June 8, 2000
Vol. 19 No. 18

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    Two professors appointed as Howard Hughes investigators

    By John Easton
    Medical Center Public Affairs

    The Howard Hughes Medical Institute has appointed two University scientists as Howard Hughes Investigators.

    Bruce Lahn, Assistant Professor in Human Genetics, and Daphne Preuss, Assistant Professor in Molecular Genetics & Cell Biology, will join seven current investigators at the University.

    An expert on the evolution of the X and Y chromosomes, Lahn and his colleagues published a paper in Science in October 1999 on how these chromosomes evolved in discrete steps over the course of 300 million years. In November 1999, Lahn was voted one of Technology Review Magazine’s TR100s, the publication’s end-of-the-century choice of the 100 most innovative young scientists. Recently, he was named a 2000 Searle Scholar by the Searle Scholars Program.

    He received his B.A. in biology from Harvard University in 1991 and his Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1998. While at MIT, Lahn defined a new human chromosomal syndrome referred to as “XY-xq” syndrome, which is associated with severe mental retardation. He also led efforts to map the entire human Y chromosome. He joined the Chicago faculty in 1999.

    Preuss’ research focuses on plant cell biology, and she is especially interested in plant pollination and the interaction between pollen and the female cells of flowers. Preuss uses genetic and biochemical approaches to identify the mechanisms that these cells use to recognize one another.

    In a paper published in the December 1999 issue of Science, Preuss and her colleagues defined the centromeres of the five chromosomes of Arabidopsis thaliana, a flowering plant that has become the primary model for plant genetics.

    A centromere is a part of a chromosome that ensures each dividing cell inherits the correct DNA.

    A former Packard Fellow who recently completed a three-year term as a Searle Scholar, Preuss received a B.S. in chemistry and a B.S. in natural science from the University of Denver in 1985. She received her Ph.D. from MIT in 1990.

    The Howard Hughes Medical Institute is a medical research organization that enters into long-term research collaboration agreements with universities and other academic research organizations where its investigators hold faculty appointments.