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Andrew Read elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society

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21 May 2015

Andrew ReadAndrew F. Read, Evan Pugh Professor of Biology and Entomology and Eberly Professor in Biotechnology at Penn State, has been elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, the leading academy of sciences of the United Kingdom. The Royal Society is a self-governing fellowship of many of the world’s most distinguished scientists. The stated purpose of the society is to recognize, promote, and support excellence in science and to encourage the development and use of science for the benefit of humanity. Each year, the Fellows of the Royal Society elect up to 52 new fellows and up to ten new foreign members who have made substantial contributions to the improvement of knowledge in science, engineering, or medicine.

Read is the director of Penn State's Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics and is leading Penn State’s initiative in evolutionary risk analysis and mitigation. He perhaps is best known for his research on how natural selection shapes the virulence of malaria and how the "unnatural" selection imposed by medicine shapes the evolution of disease-causing organisms.

Read’s research is aimed at determining what can be done to minimize the impact on human health and well-being of the evolution of pathogens and of the organisms that carry and transmit these pathogens. Prompted by medical and public-health measures, this evolution can produce adaptations in pathogens that lead to drug and pesticide resistance, increased virulence and infectiousness, and the ability to evade formerly effective vaccines. Read is particularly interested in the question of how best to treat patients so as to minimize the evolution of resistance. His group works mostly on malaria, myxoma viruses in rabbits, and cancer-causing viruses in chickens, with new work on hospital-acquired infections. Read's research, which provides an improved understanding of pathogen evolution, can be used to inform public-health decisions. His research currently is supported by the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, Gates Foundation, and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (UK).

Read was named an Evan Pugh Professor, the highest honor that Penn State bestows on a faculty member, in 2014 and was named the Eberly Professor in Biotechnology at Penn State in 2015. He was named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in 2012. Honors for his research achievements also include an Institute for Advanced Studies in Berlin fellowship in 2006, a Royal Society of Edinburgh fellowship in 2003, and a scientific medal from the Zoological Society of London in 1999.

Read has served on the scientific advisory boards of the Finnish Centre of Excellence in Evolutionary Research and the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, as well as on other international scientific committees. He currently serves on the editorial boards of PLOS Biology, Trends in Ecology, and Evolution and Evolutionary Applications, and he is a senior associate editor of the journal Evolutionary Medicine and Public Health. Read has coauthored more than 190 scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals such as Science, Nature, PLOS Biology, Evolution, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Before joining Penn State in 2007, Read was at the University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom, where he was the 13th Professor of Natural History, an endowed chair established in 1767. He was an adjunct professor in evolutionary ecology at the University of Tromsø in Norway from 1992 to 1997, and a lecturer in zoology at St. Catherine's College at Oxford University in the United Kingdom from 1989 to 1990. He earned a doctoral degree in evolutionary biology at the University of Oxford in 1989 and a bachelor's degree with honors in zoology at the University of Otago in New Zealand in 1984.

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