Puerto Rican scientist and founder of CienciaPR receives one of the highest honors in biomedical sciences
Submitted by Giovanna Guerrero-Medina on
Dr. Daniel Colón-Ramos, professor of neuroscience and cell biology at Yale University and president of the board of directors of the non-profit organization Ciencia Puerto Rico, has been elected to the prestigious National Academy of Medicine (NAM).
Election to the NAM recognizes individuals with outstanding professional achievements in the biomedical and health sciences fields and who have demonstrated a commitment to public service. Being elected to this Academy is one of the most prestigious recognitions in the fields of health and biomedical sciences.
Dr. Colón-Ramos studies the formation of the connections and circuits of the nervous system to understand how they give way to complex behaviors in animals and how sensory information is processed. His discoveries have informed fundamental principles in biology, including how a type of cell in the nervous system known as glia influences where new neuronal connections are created and how metabolism affects the function of neurons.
Dr. Colón-Ramos has stood out for his work as a mentor to young scientists, obtaining in 2018 the Landis Award for Outstanding Mentoring, awarded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke of the National Institutes of Health, among others. He also stands out as a fierce advocate for the development of scientific capacity in Puerto Rico. In 2006, he co-founded Ciencia Puerto Rico (www.cienciapr.org), a non-profit organization that democratizes access to scientific knowledge through a network of more than 13,000 scientists, students and educators in Puerto Rico and more than 50 countries of the world. Since 2014, Dr. Colón-Ramos has also been a trustee of the Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust, a role through which he has promoted the financing of research and development projects in Puerto Rico, among many other advances.
“We are extremely proud of our colleague for this well-deserved achievement,” said Dr. Giovanna Guerrero-Medina, executive director of Ciencia Puerto Rico. “Daniel is an exemplary citizen scientist. In addition to scientific excellence, in his search for new knowledge he has always emphasized human excellence, generously providing advice to scientists in training, fostering bridges between science and the public, and exalting Puerto Rico in all his platforms and spheres of influence. "
Raised between the towns of Barranquitas and Guaynabo, Dr. Colón-Ramos completed his undergraduate studies at Harvard University and completed his Ph.D. in genetics and genomics from Duke University in North Carolina. Before obtaining his faculty position at Yale in 2008, Dr. Colón-Ramos did postdoctoral studies at Stanford University.
He is one of 90 new regular members and 10 new international members announced by the Academy and chosen as part of a competitive peer review process. The new members bring NAM's total membership to more than 2,200 and the number of international members to approximately 175. With his selection as a NAM member, he joins at least 5 other Puerto Ricans who have achieved this distinction, including Dr. Manuel Martínez. Maldonado, Francisco González-Scarano, Walter Frontera, Margarita Alegría, Martín Sepúlveda, and Kenneth Ramos.
Originally established as the Institute of Medicine in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences, NAM addresses critical issues in health, science, medicine, and related policy, and inspires positive action in all sectors. NAM works with the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering to provide independent and objective analysis and advice to the United States to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions. The National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine also promote education and research, recognize outstanding contributions to knowledge, and increase public understanding of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). With their election, NAM members agree to volunteer their service in the activities of the National Academies.
Learn more about Dr. Colón-Ramos' work and service in this interview with Dan Rather.