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Job Dekker elected to National Academy of Sciences

By Colleen Locke

UMass Chan Medical School Communications

May 04, 2022

UMass Chan Medical School scientist Job Dekker, PhD, was elected to the National Academy of Sciences on May 3 for his contributions to the field of genomics.

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Job Dekker, PhD

Dr. Dekker, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, the Joseph J. Byrne Chair in Biomedical Research, professor of biochemistry & molecular pharmacology and systems biology, is one of 120 newly elected members.

“I am truly honored to have been elected,” Dekker said. “This is wonderful recognition of the work of all the members of my lab and our generous collaborators.”

The Dekker lab studies how a genome is organized in three dimensions inside the nucleus. Although DNA is composed of a linear sequence of bases, it doesn’t exist inside the cell nucleus in a simple, straight line. More like a ball of cooked spaghetti, the genome folds and loops back on itself so it can fit inside the tight confines of the nucleus. The shape it takes has a profound influence on which genes in a cell are turned on or turned off, and as a consequence, on health and disease. Many diseases, including cancer, are characterized by alterations in the spatial organization of the genome. This 3D architecture varies from cell type to cell type and even between cell states.

To study this 3D structure, Dekker developed chromosome conformation capture technologies, biochemical techniques for determining how DNA segments interact and are linked to one another. This technology is the heart of the “3C,” “5C,” “Hi-C” and “Micro-C” tools used by researchers worldwide to map the structure and organization of chromosomes inside cells.

Dekker received his PhD from Utrecht University in 1997 and joined UMass Chan in 2003. He was elected to the National Academy of Medicine in 2021.

The National Academy of Sciences was established by an act of Congress signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. Together with the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Medicine, it provides science, engineering and health policy advice to the federal government and other organizations. There are now 2,512 active members and 517 international members.

The following UMass Chan faculty members were previously elected to the academy:

  • Katherine Fitzgerald, PhD, the Worcester Foundation for Biomedical Research Chair, professor of medicine, vice chair for research in the Department of Medicine and director of the Program in Innate Immunity;
  • Nikolaus Grigorieff, PhD, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator and professor of RNA therapeutics;
  • Raúl Padrón, PhD, professor of radiology;
  • Roger J. Davis, PhD, FRS, the Arthur Smith Chair in Cancer Research and chair and professor of molecular medicine;
  • Craig C. Mello, PhD, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, the Blais University Chair in Molecular Medicine, distinguished professor of RNA therapeutics and molecular medicine;
  • Victor R. Ambros, PhD, the Silverman Chair in Natural Sciences and professor of molecular medicine; and
  • Michael R. Green, MD, PhD, the Lambi and Sarah Adams Chair in Genetic Research, chair and professor of molecular, cell & cancer biology, professor of molecular medicine, vice provost of strategic research initiatives, director of the UMass Cancer Center and co-director of the Li Weibo Institute for Rare Diseases Research.

Related UMass Chan news stories:
Job Dekker and Katherine Fitzgerald elected to National Academy of Medicine
UMMS scientists to expand 4D nucleome research with $13 million NIH grants
Job Dekker elected to European Molecular Biology Organization