Dr. Elliot Meyerowitz
Elliot Meyerowitz is the George Beadle Professor of Biology, and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute – Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation Investigator at the California Institute of Technology, where he has been on the faculty since 1980. From 2000 to 2010 he was Chair of the Caltech Division of Biology. In 2011 and 2012, while on leave from Caltech, he served as the Inaugural Director of the Sainsbury Laboratory at the University of Cambridge. His laboratory studies the development of Arabidopsis thaliana, a widely used plant model system that his laboratory (and others) popularized beginning in the early 1980s. After establishing molecular cloning for this plant, the Meyerowitz laboratory identified and cloned numerous flower development genes, leading to the “ABC Model” of floral organ specification. They also cloned the receptors for the plant hormone ethylene, the first cloned plant hormone receptors, and identified the plant peptide hormone signaling system. Current studies concentrate on the role of mechanical signaling in plant development, on the mechanisms of plant regeneration and grafting, and on the interactions between the peptide signaling system and hormone action in plant stem cells at the shoot apex.
Throughout this work, the Meyerowitz laboratory and a group of international collaborators has developed what they term “Computational Morphodynamics,” a combined experimental and computational approach to generation and testing of explicit hypotheses for plant development. The experimental side involves high-resolution live imaging of plant tissues as they grow and develop, with fluorescent reporters for gene activity and protein localization as well as for cellular components; the computational side involves the generation of sets of ordinary differential equations whose parameters represent properties of the plant that are amenable to experimental tests, and that reproduce the activities of the living plant at several different scales. This approach has led to the understanding of the mechanism by which plants create phyllotactic patterns – the patterns of leaves and flowers around the stem – and other previously mysterious developmental patterns, as well as to the recognition of novel mechanisms for pattern formation.
Among his honors are the Genetics Society of America Medal (1996); the International Prize for Biology of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (1997); the Lounsbery Award of the National Academy of Sciences (1999); the R.G. Harrison Prize of the International Society of Developmental Biologists (2005); the Balzan Prize (2006), the Sibthorp Medal of the University Oxford (2011), and the Dawson Prize for Genetics from the University of Dublin (2013). He has received honorary doctorates from the École Normale Supérieure de Lyon and Yale University. Meyerowitz is past president of the Genetics Society of America, the International Society for Plant Molecular Biology, and the Society for Developmental Biology. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society, and is a foreign associate of the Académie des Sciences of France, and a foreign member of the Royal Society.