C. David Allis Named Wilson Professor Of Biology

July 25, 1997

C. David Allis, an internationally recognized expert in molecular and cell biology at the University of Rochester, has been named the Marie Curran Wilson and Joseph Chamberlain Wilson Professor of Biology.

Allis' research is offering new insights into one of biology's most fundamental, yet enigmatic, questions -- how genes are turned on and off in organisms ranging from fruit flies to humans. His findings on this step, crucial to the development of all living things, have caught the attention of scientists around the world.

"David Allis is an extraordinary scientist, whose unbridled enthusiasm for his own work is a model for both faculty colleagues and students," says Thomas LeBlanc, dean of the College faculty. "We are extremely proud that he is a member of our faculty."

Allis is one of several biologists at the University looking at a process that has long perplexed scientists. While all of an organism's cells carry the same genetic information in their DNA, only a small portion is used by any given cell, because cells turn on only the genes they need. The mechanism underpinning this genetic wizardry has largely remained a mystery.

Through its groundbreaking work with a class of enzymes known as histone acetyltransferases, or HATs, Allis' research group has discovered the strongest evidence so far linking gene activation to the uncoiling of the tightly wound form in which DNA is usually stored, a finding that helps scientists understand viral infectious diseases and cancer. Alan Wolffe, a widely recognized DNA expert, ranked these findings as "some of the most exciting in the field in the last 10 years."

Allis' lab also examines the intracellular structures called organelles that carry out a cell's functions. In work published last year, the group discovered a new cellular structure dubbed a "dumposome" in the one-celled organism Tetrahymena. The dumposome works like a genetic garbage disposal and may even be a distinct organelle.

Allis credits much of his success to his very supportive family and to hard-working and talented research associates. "Among the best rewards of my work are the people and students I've had the privilege of working with over the years," says Allis.

Allis has co-authored more than 100 scientific papers; the 30 papers he's written in his two years at Rochester have been published in such prestigious journals as the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, Cell, and Nature. His research is currently supported by $2.5 million in grants from the National Institutes of Health and the Human Frontier Science Program. He is already scheduled to speak at 40 seminars and symposia around the world through 1999.

Allis graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Cincinnati and holds a master's degree and Ph.D. from Indiana University. From 1978 to 1981 he conducted postdoctoral research at Rochester. Before returning to the University as a professor two years ago, Allis served on the faculties of Baylor College of Medicine and Syracuse University, which recognized his outstanding graduate teaching with numerous awards. At Rochester Allis teaches an introductory cell biology course and advanced courses in the structure and function of organelles.

The Wilson professorship in biology is one of six University chairs funded since 1967 by the Wilson family. Joseph Chamberlain Wilson was a Rochester graduate who went on to become chairman and chief executive officer of Xerox Corporation. He served as chair of the University's Board of Trustees from 1959 to 1967, when he became honorary chair until his death in 1971.
-end-


University of Rochester

Related DNA Articles from Brightsurf:

A new twist on DNA origami
A team* of scientists from ASU and Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU) led by Hao Yan, ASU's Milton Glick Professor in the School of Molecular Sciences, and director of the ASU Biodesign Institute's Center for Molecular Design and Biomimetics, has just announced the creation of a new type of meta-DNA structures that will open up the fields of optoelectronics (including information storage and encryption) as well as synthetic biology.

Solving a DNA mystery
''A watched pot never boils,'' as the saying goes, but that was not the case for UC Santa Barbara researchers watching a ''pot'' of liquids formed from DNA.

Junk DNA might be really, really useful for biocomputing
When you don't understand how things work, it's not unusual to think of them as just plain old junk.

Designing DNA from scratch: Engineering the functions of micrometer-sized DNA droplets
Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) have constructed ''DNA droplets'' comprising designed DNA nanostructures.

Does DNA in the water tell us how many fish are there?
Researchers have developed a new non-invasive method to count individual fish by measuring the concentration of environmental DNA in the water, which could be applied for quantitative monitoring of aquatic ecosystems.

Zigzag DNA
How the cell organizes DNA into tightly packed chromosomes. Nature publication by Delft University of Technology and EMBL Heidelberg.

Scientists now know what DNA's chaperone looks like
Researchers have discovered the structure of the FACT protein -- a mysterious protein central to the functioning of DNA.

DNA is like everything else: it's not what you have, but how you use it
A new paradigm for reading out genetic information in DNA is described by Dr.

A new spin on DNA
For decades, researchers have chased ways to study biological machines.

From face to DNA: New method aims to improve match between DNA sample and face database
Predicting what someone's face looks like based on a DNA sample remains a hard nut to crack for science.

Read More: DNA News and DNA Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.