Two Decorated Brandeis Faculty Awarded National Medal of Science by President Biden

Gregory Petsko and President Joseph Biden enlarge

Gregory Petsko and President Joseph Biden

The following news release was originally issued by Brandeis University. Gregory Petsko, who was recently awarded the National Medal of Science by President Biden, is a longtime user of the National Synchrotron Light Source (NSLS) and its successor the National Synchrotron Light Source II (NSLS-II), both U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science User Facilities at DOE’s Brookhaven National Laboratory, where he pioneered the field of structural enzymology. For more information on Brookhaven’s role in this research, contact Denise Yazak (, 631-344-6371).

Pioneering neuroscientist Eve Marder ’69 and Professor of Biochemistry and Chemistry Emeritus Gregory Petsko have each received the National Medal of Science, the highest recognition the nation bestows on scientists and engineers.

The awards were announced by President Biden at a ceremony at the White House on October 24.

“Both of these remarkable individuals have conducted significant scientific research that has had a major impact on repairing the world, and both have trained generations of Brandeisians to go out and do the same,” said Brandeis President Ron Liebowitz, who was at the White House to attend the awards ceremony. “Eve and Greg have dedicated much of their careers to our university, and for that, I am deeply grateful.”

Marder, the Victor and Gwendolyn Beinfield Professor of Neuroscience and a University Professor, was honored for “her visionary application of theoretical and experimental approaches to understanding neural circuits; and her inspirational advocacy of basic science,” according to a press release from National Science and Technology Medals Foundation (NSTMF).

Eve Marder and President Joseph Biden enlarge

Professor Eve Marder stands with President Joseph Biden in a ceremony at the White House.

Currently at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Petsko, who is a member of Brandeis’ Board of Trustees, was recognized “for advancing our understanding of neurodegenerative diseases like ALS, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s,” the NSTMF press release said.

“His role in founding structural enzymology, along with his commitment to educating the public about brain health, have empowered people around the world and raised the ambitions of our nation regarding aging with dignity,” the release added.

Marder joined the Brandeis faculty as an assistant professor in 1978 and remained on the faculty ever since. She has revolutionized scientists’ understanding of neuronal circuit operation, including how neuromodulators, chemicals that alter the activity of neurons, affect an organism’s behavior. She studies a small network of 30 neurons in the nervous system of lobsters and crabs, which she realized early in her career could serve as a model for understanding the basic properties common to all brains.

She has received numerous prestigious prizes, including the Gruber Prize, the Kavli Prize, and the National Academy of Sciences Award. She served as president of the Society for Neuroscience as well as on the working group for President Obama’s BRAIN Initiative. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, and the Institute of Medicine.

Last month, she received the 2023 Pearl Meister Greengard Prize, which recognizes outstanding women scientists.

Petsko’s research concerns the three-dimensional structures of proteins and their biochemical functions. His public lectures on the aging of the population and its implications for human health have attracted a wide audience, including a TED Talk that has been viewed over 900,000 times.

He has collaborated extensively with Professor of Biochemistry and Chemistry Emerita Dagmar Ringe.

His awards include the Sidhu Award and the Martin J. Buerger Award, both from the American Crystallographic Association, the Pfizer Award in Enzyme Chemistry from the American Chemical Society, the Lynen Medal, and the Max Planck Research Award.

He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society.


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