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Stephen Alexander Named 2013 AAAS Fellow

Nov. 29, 2012

Stephen Alexander elected Fellow of the AAAS

Columbia, MO – University of Missouri researcher Stephen Alexander, a professor of biological sciences, has been awarded the distinction of AAAS fellow for his “distinguished contributions to the understanding of the molecular basis of drug resistance using model organisms and for major contributions to the study of glycosylation,” according to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) news release.

Election as a fellow of the AAAS is an honor bestowed upon members by their peers for their scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science. New fellows will be honored at the 2013 AAAS annual meeting in Boston.

Alexander is well known for his research using Dictyostelium discoideum as a model organism for studying multicellular development, cell biology, and human diseases. He is recognized for studying the function of lectin proteins in cellular development and motility. His studies on how spore cells differentiate are recognized as some of the earliest “proteomic” studies conducted and for having provided important insights into how cells can store and secrete proteins in a developmentally regulated fashion.

Alexander’s studies of how Dictylostelium cells respond to DNA damage and oxidative stress laid the foundation for analysis of resistance of tumors to the widely used anti-cancer drug cisplatin. His studies led to the discovery that an enzyme called sphingosine-1-phosphate lyase regulates whether cells respond to cisplatin, and that modulation of this enzyme can be used to increase the efficacy of the drug in therapy. He has since validated and extended these studies in human cells.

A native of Chicago, Alexander received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign and his doctorate from Brandeis University. His postdoctoral studies included four years at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute at the Harvard Medical School in Boston followed by seven years as a junior faculty member at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif. In 1987, Alexander joined the faculty in the Division of Biological Sciences at MU, where he teaches undergraduate- and graduate-level courses on cancer biology. He has trained many successful graduate students and co-directs the division’s graduate education program. Alexander is also the recipient of an American Cancer Society Faculty Research Award.

Alexander is among 702 AAAS fellows elected this year, five of whom are from the University of Missouri.


AAAS is the world’s largest general scientific society and publisher of the journal Science. The organization was founded in 1848, and the tradition of electing fellows began in 1874.

Related story: MU biological sciences professor recognized for work with cancer cells, Missourian, December 5, 2012

Related research strengths:
Cell Biology, Development, Molecular Biology
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