My lab has studied the mechanisms responsible for switching genes on and off in the early Drosophila embryo for over 30 years. These studies led to the characterization of the eve stripe 2 enhancer, short-range repression, and the regulation of long-range enhancer-promoter interactions.
During the past 10 years my lab has also examined cellular morphogenesis in the tadpole of the simple chordate, the sea squirt Ciona intestinalis. Most of these studies have focused on the evolutionary origins of key vertebrate innovations such as the multi-chambered heart, neural crest, and cranial placodes. We also use electroporation-mediated transgenesis of Ciona embryos to conduct high-throughput studies of developmental enhancers that mediate tissue-specific patterns of gene expression.
I was Professor of Genetics at UC Berkeley from 1996 to 2015, and Chairman of the Chancellor’s Advisory Council for Biology 2012-2015. I was Head of the Division of Genetics, Genomics and Development from 2007-2011 and served as Acting Director of the Functional Genomics Program at the Joint Genome Institute (DOE) in 2001. I moved to Princeton in July 2015, where I am the Director of the Lewis-Sigler Institute and Professor of Molecular Biology.
I obtained a BA in Genetics from UC Berkeley in 1976 and a PhD in Biophysics & Biochemistry from Yale in 1981. I was a postdoc in Basel, Switzerland in 1982-1983 where I was a co-discoverer of the homeobox. I was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1998. I received the Molecular Biology Award from the National Academy of Sciences in 1996, the Wilbur Cross Medal from Yale University in 2009, and the Conklin Medal from the Society of Developmental Biology in 2015.
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