Job Dekker, PhD, a UMass Chan Medical School scientist, was elected to the National Academy of Sciences on May 3 for his contributions to the field of genomics.
Dr. Dekker, a researcher at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Joseph J. Byrne Chair in Biomedical Researchprofessor of biochemistry, molecular pharmacology and systems biology, is one of the 120 newly elected members.
“I’m truly honored to have been elected,” Dekker said. “It is a wonderful recognition of the work of all the members of my laboratory and of our generous collaborators.”
The Dekker laboratory studies how a genome is organized in three dimensions inside the nucleus. Although DNA is composed of a linear sequence of bases, it does not exist inside the cell nucleus in a simple straight line. More like a ball of cooked spaghetti, the genome folds and loops back on itself to fit inside the tight confines of the nucleus. The form it takes has a profound influence on which genes in a cell are turned on or off and, therefore, health and disease. Many diseases, including cancer, are characterized by alterations in the spatial organization of the genome. This 3D architecture varies from one cell type to another and even between cell states.
To study this 3D structure, Dekker has developed technologies for chromosomal conformation capture, biochemical techniques for determining how DNA segments interact and relate to each other. This technology is at the heart of the ‘3C’, ‘5C’, ‘Hi-C’ and ‘Micro-C’ tools used by researchers around the world to map the structure and organization of chromosomes inside cells.
Dekker received his doctorate from Utrecht University in 1997 and joined UMass Chan in 2003. He was elected to the National Academy of Medicine in 2021.
The National Academy of Sciences was established by an act of Congress signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. Along with the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Medicine, it provides science policy advice, engineering and health to the federal government and other organizations. . There are now 2,512 active members and 517 international members.
The following UMass Chan faculty members have previously been elected to the academy:
- Catherine FitzgeraldPhD, the Worcester Foundation Chair for Biomedical ResearchProfessor of Medicine, Vice Chair for Research in the Department of Medicine and Director of the Innate Immunity Program;
- Nikolaus GrigorievPhD, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Researcher and Professor of RNA Therapeutics;
- Raul PadronPhD, professor of radiology;
- Roger J. DavisPhD, FRS, the Arthur Smith Chair in Cancer Research and President and Professor of Molecular Medicine;
- Craig C.MelloPhD, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Researcher, the Blais University Chair in Molecular Medicine, Emeritus Professor of RNA Therapy and Molecular Medicine;
- Victor R. AmbrosPhD, the Silverman Chair in Natural Sciences and Professor of Molecular Medicine; and
- Michael R. GreenMD, PhD, the Lambi and Sarah Adams Chair in Genetic Research, President and Professor of Molecular, Cellular, and Cancer Biology, Professor of Molecular Medicine, Vice Provost for Strategic Research Initiatives, Director of the UMass Cancer Center, and Co-Director of the Li Weibo Institute for Rare Disease Research.
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