Gerald R. Fink
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Election Year: 1981
Primary Section: 26, Genetics
Membership Type: Member
Dr. Gerald R. Fink, Director of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research and American Cancer Society Professor of Genetics at MIT is known for his pioneering work in genetics. He has developed yeast as a model system for studying the basic molecular biology of eucaryotic organisms. He was the first to show that DNA could be taken up by yeast, leading to its stable transformation. He has identified and cloned genes that regulate the synthesis of amino acids (the basic building blocks of all protein molecules) and made major progress in understanding the genetic mechanisms regulating sexual reproduction. Several years ago, he discovered a way to make bakers' yeast mimic the invasive growth patterns of Candida albicans and other disease-producing fungi. His findings in bakers' yeast have generated an important new foundation for anti-fungal therapy. Dr. Fink also has been a leader in the development of a successful genetic model for plants based on the tiny flowering plant Arabidopsis thaliana. Using mutants, he has identified the mechanism of hormone signaling and key steps in the response of plants to gravity.