Dr. Joseph Ecker is a Professor of Plant Molecular and Cellular Biology Laboratory and Director of the Genomic Analyis Laboratory at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. He is also an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. Prof. Ecker holds the Salk International Council Chair in Genetics.
For nearly 25 years, Dr. Ecker has been at the forefront of research to decode the genome of Arabidopsis thaliana, a mustard weed that has become the gold standard of plant research. He was a leader of the international effort to sequence all of Arabidopsis which was completed in 2000. More recently, Dr. Ecker has turned to deciphering the epigenome, the layer of molecular tweaks that act on DNA to turn genes on and off. The genetic reference books developed by Dr. Ecker and his colleagues This work is also showing that the complicated genetic underpinnings of plants and humans are more similar than common perception.
Dr. Ecker has received a number of honors for his notable contributions to the field of plant biology. In a study TIME magazine ranked Dr. Ecker and his team’s work to provide the first detailed map of the human genome, as the second most important scientific discovery of 2009. In 2011, he received the George W. Beadle Medal for his outstanding contributions to the genetics community]. His other accolades include National Academy of Sciences, John J. Carty Award for the Advancement of Science; the Martin Gibbs Medal; the International Plant Growth Substances Association Distinguished Research Award; and the Kumho Science International Award in Plant Molecular Biology.
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