Welsh elected to prestigious scientific society, AAAS

By Jim Fessenden

UMass Medical School Communications

January 21, 2011

welshphoto   Raymond M. Welsh

Raymond M. Welsh, PhD, professor of pathology and molecular genetics & microbiology, has been elected by his peers as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world’s largest general scientific society and publisher of the journal Science.

Dr. Welsh was elected for his contributions to the understanding of viral immunology, particularly in regard to viral infection and induction of disease, and to activation of cytotoxic immune response components under different conditions of viral infections. 

A member of the Immunology and Virology Program and the Center for AIDS Research (CFAR) at UMMS, Welsh joined UMass Medical School in 1980 from the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif. In 35 years of studying the basic mechanisms of viral immunology and immunopathology, Welsh has described a number of unique discoveries that have furthered scientific knowledge in the field, including the activation and role of natural killer cells in viral infection, how apoptosis, or programmed cell death, is key to the immune response, and that immune T cells have an “immunological memory” that can be lost in the face of other infections. 

In 2004, the National Institutes of Health awarded Welsh a highly selective, 10-year, $4 million Method to Extend Research in Time, or MERIT, Award, presented to investigators who are highly regarded in their field and have excellent records of scientific productivity, for his research in immunity and viral disease. Among his lab’s current projects is one that is exploring how the immune response elicited by one virus may alter the pathogenesis of disease initiated by a second, unrelated virus. 

Welsh received his PhD from the UMass Amherst in 1972 and conducted his postdoctoral training at the University of Kansas at Lawrence and the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif. 

Welsh is among more than 500 AAAS members who have been named fellows this year because of their scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications. New fellows will be presented with an official certificate and a rosette pin of gold and blue (representing science and engineering, respectively) on Saturday, Feb. 19, at the AAAS Fellows Forum during the 2011 AAAS Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. 

Welsh joins other distinguished UMMS faculty who are AAAS Fellows including: 

• Gary S. Stein, PhD, the Gerald L. Haidak, MD, and Zelda S. Haidak Professor of Cell Biology and chair and professor of cell biology 
• Thoru Pederson, PhD, the Vitold Arnett Professor of Cell Biology and professor of biochemistry & molecular pharmacology 
• C. Robert Matthews, PhD, the Arthur F. and Helen P. Koskinas Professor of Biochemistry & Molecular Pharmacology and chair and professor of biochemistry & molecular pharmacology