NewsDec 16, 2019

Gerald Joyce elected to Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences

Gerald Joyce, a pioneer in the field of directed evolution, has been elected to the prestigious Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences as a foreign member of the Academy’s Class for Chemistry. The Royal Swedish Academy’s approximately 460 Swedish and 175 foreign members together represent some of the world’s foremost experts in science.
Dr. Joyce is the Institute Director of the Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation (GNF) in La Jolla, California. He also is a member of the faculty of the Salk Institute, where he maintains a laboratory in the Jack H. Skirball Center for Chemical Biology and Proteomics. Dr. Joyce is known for his work pertaining to molecular evolution and the origins of life. By studying how the first genetic molecules (DNA and RNA) may have arisen, his research has provided insight into early evolutionary processes as well as how to design synthetic RNA molecules for therapeutic uses in diseases such as cancer, immune disorders, and viral infection.
 
Dr. Joyce uses biochemical techniques to explore the potential of RNA to serve as a catalyst in critical reactions and to search for RNA enzymes that have the ability to bring about their own replication. His laboratory has learned to develop RNA- and DNA-based evolving systems that operate entirely in test tubes. These systems have allowed Joyce’s team to devise molecules whose function is to disrupt disease-related pathways.
 
In his role as Institute Director of GNF, Dr, Joyce leads a team of approximately 450 scientists and engineers who seek to develop novel therapeutic compounds that Novartis may elect to carry forward into human clinical trials. Current drug discovery activities at GNF include efforts to target therapeutically-relevant RNAs using low molecular weight compounds. The ability to drug RNA with small molecules would be transformative, potentially opening up a large new class of therapeutic opportunities by converting undruggable protein targets into druggable RNA targets.
 
A member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the U.S. National Academy of Medicine, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Joyce is the recipient of numerous awards including the Herbert W. Dickerman Award, the Hans Sigrist Prize, the H. C. Urey Award, the Dannie Heinemann Prize, and the National Academy of Sciences Miller Award.
 
About the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences:
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences was founded in 1739 and is an independent non-governmental organization, whose overall objective is to promote the sciences and strengthen their influence in society. The Academy promotes science of the highest quality by fostering development and innovation in Swedish research. It enhances the status of science in society by drawing attention to key social issues, examining them in scientific terms and communicating the results, and joins in cooperation on global issues, with the aim of being an international scientific proponent of sustainable development.