by: Karl Leif Bates

Xinnian Dong, a biologist who studies the immune system of plants, has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences.

Membership in the NAS is one of the highest honors given to a scientist or engineer in the United States. Dong will be inducted into the Academy next April during its 150th annual meeting in Washington, D.C. 

Dong's research has examined the process by which an entire plant becomes resistant to a pathogen when only one part of it is infected, the daily cycling of a plant's immunity to pathogens, and mechanisms that repair DNA damage when the plant is under attack. 

A graduate of Northwestern University in Chicago and an undergraduate of Wuhan University in China, Dong joined the Duke faculty in 1992 and is the Arts and Sciences Professor of biology. 

Last year, Dong was one of 15 researchers named to the inaugural class of HHMI-GBMF investigators, jointly supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation for five years to pursue innovative work on plant science.  

She was elected to NAS with 83 others this year and will become one of 2,152 active members. Established in 1863, the National Academy of Sciences 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. 

The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit honorific society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furthering science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Among the NAS's renowned members have been Albert Einstein, Robert Oppenheimer, Thomas Edison, Orville Wright, and Alexander Graham Bell. Nearly 200 living Academy members have won Nobel Prizes.  

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