Chinese American Heroines: Alice S. Huang

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Today’s Asian American Heroine: Alice S. Huang
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Name in English: Alice S. Huang
Name in Chinese: 黄诗厚 [黃詩厚]
Name in Pinyin: Huáng Shīhòu
Gender: Female
Birth Year: 1939
Birth Place: Nanchang, China
Philanthropy: Yes
Profession (s): Professor; Virologist, International Consultant
Education: B.A., Johns Hopkins University; M.A., Johns Hopkins University; PhD, Microbiology, 1966, Johns Hopkins University

Award(s): 1977, Eli Lilly Award in Immunology and Microbiology from the
American Society for Microbiology; 1999, Achievement Award from the Chinese-American Faculty Association of Southern California; 2001, the Alice C. Evans Award from the American Society for Microbiology.

Contribution(s): World renowned virologist. Dr. Alice Huang is a Senior Faculty Associate in Biology at the California Institute of Technology. She previously was a Professor of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics at Harvard Medical School, and Dean of Science at New York University. She consults on science policy for the governments of Singapore, Taiwan, China, and the US through its National Academy of Sciences and National Aeronautics & Space Agency. She was elected President of the Amerian Society for Microbiology in 1988 and served through 1989.

As a graduate student, Dr. Huang was the first to purify and characterize defective interfering viral particles. Her discoveries have helped research on plant viruses. She helped then future husband David Baltimore uncover a virion-associated RNA-dependent RNA polymerase, which led to his discovery of reverse transcriptase, which resulted in his award of the Nobel Prize for Medicine and Physiology. She also studies natural mutations, with a focus on the AIDS virus.

Dr. Huang was an Assistant Professor of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics at Harvard Medical School in 1971. She also served as coordinator of the Virology Unit at the Channing Laboratories of Infectious Diseases. She worked on a training program for “Virus-Host Interactions in Cancer.” She became a professor at Harvard in 1979, and Director of Laboratories of Infectious Diseases at Children’s Hospital in Boston where she established a unit working on viral diseases of pediatric patients. She is interested in interndisciplinary biological research. Huang is also a member of the Committee of 100.

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