Ira Herskowitz, a scientist working in molecular genetics, biochemistry, and cell biology, was a major force in promoting our understanding of the mechanisms of molecular development.
His studies of cell specialization in yeast—which include the “cassette model” for mating-type interconversion—were major conceptual breakthroughs in the study of the genetic basis of cell differentiation. These studies provide a framework for the analysis of gene expression, especially its regulation by complex circuits and the interaction of the protein and DNA components in those circuits.
Herskowitz was the Herzstein Professor of Genetics in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of California, San Francisco, where he also co-directed the Program in Human Genetics. He joined the UCSF faculty in 1982, after serving as an assistant professor at the University of Oregon. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences (1986) and to the Institute of Medicine (2002), and received the Thomas Hunt Morgan Medal from the Genetics Society of America (2002) and the Lewis S. Rosenstiel Award for Distinguished Work in Basic Medicine (2003), among others.
Herskowitz received a B.S. (1967) from the California Institute of Technology and a Ph.D. (1971) from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Last updated January 1, 2005.