Anne M. Villeneuve

Stanford University

Primary Section: 26, Genetics
Secondary Section: 22, Cellular and Developmental Biology
Membership Type: Member (elected 2017)


Anne Villeneuve is a geneticist recognized for her research on the mechanisms governing chromosome inheritance during meiosis, the specialized cell division program that gives rise to sperm and eggs. Her long-standing interest in sexual reproduction began during her PhD research on sex determination and dosage compensation in the Department of Biology at MIT. She moved to Stanford University in 1989 as an Independent Fellow in the Department of Developmental Biology, where she initiated her research on meiosis. Dr. Villeneuve joined the Stanford faculty in 1995 and is currently a Professor of Developmental Biology and Genetics in the Stanford University School of Medicine. Research from Dr. Villeneuve's lab and those of her former trainees has been instrumental in establishing the nematode C. elegans as one of the premier experimental systems for investigating chromosome dynamics and genetic recombination during meiosis. Dr. Villeneuve has served as Secretary of the Genetics Society of America and is a Research Professor of the American Cancer Society. She was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2016 before being elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2017.

Research Interests

Anne Villeneuve's laboratory investigates the molecular and cellular events underlying the faithful inheritance of chromosomes during meiosis, the specialized cell division program by which diploid organisms generate haploid gametes. These events are crucial for reproduction, since failure to execute them correctly leads to aneuploidy, one of the leading causes of miscarriages and birth defects in humans. One major goal is to understand the mechanisms and regulation of genetic recombination, which is responsible both for reassortment of genetic traits and for promoting segregation of homologous chromosomes during meiosis. An inter-related goal is to understand how meiosis-specific chromosome organization is established, maintained, and remodeled to bring about successful genome inheritance. Dr. Villeneuve approaches these issues using the nematode C. elegans, a simple organism that is especially amenable to combining sophisticated microscopic, genetic and genomic approaches in a single experimental system. Dr. Villeneuve's research interrogates the process of meiosis at multiple different scales: 1) at the level of the DNA repair complexes that assemble at the sites of meiotic recombination; 2) at the level of the meiosis-specific chromosome structures that promote, regulate and respond to meiotic recombination events and 3) at the level of DNA organization at the whole-chromosome scale.

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