UK’s Sanders-Brown Center on Aging Director Elected as AAAS Fellow

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 24, 2020)  Linda J. Van Eldik, director of the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging at the University of Kentucky, has been named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Election as an AAAS Fellow is an honor bestowed upon AAAS members by their peers. This year, 489 members from around the world have been awarded this honor by AAAS because of their scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications. 

“I am extremely honored and humbled to be elected as an AAAS Fellow, especially because the AAAS Fellows program recognizes individuals across all disciplines,” said Van Eldik. “It is an honor to join a group of distinguished Fellows such as inventor Thomas Edison, sociologist and civil rights activist W.E.B. DuBois, physicist and Nobel Laureate Steven Chu, astronaut Ellen Ochoa, astronomer Maria Mitchell, chemist Linus Pauling, computer scientist Grace Hopper, anthropologist Margaret Mead and UK’s own Dean of Pharmacy R. Kip Guy, just to name a few.”

Van Eldik is one of only six women from UK that have been awarded this honor and she is the first since 1966. She was nominated through the neuroscience section and was elected specifically for her distinguished contributions on how aberrant glia-neuronal interactions impact neurodegenerative processes, focusing on the identification of signal transduction pathways that mediate neuroinflammatory responses of activated glia.

“In addition to being an honor for me personally, this election brings great recognition to Sanders-Brown and UK in general. My election is based on scientific contributions in the area of brain inflammation and its role in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, areas of research where Sanders-Brown is a national leader. In addition, because election as an AAAS Fellow is determined deliberately and carefully to preserve the honor attached to this recognition, it emphasizes the high prestige and professional standing that the University of Kentucky has in the national community,” said Van Eldik.

The tradition of AAAS Fellows began in 1874. Currently, members can be considered for the rank of Fellow if nominated by the steering groups of the association’s 24 sections, or by any three Fellows who are current AAAS members (so long as two of the three sponsors are not affiliated with the nominee’s institution), or by the AAAS chief executive officer. Fellows must have been continuous members of AAAS for four years by the end of the calendar year in which they are elected. The AAAS Fellow honor comes with an expectation that recipients maintain the highest standards of professional ethics and scientific integrity.

Each steering group reviews the nominations of individuals within its respective section and a final list is forwarded to the AAAS Council, which votes on the aggregate list.

The Council is the policymaking body of the Association, chaired by the AAAS president, and consisting of the members of the board of directors, the retiring section chairs, delegates from each electorate and each regional division, and two delegates from the National Association of Academies of Science.

AAAS encourages its sections and Council to consider diversity among those nominated and selected as Fellows, in keeping with the association’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.  

 

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The University of Kentucky initiated its aging program in 1963. With a grant from the Eleanor and John Y. Brown Jr. Foundation in 1972, the construction of the current Sanders-Brown Research Building was begun and, with additional funding from the state, a program in biomedical research was implemented. In 1979, under the direction of the late Dr. William Markesbery, Sanders-Brown emerged as a national leader in efforts to improve the quality of life for the elderly through research and education. SBCoA's major areas of focus are normal brain aging, stroke, and Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.

In 1985, the University of Kentucky Sanders-Brown Center on Aging Alzheimer's Disease Center was funded as one of the first 10 Alzheimer's Disease Research Centers funded by the National Institute on Aging, part of the National Institutes of Health, grant number P30AG028383. Currently, only 31 designated Alzheimer's Disease Research Centersexist in the U.S. and only nine -- including Sanders-Brown -- have been continuously funded since the designation was launched.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is the world’s largest general scientific society and publisher of the journal Science, as well as Science Translational MedicineScience Signaling; a digital, open-access journal, Science AdvancesScience Immunology; and Science Robotics. AAAS was founded in 1848 and includes more than 250 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 10 million individuals. The nonprofit AAAS is open to all and fulfills its mission to “advance science and serve society” through initiatives in science policy, international programs, science education, public engagement, and more. For additional information about AAAS, see www.aaas.org.