Scott J. Hultgren, PhD, the Helen L. Stoever Professor of Molecular Microbiology, and Lilianna Solnica-Krezel, PhD, the Alan A. and Edith L. Wolff Distinguished Professor and head of the Department of Developmental Biology — both faculty members at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis — are among nearly 270 newly elected members of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, one of the nation’s most prestigious honorary societies.
Founded in 1780, the academy honors exceptional scholars, leaders, artists and innovators and engages them in sharing knowledge and addressing challenges facing the world. The 2023 members were announced April 19.
Hultgren is recognized for his pioneering research in nonantibiotic treatments and preventives for urinary tract infections (UTIs), one of the most common infections.
Current therapies use antibiotics to kill bacteria in the urinary tract, but they are often ineffective and can promote drug resistance. Hultgren’s investigations of the bacterial and host mechanisms underlying UTIs have led to the identification of alternative therapies based on preventing bacteria from causing disease without killing the bacteria. Among such alternatives is an investigational vaccine that has completed phase 1a/1b clinical trials and that has been cleared by the Food and Drug Administration for compassionate use in patients with multidrug-resistant UTI caused by E. coli.
Also the director of Washington University’s Center for Women’s Infectious Disease Research, Hultgren co-founded Fimbrion Therapeutics, which is developing decoy sugars known as mannosides for use as nonlethal antimicrobials to eliminate bacteria from the urinary tract. These compounds are in phase 1 clinical trials. He is also a co-founder of QureTech Bio, which is working to develop first-line drugs to combat infectious diseases and prevent antibiotic resistance.
Hultgren is also an elected member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the National Academy of Medicine, the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Inventors.
Solnica-Krezel is an expert in understanding the earliest stages of embryonic development in vertebrates, with special expertise in studying zebrafish as a model organism.
Studying zebrafish, Solnica-Krezel’s team works to understand gastrulation — when various tissues first arise and are arranged into the body plan. Also working with human stem cells, her team investigates whether key developmental processes in zebrafish also are relevant in people. Her research may help better understand miscarriage, birth defects, cancer and other genetic disorders.
Solnica-Krezel led efforts to establish one of the largest and most technologically advanced zebrafish research facilities in the world, helping make Washington University a leader in the field of developmental biology. She also co-founded the university’s Center of Regenerative Medicine.
Solnica-Krezel is a past president of the International Zebrafish Society and the Society for Developmental Biology. She also has received the Edwin G. Conklin Medal from the Society for Developmental Biology and the Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard Award from the European Zebrafish Society in recognition of her outstanding contributions to the field, both as a research scientist and as a mentor helping train the next generation of developmental biologists. She also received the university’s Carl & Gerty Cori Faculty Achievement Award in 2021.