Rutgers Professor Helen Berman elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Helen Berman, a professor emerita of chemistry and chemical biology at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Berman, a Princeton resident, is among 213 people elected to the academy this year, including author Ta-Nehisi Coates, actor Tom Hanks, President Barack Obama, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, gene editing developer Feng Zhang, and pediatric neurologist Huda Zoghbi.

The newly elected academy members include 36 international honorary members from 20 countries. They will be inducted at a ceremony in October in Cambridge, Mass.

Founded in 1780, the academy honors scholars, leaders, artists and innovators. The academy offers recommendations to advance the public good in the arts, citizenship, education, energy, government, the humanities, international relations, science and more.

In 1971, Berman co-founded the Protein Data Bank– the international archive of the structures of biological macromolecules. She directed the Research Collaboratory for Structural Bioinformatics Protein Data Bank, a member of the Worldwide Protein Data Bank, from 1998 to 2014. Berman, who worked in the School of Arts and Sciences, plays a leadership role for the Electron Microscopy Data Resource. Currently she is making documentary films that communicate the importance of structural biology in medicine and health.

During her nearly 50-year career, Berman has won numerous honors. She is a fellow of the International Society for Computational Biology, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Biophysical Society, and the American Crystallographic Association. She received the distinguished service award from the Biophysical Society in 2000; the Carl Brändén Award from the Protein Society in 2012; the DeLano Award for Computational Biosciences from the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in 2013; and the Benjamin Franklin Award for Open Access in the Life Sciences in 2014.

Berman was raised in Brooklyn and studied chemistry at Barnard College before earning a doctorate at the University of Pittsburgh. She worked at Fox Chase Cancer Center for 20 years, researching nucleic acid crystallography and drug nucleic acid interactions. She moved to Rutgers in 1989.


  1. Helen is the real deal. An honor much deserved. And so much more so than her fellow inductees.

  2. As someone who went through RU’s Chemistry department, this is a well

    deserved honor to Dr. Berman. That being said, Tom Hanks, Barack Obama,
    and Justice Sotomayor have no business being inducted into the National
    Academy of Sciences.

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