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Hightower honored as elected fellow of AAAS
February 23, 1998

Lawrence Hightower, a professor of molecular and cell biology, has been elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Each year the AAAS Council elects members whose "efforts on behalf of the advancement of science or its applications are scientifically or socially distinguished." Hightower was honored for basic research on thermotolerance and heat shock (stress) protein.

His research began some 20 years ago when he proposed a general mechanism by which all cells, from bacteria to human cells, may protect themselves from potentially lethal damage, a phenomenon known historically as thermotolerance and more recently as cytoprotection. This hypothesis, initially supported by seed funds from the University of Connecticut Research Foundation, received strong experimental support from investigators in a variety of biological disciplines and, over the years, has become a cornerstone in our understanding of how organisms defend themselves against environmental stress.

Hightower also has conducted collaborative research on the cellular defense of fish against environmental pollutants, that helped establish a National Institutes of Health-sponsored national research center at Storrs that has brought more than $1 million to the University.

He also is editor-in-chief of an international journal established in 1995, Cell Stress & Chaperone.

Hightower received the award February 14 at an AAAS fellows forum in Philadelphia, during the association's annual meeting.

With 9,500 members, the AAAS is one of the largest multi-disciplinary professional organizations in the sciences.