In recognition of her distinguished and ongoing achievements in original research, Janet Smith, Ph.D., is among 120 members and 26 international members who have been newly elected to the National Academy of Sciences. Throughout her scientific career Janet has sought to understand biological function at the molecular level through the discovery and analysis of three-dimensional protein structures. For example, she and members of her group have advanced understanding of catalysis and regulation in glutamine amidotransferases and phosphoribosyltransferases by solving and interpreting crystal structures of several enzymes of each type. Janet has made substantial contributions to the development of methods for rapid determination of protein crystal structures, particularly using synchrotron X-ray sources. Recent work in Janet's lab has focused on the structure and function of polyketide synthases, the multidomain protein machineries that assemble polyketide natural products. Polyketides are the basis of many existing drugs, so these studies uncover fundamental details about how complex biosynthetic machines work while aiding drug discovery efforts.
Janet is the Margaret J. Hunter Collegiate Professor in the Life Sciences, Professor of Biological Chemistry in the University of Michigan Medical School, and Research Professor, Associate Institute Director, and Center for Structural Biology Director at the Life Sciences Institute. Some of Janet's previous honors include the Distinguished Faculty Lectureship Award in Biomedical Research (2016), election to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (2007), and a National Institutes of Health MERIT Award in recognition of her contributions to understanding the structure and function of complex enzymes (1998-2008).
Election to the National Academy of Sciences is one of the highest honors that a scientist can receive, and we congratulate Janet for this well-deserved recognition!