Zachary B. Lippman

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory


Primary Section: 62, Plant, Soil, and Microbial Sciences
Secondary Section: 25, Plant Biology
Membership Type: Member (elected 2021)

Biosketch

Zachary B. Lippman is the Jacob Goldfield Professor of Genetics and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. He is recognized for his pioneering work in plant genetics and genome editing. His research has shown how the genes controlling stem cell production and maturation guide flower and fruit production in tomato and related species. Lippman grew up in Milford, CT, and his undergraduate degree was from Cornell University (2000) in Plant Biology and Genetics where he achieved research honors (with Steven Tanksley). His Ph.D. is from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (2005) where he studied transposons and heterochromatin (with Robert Martienssen). As a Human Frontier Science Program Postdoctoral Fellow at Hebrew University he discovered how flowering genes control plant architecture and hybrid vigor (with Dani Zamir). He joined the Cold Spring Harbor faculty in 2008, and his research program integrates genetics, genomics, development, and genome editing to translate fundamental discoveries in plant development to crop improvement, including strategies to engineer quantitative trait variation. He has served on academic and editorial boards, was named a MacArthur Fellow (2019), received the NAS Prize in Food and Agricultural Sciences (2020), and has been recognized for excellence in teaching. 

Research Interests

Zach Lippman’s group is interested in the genetic complexities underlying trait variation within and between species, and in translating those discoveries to agriculture. His group focuses on mechanisms controlling plant reproductive development by studying stem cell production and maturation. This work has revealed how complex interactions between gene mutations and altered gene dosage through cis-regulatory mutations contribute to quantitative trait variation in evolution, domestication, and breeding. Lippman’s group has used genome editing to dissect the genetics of flowering, plant and inflorescence architecture, and fruit production, and also to dissect the cis-regulatory control of developmental genes for both fundamental research and crop improvement. This work has led to approaches that can accelerate domestication of wild species, improve orphan crops, and customize fruit crops for urban agriculture. His research and discoveries on the genes, mechanisms, and principles behind trait diversity have led to broader investigations into the importance of structural variation, gene regulation, and epistasis in many other crops. Lippman and his laboratory continue to leverage these fundamental discoveries to develop and apply innovative concepts and tools for crop improvement.

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