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Salk professor Joanne Chory awarded 2012 Genetics Society of America Medal

Leader in plant biology research recognized for outstanding contributions to the field of genetics

Salk Institute


IMAGE: This is Joanne Chory. view more

Credit: Courtesy of Salk Institute for Biological Studies

The Genetics Society of America(GSA) has honored Joanne Chory, Salk Institute professor and director of the Plant Molecular and Cellular Biology Laboratory and Howard H. and Maryam R. Newman Chair in Plant Biology, as the recipient of the prestigious 2012 Genetics Society of America Medal.

GSA established the Genetics Society of America Medal in 1981 to recognize mid-career researchers for outstanding contributions to the field of genetics during the previous 15 years of their careers; it is one of five awards given out annually by the prestigious organization for "distinguished service in the field of genetics."

GSA President Philip Hieter, Ph.D., said,"the individuals honored this year exemplify the seminal contributions that genetics makes to our fundamental understanding of living systems, helping point the way toward such applications as developing new treatments for human disease and increasing the yields of agricultural crops. We are delighted to honor these geneticists who have added so much not only to our field, but to society as a whole."

Chory, an expert on how plants regulate their growth, pioneered the analysis of plant responses using genetic approaches in Arabidopsis thaliana to reveal the molecular mechanisms underlying plant development. Her laboratory has led the plant field for 20 years and made major discoveries in how plants detect and respond to changes in their environment, particularly light, which has implications for the growth and development of agricultural crops in challenging environments. She elucidated how plants perceive light; identified how chloroplasts signal to the nucleus; and defined a new pathway for the biosynthesis of the plant hormone auxin. She also discovered a novel steroid hormone in plants, identified the steroid receptor and elegantly dissected the signaling network.

"The Genetics Society of America Medal is a tremendous honor and underscores Joanne's extraordinary impact and leadership in the field of plant biology," said William R. Brody, President, Salk Institute. "For more than two decades, Joanne has been a driving force in understanding how plants detect and respond to changes in the environment."

Chory has received many awards and honors throughout her career including the Award for Initiatives in Research from the National Academy of Sciences, the L'Oreal-UNESCO Award for Women in Science and the Kumho Award in Plant Molecular Biology among others. In 2003, Dr. Chory was named Scientific American's Research Leader in Agriculture. She is a member of the Royal Society, U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the German National Academy of Sciences (Leopoldina), the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Joanne Chory is a foreign associate of the French Academy of Sciences and is an associate member of EMBO.

In 2011, Thomson Reuters Essential Science Indicators named the Salk Institute as the number one research organization for plant biology in the world.


About the Genetics Society of America:

Founded in 1931, the Genetics Society of America (GSA) is the professional scientific society for genetics researchers and educators. Its nearly 5,000 members work to advance knowledge in the basic mechanisms of inheritance, from the molecular to the population level. GSA promotes research and fosters communication among geneticists worldwide through a number of GSA-sponsored conferences including the biennial conference on Model Organisms to Human Biology, an interdisciplinary meeting on current and cutting edge topics in genetics research, and annual and biennial meetings that focus on the genetics of particular model organisms. GSA publishes GENETICS, the leading journal for seminal research in the field and a new, online publication, G3: Genes|Genomes|Genetics, which publishes high quality foundational research, particularly research that generates useful genetic and genomic information. For more information about GSA, please visit

About the Salk Institute for Biological Studies:

The Salk Institute for Biological Studies is one of the world's preeminent basic research institutions, where internationally renowned faculty probe fundamental life science questions in a unique, collaborative, and creative environment. Focused both on discovery and on mentoring future generations of researchers, Salk scientists make groundbreaking contributions to our understanding of cancer, aging, Alzheimer's, diabetes and infectious diseases by studying neuroscience, genetics, cell and plant biology, and related disciplines.

Faculty achievements have been recognized with numerous honors, including Nobel Prizes and memberships in the National Academy of Sciences. Founded in 1960 by polio vaccine pioneer Jonas Salk, M.D., the Institute is an independent nonprofit organization and architectural landmark.

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