Six from Hopkins named AAAS Fellows

They join an esteemed group of scientists, engineers, and innovators who have been recognized for their achievements across disciplines

Clockwise from left: Takanari Inoue, Patricia Janak, Rejji Kuruvilla, Cynthia L.
Clockwise from left: Takanari Inoue, Patricia Janak, Rejji Kuruvilla, Cynthia L. Sears, Akira Sawa, and Robert Moffitt
Six Johns Hopkins researchers are among 502 distinguished scholars recognized this year as fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science , the world’s largest general scientific society. Since 1874, fellows have been elected by the AAAS Council for their achievements in their respective fields and contributions to science at large.

The AAAS fellows from Johns Hopkins are:

Takanari Inoue

Takanari Inoue joined the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine faculty in 2008 and is a professor in the Department of Cell Biology and director of the Biochemistry, Cellular and Molecular Biology (BCMB) Graduate Program. His lab has developed a kind of actuator, converting energy to motion, at the molecular level with the high temporal and spatial precision to move and probe actions in live cells, such as chemotaxis, phagocytosis, and degranulation, as well as the function of cilia, microtubules, and stress granules. Inoue also leads the Center for Cell Dynamics within the Institute for Basic Biomedical Sciences.

Patricia Janak

Patricia Janak joined the Johns Hopkins University faculty in 2014 as a Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of Associative Learning and Addiction with joint appointments in the Krieger School and School of Medicine. Janak investigates the biological basis of behavior and associative learning, with a particular focus on addiction. She examines the role environmental stimuli take in regulating emotional responses and impacting decision-making, aiming to better understand how drugand alcohol-associated stimuli contribute to relapse. Janak’s research is focused on the behavioral and neurobiological mechanisms underlying adaptive and maladaptive associative learning. She combines formal learning theories and models of behavior with cutting-edge neuroscience tools to interrogate how learning changes the way neural circuits operate in the brain. Janak studies these changes both in normal learning scenarios and in pathological learning, such as drug addiction or post-traumatic stress disorder. Her current research goals are to understand the amygdala’s role in behavior triggered by cues associated with both positive and negative outcomes, the function dopamine serves in reward-related behavior, and the behavioral and neural mechanisms underlying drug relapse.

Rejji Kuruvilla

Rejji Kuruvilla is a professor of biology and vice dean for natural sciences at the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences , and she holds a joint appointment in the Department of Neuroscience at the School of Medicine. She received her bachelor’s degree from Calcutta University in India, her PhD from the University of Houston, and did her postdoctoral work at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Her research focuses on the development and functions of the sympathetic nervous system. She has co-authored numerous papers that have been published in journals including Nature, The Journal of Neuroscience, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Developmental Cell, and Neuron.

Robert A. Moffitt

Robert A. Moffitt is a professor in the Department of Economics in the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences and holds a joint appointment at the Bloomberg School of Public Health. His research interests are in the areas of labor economics and applied microeconomics, focusing specifically on low-income populations in the U.S. He is a fellow of the Econometric Society, a fellow of the Society of Labor Economists, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences, and his accolades include a Guggenheim Fellowship and a MERIT Award from the National Institutes of Health. Previously, he served as chief editor of the American Economic Review, co-editor of the Review of Economics and Statistics, chief editor of the Journal of Human Resources, and as chair of the National Academy of Sciences Panel to Evaluate Welfare Reform. Currently, he serves as editor of Tax Policy and the Economy, a publication of the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Akira Sawa

Psychiatrist and neuroscientist Akira Sawa is director of the Johns Hopkins Schizophrenia Center ; professor of psychiatry, neuroscience, biomedical engineering, genetic medicine, and pharmacology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine; and professor of mental health at the Bloomberg School of Public Health. He started his Johns Hopkins career as an independent faculty investigator in 2002. Since 2012, he has served as the director and endowed chair of the Johns Hopkins Schizophrenia Center. The center focuses on patient care, research, education, and public outreach for psychotic disorders and severe mental disorders. In 2020, he was elected as a fellow to the Association of American Physicians. Based on Sawa’s training in both clinical psychiatry and basic molecular neuroscience, he leads multidisciplinary translational projects to address mechanistic questions for major mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia, mood disorders, and Alzheimer’s disease, with a particular emphasis on early detection and early intervention of these conditions.

Cynthia Sears

Cynthia L. Sears is a professor of medicine, oncology, and molecular microbiology and immunology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the Bloomberg School of Public Health. She leads the Microbiome Program of the Bloomberg-Kimmel Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy at the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, the director of the Germfree Murine Core, and co-director of the Microbiome Forum at Johns Hopkins. Through translational and bench research stemming from her training as an infectious disease specialist and physician-scientist, she discovered a central immune mechanism by which enteric bacteria and the microbiome promote colon carcinogenesis and modulate cancer immunotherapy responses. This mechanism has proven important in multiple examples of inflammation-induced carcinogenesis and thus provides opportunities to contribute to cancer immunoprevention and interception spanning many tumor types. She has long been an active member of the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA), serving as president of IDSA in 2019. She is currently editor-in-chief of The Journal of Infectious Diseases, the flagship journal of the IDSA.