UVM Cancer Researcher Frances Carr Elected AAAS Fellow

February 16, 2022 by Jennifer Nachbur

Frances Carr, Ph.D., professor of pharmacology at the Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont and UVM Cancer Center member, has been elected to the American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellows Class of 2021.

Frances Carr, Ph.D., Professor of Pharmacology. (Courtesy photo)

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)—the world’s largest general scientific society and publisher of the Science family of journals—recently announced the election of the newest class of AAAS Fellows, among the most distinct honors within the scientific community. Frances Carr, Ph.D., professor of pharmacology at the Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont and UVM Cancer Center member, is one of 564 scientists, engineers, and innovators in the AAAS Fellows Class of 2021. In being elected a Fellow, she joins a prestigious tradition that dates back to 1874.

AAAS recognized Carr “for distinguished contributions to the field of thyroid hormone biology and pathology, and for exemplary leadership positions in two universities and major contributions to science policy for U.S. government agencies.” Carr has held diverse academic and government positions encompassing the breadth of fundamental research and international science policy. She and the other 2021 Fellows will be honored during an induction ceremony to be held during the AAAS Annual Meeting (date not yet determined).

Well known AAAS Fellows include pioneering sociologist, civil rights activist, and co-founder of the NAACP, W. E. B. Du Bois, Ph.D.; veteran astronaut Ellen Ochoa, Ph.D., the Johnson Space Center’s first Hispanic and second woman director in its history; and Nobel Laureate in Physics and policymaker Steven Chu, Ph.D., who served as the 12th U.S. Secretary of Energy.

“Dr. Frances Carr is a highly respected scientist and educator who has been instrumental in development of programs to advance science and has provided leadership by example,” stated a colleague of Carr’s in a nomination letter to the AAAS.

Carr’s commitment to the advancement of science is reflected in her international role in promoting science policy and efforts to engage the public in science, through such venues as Rotary International, Kiwanis, Science Friday, Voice of America, and various invited presentations. Throughout her career in diverse government and academic positions, Carr has mentored faculty, clinical scholars, AAAS fellows, as well as graduate and undergraduate students.

In 2003, Carr joined UVM as vice president for research and dean of the Graduate College. She joined the Larner faculty as a professor of pharmacology in 2005. In addition to serving on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences, she was named senior science advisor to the Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development during the Clinton Administration. Immediately prior to joining UVM, she was vice president for research and economic development at Binghamton University-SUNY.

An international expert in the area of thyroid hormone biology in development and tumor formation, Carr and her team study the fundamental genomic and epigenomic mechanisms of thyroid hormone receptors (TR) and their action to suppress tumor progression in hormone-dependent cancers. Among her lab’s accomplishments is the establishment of the TRβ tumor suppression programs in anaplastic thyroid and triple negative breast cancers, revealing novel therapeutic targets and possible biomarkers for early detection. The most recent studies demonstrated that activation of TRβ with (isoform selective) agonists induce a less aggressive phenotype, redifferentiation of the tumor cells, reduced tumor growth and increased effectiveness of therapeutic inhibitors in both thyroid and breast cancers. These discoveries led to paradigm-shifting concepts of the potential use of TRβ selective agonists in enhancing the efficacy of therapeutics in these and other cancers.

Carr holds a Ph.D., in physiology & biophysics/molecular endocrinology from the University of Illinois Medical Center in Chicago, completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the Division of Endocrinology at the University of Minnesota, and did a research fellowship in medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School prior to her academic appointments.

UVM Larner College of Medicine Dean Richard L. Page, M.D., says, “Dr. Carr’s important work has made an impact in multiple areas of the scientific community, including research, government policy, academic administration, and mentoring. The Larner College of Medicine joins Dr. Carr in celebrating this well-deserved honor.”

View the full list of AAAS 2021 Fellows.


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