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Congratulations to Dr. Yasuko Rikihisa, professor in the Department of Veterinary Biosciences, who has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences. This is one of the highest honors bestowed upon a U.S. scientist and is a reflection of Dr. Rikihisa’s outstanding research career.
Dr. Rikihisa specializes in the study of tick-borne diseases that infect food and fiber-producing animals, companion animals and humans. Her research focuses on understanding how unique bacterial pathogens Ehrlichia, Anaplasma and Neorickettsia can infect and thrive within primary host defensive white blood cells, and cause potentially fatal emerging infectious diseases. Her findings suggest that these bacteria use proteins directly secreted into the host cell cytoplasm to manipulate immune-system cells in animal and human hosts, effectively creating safe havens for themselves until they can build up enough strength and numbers to cause dangerous diseases.
A member of Ohio State’s faculty since 1986, Rikihisa was named the university’s 2011 Innovator of the Year by the Office of Research in recognition of her record of translational research and commercialization activities. She also is a fellow of the American Association of the Advancement of Science and the American Academy of Microbiology, received the Ohio State Distinguished Scholar Award in 1999, and is an investigator in Ohio State’s Center for Microbial Interface Biology, the Public Health Preparedness for Infectious Diseases (PHPID) program, the Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology program, and the Comprehensive Cancer Center.
The National Academy of Sciences is an honorific society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research dedicated to furthering science and technology and to their use for the public good. It was established in 1863 by a congressional act of incorporation signed by Abraham Lincoln that calls on the Academy to act as an official adviser to the federal government, upon request, in any matter of science or technology. New National Academy of Science members are elected by current members and members represent the truly elite scientists and researchers in the U.S. and globally. Currently, there are only 11 other members of the National Academy of Sciences at The Ohio State University, two of whom are in the College of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Linda Saif, Distinguished University Professor in the Department of Veterinary Preventive Medicine, and the Food Animal Health Research Program at OARDC, is also a current member.