Two Yale School of Medicine Professors Are Named AAAS Fellows

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has named two Yale School of Medicine researchers as AAAS Fellows for their distinguished efforts to advance science.

John H. Krystal, MD, Robert L. McNeil, Jr. Professor of Translational Research and professor of psychiatry, of neuroscience, and of psychology; and Sally Shaywitz, MD, Audrey G. Ratner Professor of Pediatrics (Neurology), are among 489 association members awarded the honor this year by AAAS. The new AAAS Fellows will be inducted at a virtual ceremony on Feb. 13, 2021.

Election as an AAAS Fellow is an honor bestowed upon AAAS members by their peers. Members can be considered for the rank of Fellow if nominated by the steering groups of the association’s 24 sections, or by any three Fellows who are current AAAS members. Each steering group reviews the nominations of individuals within its respective section and a final list is forwarded to the AAAS Council, which votes on the aggregate list.

Krystal, chair of the Yale Department of Psychiatry, chief of psychiatry at Yale New Haven Hospital, and co-director of the Yale Center for Clinical Investigation, is being honored for his transformative contributions to human neuroscience, particularly research on glutamate signaling and the resultant development of ketamine as a novel rapid antidepressant.

In the early 1990s, Krystal and fellow psychiatrists at Yale discovered that chronically depressed patients experienced almost immediate relief from symptoms after taking the anesthetic ketamine. In 2019, the Food and Drug Administration approved a new antidepressant, esketamine, that is now available by prescription. Esketamine is a nasal spray that is derived from ketamine.

“Yale has been and continues to be an incredible home for translational neuroscience,” Krystal said. “There were very few other places in the world where we could have conducted our research.”

Shaywitz, co-director of the Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity, is being honored for distinguished contributions to the public’s understanding of the biological basis and natural history of dyslexia and communicating these discoveries to the public.

In addition to her more than 350 scientific publications with Bennett Shaywitz, MD, Charles and Helen Schwab Professor of Pediatrics (Neurology), she is author of the best-selling book, Overcoming Dyslexia, which has transformed people’s understanding of dyslexia and provided practical approaches and specific interventions for parents and educators.

Shaywitz is committed to ensuring that scientific discoveries are translated into action, as reflected in her latest 2020 publication, The Yale Outcome Study: Outcome of Graduates with and without Dyslexia. Working closely with administration, faculty, and students to transmit the latest knowledge of dyslexia, Shaywitz credits Yale’s unique openness to embrace and apply scientific discoveries to the study’s very positive outcome which she hopes will stimulate other colleges and universities to follow Yale’s lead.

AAAS is the world’s largest general scientific society and publisher of several scientific journals. It was founded in 1848 and includes more than 250 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 10 million people.