Dr. Lucy Shapiro employs the bacterial model system Caulobacter crescentus to probe fundamental aspects of developmental biology. Following her graduate studies in molecular biology in the 1960s, she went on to establish an entirely new field: that of using microorganisms to address developmental biology research questions. She has made major advances in understanding the genetic and molecular decision-making process that directs identical bacterial cells to split into two different cell types.
Dr. Shapiro's research aims to define the complete genetic circuitry linking cell specification and the cell cycle in Caulobacter. Likening the bacteria's regulatory network to the act of "playing three-dimensional chess," Dr. Shapiro and her colleagues have focused on pinning down the multiple biological processes that control the cell cycle of this simple organism. In particular, she and her colleagues have embraced the power of genomics to identify and understand the molecular circuitry underlying Caulobacter cell division. Dr. Shapiro's studies have revealed a striking similarity between the organization of cell cycle behavior in bacteria and more evolutionarily advanced beings, such as mammals.
Dr. Shapiro is a professor in the Department of Developmental Biology and Ludwig Professor of Cancer Research at the Stanford University School of Medicine. She is also director of Stanford's Beckman Center for Molecular and Genetic Medicine. Dr. Shapiro received an A.B. in fine arts in 1962 from Brooklyn College and a Ph.D. in molecular biology in 1966 from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Her many honors include FASEB's Excellence in Science Award and election to the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
NIGMS has supported Dr. Shapiro's research since 1986.
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