseases such as learning and memory disorders, ADHD, Alzheimer’s disease, and epilepsy. His research has earned funding through a National Institutes of Health NINDS K01 Faculty Career Development Award, a National Science Foundation Frontiers Award, a Department of Defense Army Research Award, and the Edward M. Connor Family Endowment for Innovation in Research Award.

A lifetime honor, some of the past AAAS electees at GW include President Mark S. Wrighton; Patricia Berg, PhD, Professor Emerita of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine; Leo Chalupa, PhD, professor of pharmacology and physiology; Keith Crandall, PhD, director of George Washington University’s Computational Biology Institute; Chryssa Kouveliotou, PhD, chair of the Department of Physics; Lopa Mishra, MD, director, Center for Translational Medicine and clinical professor of surgery; and Bernard Wood, PhD, DSc, University Professor of Human Origins.

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