For nearly 30 years my lab has studied the mechanisms responsible for switching genes on and off in the early Drosophila embryo. 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 and head sensory systems.
I’ve been a Professor of Genetics at UC Berkeley since 1996 and Chairman of the Chancellor’s Advisory Council for Biology since 2012. 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. Prior to that I held faculty positions at Columbia University and UCSD, and was a Visiting Professor of Zoology at the University of Zurich from 1999-2000.
I obtained a BA in Genetics from UC Berkeley in 1976 and a PhD in Molecular 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 with Bill McGinnis and Ernst Hafen. 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 and the Wilbur Cross Medal from Yale University in 2009. I am coauthor of the Watson et al. textbook, Molecular Biology of the Gene.
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