New York - Two NYU scientists were elected this week to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), a distinction that recognizes their continuing achievements in original research. The honorees are Charles Newman, Ph.D., (pictured left) professor of mathematics and director of the Courant Institute for Mathematical Sciences at New York University, and Dan R. Littman, M.D., Ph.D., (pictured right) the Helen L. and Martin S. Kimmel Professor of Molecular Immunology at the Skirball Institute of Biomolecular Medicine at New York University School of Medicine and an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Election to the NAS is widely considered one of the highest accolades that can be accorded to a scientist. Professor Newman and Dr. Littman were among the 72 new members admitted to the NAS, which has a total membership of just under 2,000.

NYU President John Sexton said, "Research universities have a special place in the field of higher education. Their faculty does not only transmit knowledge, they create new knowledge. Chuck Newman and Dan Littman are outstanding scientists who embody two of this institution's core values -- scholarly excellence and professional leadership. With 21 NAS members on faculty, nine of which have been elected during the past ten years, they join a very distinguished and steadily growing group here at NYU."

David McLaughlin, NYU Provost, professor of mathematics and neural science and NAS member, said, "The generation of significant new research is at the heart of our mission, and the work of Charles Newman and Dan Littman are shining examples of the quality of work taking place at the Courant Institute and the School of Medicine, as well as at NYU as a whole. We are proud to call them our colleagues and we congratulate them on their election into the National Academy of Sciences."

The NAS is a private organization of scientists and engineers dedicated to the furtherance of science and its use for the general welfare. It was established in 1863 by a congressional act of incorporation that calls on the Academy to act as an official adviser to the federal government in any matter of science or technology.

Dr. Littman's laboratory is devoted to understanding how the human immune system develops the capacity to fight off infection and cancer. Dr. Littman is also investigating how HIV, the virus causing AIDS, evades a strong response by the immune system, thus allowing the virus to multiply and to persist in the body. By understanding how immune responses are elicited by infectious agents, and the mechanisms that microorganisms employ to evade such responses, Dr. Littman hopes to devise better strategies for developing vaccines and anti-microbial therapies.

His laboratory has identified and studied molecules on the surface of immune system cells that allow HIV to enter these cells. One of these molecules, called CD4, is present on a type of immune system cell called helper T cells, which are central in orchestrating immune responses against microbes. Dr. Littman's research has elucidated many functions of the CD4 molecule, including the role it plays in activating the helper T cell when it encounters a foreign antigen.

Dr. Littman received his undergraduate degree at Princeton University and completed the M.D./Ph.D. program at Washington University of St. Louis, where he worked with Benjamin Schwartz and Susan Cullen on the function of histocompatibility molecules in antigen presentation, a key feature of the immune system response to foreign invaders. He did his postdoctoral work in the laboratory of Richard Axel at Columbia University, where he isolated the genes for CD4 and CD8, another immune signaling molecule. Dr. Littman was Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at University of California, San Francisco, before joining New York University School of Medicine in 1995.

Born in Chicago, Professor Newman received B.S. degrees in mathematics and physics from MIT, and an M.A. and Ph.D. from Princeton in physics. He has published over 150 papers and articles. Beginning his academic career at NYU's University Heights campus in 1971, he went on to the mathematics departments of Indiana University and the University of Arizona, and returned to NYU in 1989. Professor Newman has been a Sloan Fellow (1978-81) and a Guggenheim Fellow (1984-85).

Professor Newman has made major contributions to the rigorous analysis of probabilistic models from statistical physics and other areas. His early work on Fourier transforms with only real zeros, motivated by connections between the Lee-Yang circle theorem for Ising models and the Riemann Hypothesis, has led to extensive numerical studies of the "deBruijn-Newman constant." In ecology, he studied Lyapunov exponent stability of model ecosystems and also created the cascade model of community food webs. In evolutionary biology, with Cohen and Kipnis, he provided a neo-Darwinian explanation for punctuated equilibria.

Much of Professor Newman's work has concerned the interconnection between geometry and critical exponents in percolation and related models: the triangle condition, with Aizenman, later used by Hara, Slade and others to prove exponent triviality in high dimension; the first proof of superdiffusivity in 2D polymer type models; scaling limits of 2D spanning trees, with Aizenman, Burchard and Wilson. His work in recent years on highly disordered models, on a novel metastate approach and on flaws in Parisi's replica-symmetry-breaking approach has re-energized the study of Edwards-Anderson spin glasses.

New York University, a member of the selective Association of American Universities, was established in 1831 and is one of America's leading research universities. Through its 14 schools and colleges, NYU conducts research and provides education in the arts and sciences, law, medicine, business, dentistry, education, nursing, the cinematic and dramatic arts, music, public administration, social work, and continuing and professional studies, among other areas.

(To obtain digital photos of Professor Newman or Dr. Littman, contact the NYU Office of Public Affairs at 212-998-6797.)

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