Protestant Named to Lead Science Academy

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 17, 2011 ( A retired professor from Switzerland has been asked to head the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, becoming the first Protestant to lead the Vatican’s science council. 

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The Vatican press office reported Saturday the appointment of Werner Arber, a former microbiology professor from the University of Basle. 

Arber was born in Granichen, Switzerland, in 1929. A molecular biologist, he received the Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine in 1978 together with Hamilton Smith and Daniel Nathans, for the discovery of restriction endonucleases. The development of recombinant DNA technology is based on their work. 

Arber’s main scientific interests are the mechanisms that promote and that limit the spontaneous variation of genetic information in microorganisms. 

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