вторник, 26 апреля 2011 г.

Jack William Szostak (born November 9, 1952) is an American biologist of Polish British descent and Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School and Alexander Rich Distinguished Investigator at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston. He was awarded the 2009 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine, along with Elizabeth Blackburn and Carol W. Greider, for the discovery of how chromosomes are protected by telomeres.

1 Early life
2 Research
3 Awards and honors
4 Notes
5 References
6 See also
7 External links

Early life

Szostak grew up in Montreal and Ottawa. Although Szostak does not speak Polish, he stated in an interview with Wprost weekly that he remembers his Polish roots. He attended Riverdale High School (Quebec) and graduated at the age of 15 with the scholars prize. He graduated with a B.Sc in cell biology from McGill University at the age of 19. In 1970, as an undergraduate, he participated in The Jackson Laboratory's Summer Student Program under the mentorship of Dr. Chen K. Chai. He completed his PhD in biochemistry at Cornell University (advisor Prof. Ray Wu) before moving to Harvard Medical School to start his own lab at the Sydney Farber Cancer Institute. He credits Ruth Sager for giving him his job there when he had little yet to show. In 1984 Howard Goodman lured him away to Massachusetts General Hospital and the Department of Molecular Biology. He was granted tenure and a full professorship at Harvard Medical School in 1988.


Szostak has made contributions to the field of genetics. He is credited with the construction of the world's first yeast artificial chromosome. That achievement helped scientists to map the location of genes in mammals and to develop techniques for manipulating genes. His achievements in this area are also instrumental to the Human Genome Project.

His discoveries have helped to clarify the events that lead to chromosomal recombination—the reshuffling of genes that occurs during meiosis—and the function of telomeres, the specialized DNA sequences at the tips of chromosomes.

Currently, his lab focuses on the challenges of understanding the origin of life on Earth, and the construction of artificial cellular life in the laboratory.

Awards and honors

Szostak has received several awards and honors for his contributions. He is a member of National Academy of Sciences, American Academy of Arts and Sciences and New York Academy of Sciences. He has received the following awards:
United States National Academy of Sciences Award in Molecular Biology
Hans Sigrist Prize, University of Bern, Switzerland
Genetics Society of America Medal
The 2006 Lasker Award
The 2008 Dr A.H. Heineken Prize
The 2009 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine (shared with Elizabeth Blackburn and Carol W. Greider)

Jack W. Szostak
My laboratory is interested in the related challenges of understanding the origin of life on the early earth, and constructing synthetic cellular life in the laboratory.  Focusing on artificial life frees us to explore novel chemical systems, but what we learn from these systems helps us to understand possible pathways leading to the origin of life.  Our basic design for a synthetic cell involves the encapsulation of a spontaneously replicating nucleic acid, which acts as the genetic material, within a spontaneously replicating membrane boundary, which provides spatial localization.  We are using chemical synthesis to make nucleic acids with modified nucleobases and sugar-phosphate backbones.  Our goal is generate a nucleic acid system that can replicate accurately and rapidly, without enzymatic assistance.  We have developed a membrane vesicle system that allows for the repeated growth and division of the vesicles, without the involvement of any biochemical machinery. When we combine the nucleic and membrane systems, we can see limited nucleic acid replication within our membrane vesicles.  Once we achieve repeated cycles of replication of the combined system, we expect to see evolutionary forces come into play, leading to the spontaneous emergence of nucleic acid sequences that contribute to the fitness of the artificial cell.  We are now considering the kinds of innovations could most easily arise and confer a selective advantage at the cellular level.    

Subject areas for rotation projects:
1) Explore prebiotic nucleic acid replication using a chemical model system.
2) Explore the biophysics of our replicating vesicles system.