Lila’s research focus for decades has been protein folding, that is, how amino acid sequence determines the three-dimensional structure of a protein. She is particularly focused on how proteins fold in the cellular environment and the role of molecular chaperones in ensuring high fidelity in the folding process.
Lila says of her selection, “I am thrilled by this honor. The recognition of one’s contributions over a career by colleagues is truly gratifying.”
The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) is a private, non-profit society of distinguished scholars established by an Act of Congress signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. The academy is charged with providing independent, objective advice to the nation on matters related to science and technology. Scientists are elected by their peers to membership in the NAS for outstanding contributions to research.
NAS is committed to furthering science in America, and its members are active contributors to the international scientific community. Nearly 500 members of the NAS have won Nobel Prizes. This year’s group, which also includes 25 non-voting associate members, citizens of foreign countries, brings the total number of active members to 2,347 and the total number of foreign associates to 487. The society’s journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, founded in 1914, is one of the premier international journals publishing results of original research.
In 2018, Lila received the American Chemical Society’s Ralph F. Hirschmann Award in Peptide Chemistry for “her seminal contributions to peptide structure and function, peptide models for protein folding and function, and roles of peptide and protein aggregation in disease.” In 2016, she was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. That same year, the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology named her editor in chief of the Journal of Biological Chemistry, the society’s flagship journal, for a five-year term. In 2014, she was named to the National Institutes of Health Council of Councils, established to advise the NIH director on policies and activities of the Division of Program Coordination, Planning and Strategic Initiatives, which includes making recommendations on research that represents important areas of emerging scientific opportunities, rising public health challenges or knowledge gaps that deserve special emphasis or would otherwise benefit from strategic planning and coordination.