Fred Ausubel, winner of the 2014 Thomas Hunt Morgan Medal
Fred's name will soon be added to the list of recipients at http://www.genetics-gsa.org/awards/thomashuntaward.shtml. The Thomas Hunt Morgan Medal is awarded to an individual GSA (Genetics Society of America) member for lifetime achievement in the field of genetics. It recognizes the full body of work of an exceptional geneticist.
During his 40-year career, Dr. Ausubel’s work has centered on host-microbe interactions and host innate immunity. He is widely recognized as a key scientist responsible for establishing the modern post-recombinant DNA field of host-microbe interactions using simple non-vertebrate hosts. He has used genetic approaches to conduct pioneering work that spawned six related areas of research: the evolution and regulation of Rhizobium genes involved in symbiotic nitrogen fixation; the regulation of Rhizobium genes by two-component regulatory systems involving histidine kinases; establishing Arabidopsis thaliana as a world-wide model system; identifying a large family of plant disease resistance genes; identifying so-called multi-host bacterial pathogens; and demonstrating that Caenorhabditis elegans has an evolutionarily conserved innate immune system that shares features of both plant and mammalian immunity.
His early work with Klebsiella pneumonia and Rhizobium meliloti brought discoveries about key regulatory networks in free-living and symbiotic nitrogen fixing bacteria and the genes that symbiotic bacteria use to interact with their hosts. He also applied genetic analysis to the host side of microbial plant and microbial animal interactions, using Arabidopsis and C. elegans to define fundamental immune defense mechanisms, ultimately fathering scientific research fields that have grown to hundreds of independent research groups. Ausubel’s findings support the hypothesis that key features of host-defense responses, and the offensive strategies pathogenic microbes use, have ancient origins.
He has been an author on over 300 publications, has trained over 30 graduate students and 70 postdoctoral researchers, spawning a highly-successful scientific lineage. Dr. Ausubel is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Academy of Microbiology. He currently holds an NIH MERIT Award, has served on the editorial boards of fourteen journals, numerous advisory boards, and has edited a popular manual detailing protocols in molecular biology.