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Joseph Ecker Honored by the Genetics Society of America

Joseph R. Ecker

Joseph R. Ecker

The Genetics Society of America has selected Joseph R. Ecker, professor and director of the Genomic Analysis Laboratory at the Salk Institute as the recipient of the George W. Beadle Award for outstanding contributions to the community of genetics researchers.

The award is named after Nobel Laureate George W. Beadle, whose experiments established the linkage between biochemistry and genetics, setting the groundwork for the development of molecular biology.

Ecker is recognized for the body of work he has developed in studying Arabidopsis thaliana, a flowering mustard weed and model organism. He was a driving force within the multinational Arabidopsis Genome Sequencing Committee, a team that sequenced the Arabidopsis thaliana genome three years ahead of the scheduled ten, and with colleagues has developed new gene scouting techniques. Ecker made national headlines last December when TIME magazine ranked the study, in which his lab mapped the epigenome of two human cell types for the first time, the No. 2 most important scientific finding of 2009.

Ecker has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences and has served as the president of the International Society for Plant Molecular Biology. His long list of awards and honors include the John J. Carty Award for the Advancement of Science, the Martin Gibbs Medal, and the Kumho Science International Award in Plant Molecular Biology.