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Medical School Microbiologist Samuel Kaplan Elected AAAS Fellow
This is an outstanding and well-deserved recognition for Dr. Kaplan
Samuel Kaplan, Ph.D., professor and chairman of the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics at The University of Texas Medical School at Houston, has been elected a Fellow in the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world’s largest general scientific society and the publisher of the journal, Science. This honor is bestowed on AAAS members by their peers.
He is the only 2007 AAAS Fellow from The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, joining two named from The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.
“This is an outstanding and well-deserved recognition for Dr. Kaplan and his extraordinary abilities as a scientist and teacher. His election as an AAAS Fellow also brings great honor to our university,” said James T. Willerson, president of the UT Health Science Center at Houston. “We are very grateful that Dr. Kaplan is among us and makes such valuable contributions to the greatness of this institution.”
Kaplan was elected for his outstanding fundamental research in bacterial photosynthesis and for sustained and effective leadership in the profession of microbiology. His laboratory studies the mechanisms through which oxygen and light control gene expression as applied to the photosynthetic bacterium, Rhodobacter sphaeroides.
“Virtually all living systems are exposed to these ubiquitous environmental elements and we know that many disease states – from oxidative damage of the cellular DNA, as well as the inability to repair ultraviolet-induced DNA damage – are all too common in human populations,” Kaplan said.
“Because this bacterium most closely resembles the mammalian mitochondrion, the ‘powerplant’ of the mammalian cell, we are also able to learn much about the mitochondrion and its function,” he said. “The study of bacteria has proven instrumental in advancing our understanding of cellular structure and function.”
Kaplan has served as chairman of the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics at the UT Medical School at Houston for almost 20 years, with prior service at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Oxford University in England and Case Western Reserve University. Two students who received their doctorates under Kaplan are now members of the National Academy of Sciences and a third earned the Presidential Medal of Science & Technology.
Kaplan is currently the chairman of the Publications Board of the American Society for Microbiology (ASM), which publishes 11 journals and 25 books per year. He referees article submissions for the Journal of Biological Chemistry and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. He has authored or coauthored more than 230 scholarly articles and has several more due out this year alone.
Kaplan has a doctorate in cell biology and molecular genetics from the University of California – San Diego, a master’s of science from Yale University and bachelor’s of science from Cornell University. He had a postdoctoral fellowship at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, England. He is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps.
This year, 471 members have been awarded this honor by the AAAS for their efforts to advance science or its applications. They will be recognized at the Fellows Forum at the AAAS annual meeting Feb. 16, 2008 in Boston.
AAAS was founded in 1848, and includes some 262 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 10 million individuals.