WASHINGTON, D.C. - James Carrington, a professor of botany and plant pathology at Oregon State University and a pioneer in the study of "small RNA" in genetic regulation, today was elected to the National Academy of Sciences.

This honor, one of the most prestigious that can be made to any scientist or engineer, is based on excellence in original scientific research. Carrington will be inducted into the academy next April during its 146th annual meeting in Washington, D.C., along with 71 other individuals recognized this year.

Among past members of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) are such luminaries as Albert Einstein, Robert Oppenheimer, Thomas Edison and Orville Wright. NAS members currently affiliated with OSU include Distinguished Professor of Zoology Jane Lubchenco ('96), G. Brent Dalrymple, emeritus professor of Marine Geology and Geophysics ('93), and K.E. van Holde, distinguished professor emeritus of Biochemistry and Biophysics ('89).

Carrington received his doctorate from the University of California at Berkeley and has been on the OSU faculty since 2001, where he directs the university's Center for Genome Research and Biocomputing. His research has received millions of dollars in grant support from the National Institutes of Health and other agencies to explore such topics as how genes are "silenced" through a natural mechanism involving tiny RNA.

Carrington and others recently showed that animals, plants and other organisms use small RNAs and gene silencing to control growth, development, and defense against viruses. A few years ago the research on small RNAs was cited by the journal Science as the scientific "Breakthrough of the Year." His work has also "significantly altered our understanding of gene regulation in plants," scientists said in nominating him for this honor.

"This is an extraordinary accomplishment and recognition for any scientist," said Sabah Randhawa, OSU provost and executive vice president. "It reflects well on the quality of world-class science that is being done here at OSU, and Jim's election to the academy is an honor for the university."

"Jim's work on small-RNA has been instrumental in helping us understand how plant functions are controlled at the most fundamental genetic levels - and basic knowledge such as this is what has always set the stage for the most important advances in agriculture, medicine and other fields," he said.

NAS is a private, non-profit honorific society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furthering of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare.

Established in 1863, the Academy has served to "investigate, examine, experiment, and report upon any subject of science or art" whenever called upon to do so by any department of the government.

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Maureen O'Leary
National Academy of Sciences