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Elaine Fuchs' research focuses on understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying development and differentiation of the mammalian skin epidermis and its appendages, and how these processes go awry in various human diseases of the skin, including genetic diseases and skin cancer. She utilizes mammalian stem cell cultures and gene-knockout technology as model systems. She is known for her unconventional use of "reverse genetics" in her research, where she typically begins with a protein and works her way to the underlying basis of a human genetic disorder. Fuchs received her B.A. in Chemistry from the University of Illinois, her Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Princeton University, and her advanced training in skin biology from Howard Green at MIT. She was a professor at the University of Chicago for 20 years before relocating her laboratory to Rockefeller University in New York City in 2002, where she is currently professor and head at the Laboratory of Mammalian Cell Biology and Development. She is also an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
Listen to the Interview (requires free RealPlayer software):
Elaine Fuchs talks about early influences that inspired her to become a scientist and her undergraduate studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana. Fuchs discusses her decision to go to graduate school immediately after college, rather than join the Peace Corps. (11 minutes)
Fuchs explains her graduate work on carbohydrate chemistry. She describes her interest in working at the interface of biology and medical sciences. She talks about her postdoctoral work in the laboratory of Dr. Howard Green, then at MIT, in order to study adult stem cells derived from skin. (9 minutes)
Fuchs describes her work studying skin disease states in tissue cultured in petri dishes. (10 minutes)
Fuchs elaborates upon the reverse genetic technique that she uses to understand human diseases. (8 minutes)
Fuchs gives a brief overview of the history of recombinant DNA technology. She talks about work she conducted at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Chicago. (12 minutes)
Fuchs discusses the very hairy mouse that was developed in her lab, the politics of stem cell research and the potential applications of this research. Fuchs ends by mentioning the importance of research setting the groundwork of knowledge in science and outreach by scientists. (8 minutes)
Last Updated: 07-26-2004
The audio files linked above are part of the National Academy of Sciences InterViews series. Opinions and statements included in these audio files are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Academy of Sciences.