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Ralph S Baric, UNC’s William R. Kenan Jr. Distinguished Professor of Epidemiology and professor of microbiology and immunology, was one of four UNC-Chapel Hill faculty members elected as part of a class of 120 new members to the National Academy of Sciences. The honor recognizes a member’s distinguished and continuing achievements in original research.

Baric is known for his visionary research on some of the most infectious viruses — particularly coronaviruses, noroviruses and flaviviruses. His scientific discoveries made a significant impact on the COVID-19 pandemic by identifying antivirals to fight COVID-19 and collaborating with the National Institutes of Health to test vaccine candidates.

In addition to Baric, UNC-Chapel Hill’s newly elected members include:

  • Kerry S. Bloom, Thad L. Beyle Distinguished professor and chair of the Department of Biology, who was recognized for his research on the organization and distribution of chromosomes. His work has led to significant insights into how chromosomes are organized and the mechanisms responsible for chromosome distribution during the life of a cell.
  • Joseph J. Kieber, Kenan Distinguished professor of biology, who has furthered our knowledge of hormone signaling pathways, specifically cytokinin and ethylene. He has spent his career uncovering critical components of the hormone circuitry coordinating morphological and physiological changes as plants grow and adapt to their environment.
  • Edward D. Salmon, retired James Larkin and Iona Mae Ballou Distinguished professor of biology, who, during his work as a cell biologist and biophysicist, pioneered the development of video and digital imaging microscopy for analysis of molecular and structural dynamics in living cells.

The newly elected NAS members bring the total number of active members to 2,403 and the total number of international members to 501. International members are nonvoting members of the academy with citizenship outside the United States.

The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit institution that was established under a congressional charter signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. It recognizes achievement in science by election to membership, and — with the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Medicine — provides science, engineering and health policy advice to the federal government and other organizations.

Also in April 2021, Triangle Business Journal honored Baric with its Health Care Heroes Lifetime Achievement Award for his career-long study of coronaviruses. Read more