NEW YORK, June 8, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Ronald W. Davis, PhD, a pioneer in innovative biotechnologies, particularly the development and practical application of recombinant DNA and genomic methods to biological organisms, will receive the 2011 Genetics Prize of The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation.
Davis, 69, has spent most of his professional life at Stanford University, where he is a professor of biochemistry and genetics. He also serves as director of the Stanford Genome Technology Center, a position he has held since 1994.
He will receive the award on October 13 in Montreal, during the annual meeting of the American Society of Human Genetics, which is being held in conjunction with the 12th International Congress of Human Genetics. Davis will also deliver a lecture at the conference.
"Ron Davis' innovations have resulted in remarkable advances in modern molecular genetics. I am delighted that he is the 2011 Gruber Genetics Prize recipient," says Gruber and Nobel laureate Elizabeth Blackburn, the Morris Herzstein Professor of Biology and Physiology in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of California, San Francisco.
Davis' impact on biomedical research has been broad and profound. In 1968, while still a graduate student at the California Institute of Technology, he developed one of the first mapping methods for DNA, as well as heteroduplex technology, which made imaging the pairing of two genomes possible. After he moved to Stanford in 1972, Davis created some of the earliest cloning vectors - DNA molecules that carry foreign DNA into a host cell, where the foreign DNA can then be replicated.
A string of other technologies and discoveries quickly followed. Working on the genome and biology of Saccaharomyces cerevisiae (baker's yeast), Davis' lab developed the first artificially constructed chromosomes, which are now routinely used to clone large genes and to map complex genomes. In 1979, Davis co-authored a seminal paper that described the very first case of what is now known as genome editing, the ability to replace any nucleotide in the yeast genome with any other nucleotide.
In 1980, in another landmark paper - one of the most highly cited in the field of human genetics - Davis and his team described how sequence variants in the genomes of humans and other species could provide genetic markers for making a genetic and physical map of the human genome. That paper helped launch the field of genomics. A few years later, Davis' lab showed how DNA libraries could be searched with protein-finding antibodies, a technique that has made it possible for scientists to identify genes for important proteins, including in humans.
During the 1990s, Davis contributed to the development of the very first microarrays, tools that enable scientists to analyze the gene expression of thousands of genes simultaneously. He then went on to help standardize this technology, paving the way for other scientists to use it for clinical applications. In recent years, his lab had produced sequences of several yeast chromosomes, part of the Escherichia coli genome, part of the Arabidopsis thalialiana genome (Arabidopsis is a plant widely used in the study of genetics), part of the human genome, and part of the genome of Plasmodium falciparu (a parasite that causes malaria in humans). Davis continues to develop new biotechnologies. DNA nanotechnology is a particular current focus.
"I really enjoy working on problems that others think are unsolvable," he says.
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|SOURCE The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation|
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