Two Yale professors were among the 72 new members elected to the National Academy of Sciences yesterday, one of the highest honors that can be awarded to an American scientist or engineer.

Richard Flavell, the chairman of the Department of Immunology at the School of Medicine, and Jennifer Doudna, a professor in the Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, were both selected for their seminal contributions to their respective fields of research.

There are currently 1,907 active members in the academy, which serves upon request as an official adviser to the federal government in any matter of science or technology.

Doudna’s research centers on the molecular structure and function of catalytic RNAs — the understanding of which could ultimately lead to the design of novel small-molecule inhibitors — and new anti-viral therapies.

Flavell focuses on the molecular mechanisms of the immune system and their applications to autoimmune diseases.

–Andrew Dervan