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Faculty named Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Three scientists from the University of Illinois Chicago have been elected 2022 Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, one of the top honors within the scientific community.

Giamila Fantuzzi, Jan Kitajewski and Lijun Rong are among the more than 500 scientists, engineers and innovators who have been recognized for their scientifically and socially distinguished achievements by the world’s largest general scientific society and publisher of the Science family of journals.

Kitajewski, the Sweeney Professor of Basic Sciences and head of physiology and biophysics in the College of Medicine and director of the University of Illinois Cancer Center, was recognized for his distinguished contributions to the field of vascular biology, particularly in the area of cell signaling involving a specific protein receptor — the notch receptor — as it relates to development and disease.

His research is focused on tumor angiogenesis, inflammation, metastasis and vascular development, with notable achievements in identifying novel signaling pathways that control blood vessel formation or angiogenesis.

Kitajewski’s lab has explored the notch signaling cascade and determined how cell-fate determination mediated by notch and VEGF guides the proper construction of the vasculature. His lab established that notch functions in tumor angiogenesis, and they developed therapeutic strategies to treat gynecological malignancies and breast cancer. His recent studies are shedding new light on the process of cancer metastasis and health equity research.

Rong, professor of microbiology and immunology in the College of Medicine, was recognized for distinguished contributions to the field of virology, particularly for elucidating virus entry mechanisms and antiviral therapeutics.

His research is focused on a number of viruses with high prevalence to human health, including influenza virus, Ebola virus, SARS-CoV-2 and henipaviruses. He is studying the entry and replication mechanisms of these highly pathogenic viruses with pandemic potential, and he, in collaboration with other scientists at UIC and other institutions, is developing effective antivirals against these viruses.

Rong has more than 130 publications and his research has been generously supported by the National Institutes of Health and private foundations like the Gates Foundation.

Fantuzzi, professor of kinesiology and director of graduate studies at the College of Applied Health Sciences, was elected for her distinguished contributions to the field of adipose cell and cytokine biology, particularly in the study of inflammation and inflammatory pathologies.

Fantuzzi’s background is in biology, neuroimmunology, endocrinology and infectious diseases. Her research concerns the molecules involved in the regulation of obesity and inflammation, particularly in diseases like acute pancreatitis.

Fantuzzi is listed among the Top Italian Woman Scientists, a ranking of distinguished female Italian biomedical researchers.

A tradition dating back to 1874, election as an AAAS Fellow is a lifetime honor, and all fellows are expected to meet the commonly held standards of professional ethics and scientific integrity.