UCSF Professor Elected To National Academy of Sciences

Neurologist Louis Ptacek Receives Top Honor for Work on Disease Genetics

By Jason Bardi

Louis Ptacek, MDLouis Ptacek, MD

UCSF neurologist Louis Ptacek, MD, has been elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), for his research on the biology and genetics of several human diseases and disorders -- from epilepsy and migraine to sleep disorders and jet lag.

He joins 83 other new members and 21 foreign associates, the Academy announced today.

Membership in the Academy is one of the highest honors bestowed on scientists and engineers in the United States. The 2,152 currently active members include nearly 200 Nobel Prize winners. Deceased members include Albert Einstein, Robert Oppenheimer, Thomas Edison, Orville Wright, and Alexander Graham Bell.

Ptacek is the John C. Coleman Distinguished Professor of Neurology at UCSF and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. He leads the Division of Neurogenetics within the Department of Neurology in the UCSF School of Medicine.

His work involves working with families around the world whose members share specific disease-related genetic traits.

“The more we understand how specific genes and proteins function in normal biology and what role they may play in neurological diseases, the better we can find new and better treatments and diagnostics for them,” said Ptacek.

A graduate of the University of Wisconsin, Madison (BS in mathematics and MD), Ptacek did his medical residency in neurology at the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, where he was a professor until coming to UCSF in 2003. Author of more than 120 original publications, Ptacek has received numerous professional awards, including the 2012 UCSF Faculty Lecture Award in Basic Science, which he shared with his long-time collaborator, Ying-Hui Fu, UCSF professor of neurology.

Ptacek will be formally inducted into the Academy next April during its 150th annual meeting in Washington, D.C. UCSF now has 44 current faculty members in the distinguished group. Altogether, University of California campuses have 355 current members.

Established in 1863, the National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit honorific society of distinguished scholars that 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. For more information, or for the full list of newly elected members, visit http://www.nasonline.org/site/PageServer.

UCSF is a leading university dedicated to promoting health worldwide through advanced biomedical research, graduate-level education in the life sciences and health professions, and excellence in patient care.