Sarah C. R. Elgin is a molecular geneticist recognized for her work on chromatin structure and its impact on gene expression. Early work in the Elgin lab developed a number of tools to characterize chromatin in Drosophila, including both a method to determine the distribution of specific proteins in the polytene chromosomes using immunofluorescence, and methods for analyzing the nucleosome array, including identification of accessible regulatory sites. Using these approaches led to a detailed picture of the chromatin structure of an inducible gene, hsp26, and to the identification of Heterochromatin Protein 1 (HP1a), shown by genetic and cytological analysis to play a key role in heterochromatin formation and gene silencing. Current work focuses on the establishment of heterochromatin, investigating both targeting mechanisms, maintenance, and epigenetic memory. Elgin was born in Washington D.C. and grew up in Salem, Oregon. She graduated from Pomona College, Claremont CA in 1967 with a degree in chemistry and from the California Institute of Technology in 1972 with a Ph.D. in biochemistry. She was a junior faculty member in the Harvard Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, and joined the faculty of Washington University in St Louis in 1981. In addition to her scientific work, Elgin has been very active in science education, and has received numerous awards for her efforts to bring research experiences into the undergraduate curriculum. She is a member of both the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences.

Research Interests

My current research is in epigenetic, specifically formation and functional implications of heterochromatin formation in Drosophila. Studies of gene expression on the Drosophila melanogaster F element, a heterochromatic domain that has ~80 active genes, have identified a common motif that can drive gene expression in this milieu. Work is on-going to analyze the silencing of tandem repeats, including a (GAA)310 array derived from a Friedricht's Ataxia patient. I am also involved in science education research, looking at the impact of Course-based Undergraduate Research Experiences (CUREs).

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Primary Section

Section 26: Genetics

Secondary Section

Section 21: Biochemistry