Joseph Ecker

Professor

Plant Molecular and Cellular Biology Laboratory

Director, Genomic Analysis Laboratory

Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator

Salk International Council Chair in Genetics

Salk Institute for Biological Studies - News

News


New kinds of brain cells revealed

LA JOLLA—Under a microscope, it can be hard to tell the difference between any two neurons, the brain cells that store and process information. So scientists have turned to molecular …


New method to rapidly map the “social networks” of proteins

LA JOLLA—Salk scientists have developed a new high-throughput technique to determine which proteins in a cell interact with each other. Mapping this network of interactions, or “interactome,” has been slow …


Finding our way around DNA

LA JOLLA—Most of us would be lost without Google maps or similar route-guidance technologies. And when those mapping tools include additional data about traffic or weather, we can navigate even …


Building a better brain

LA JOLLA—When you build models, whether ships or cars, you want them to be as much like the real deal as possible. This quality is even more crucial for building …


New technique could increase success of infertility treatment

PORTLAND, Ore, and LA JOLLA, Calif.—Families struggling with infertility or a genetic predisposition for debilitating mitochondrial diseases may someday benefit from a new breakthrough led by scientists at OHSU and …


Molecular conductors help plants respond to drought

LA JOLLA—We can tell when plants need water: their leaves droop and they start to look dry. But what’s happening on a molecular level?

Salk scientists find key players in complex …

Gauging stem cells for regenerative medicine

LA JOLLA—Salk scientists and colleagues have proposed new molecular criteria for judging just how close any line of laboratory-generated stem cells comes to mimicking embryonic cells seen in the very …


Salk researchers chart landscape of genetic and epigenetic regulation in plants

LA JOLLA—A new technique developed by Salk Institute scientists for rapidly mapping regions of DNA targeted by regulatory proteins could give scientists insight into what makes some plants drought tolerant …


Three Salk scientists make Thomson Reuters’ list of “The World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds”

Salk Institute scientists Joanne Chory, Joseph Ecker and Rusty Gage have been named to the 2015 list of “The World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds” by Thomson Reuters.

Reuters, a multinational mass …


Grafted plants’ genomes can communicate with each other

LA JOLLA—Agricultural grafting dates back nearly 3,000 years. By trial and error, people from ancient China to ancient Greece realized that joining a cut branch from one plant onto the …


Salk scientists reveal epigenome maps of the human body’s major organs

LA JOLLA–For more than a decade, scientists have had a working map of the human genome, a complete picture of the DNA sequence that encodes human life. But new pages …


Salk scientists Joseph Ecker and Dennis O’Leary elected to American Academy of Arts & Sciences

LA JOLLA–Salk Institute Professors Joseph Ecker and Dennis O’Leary have received the prestigious honor of being elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAAS) class of 2015. One …


Salk scientists receive $3 million for BRAIN Initiative grant

LA JOLLA—Joseph Ecker, a Salk professor and Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, and Margarita Behrens, Salk staff scientist, have been named recipients in the 2014 round of grants from the …


Some stem cell methods closer to “gold standard” than others

LA JOLLA—Researchers around the world have turned to stem cells, which have the potential to develop into any cell type in the body, for potential regenerative and disease therapeutics.

Now, for …


Salk Institute and Stanford University to lead new $40 million stem cell genomics center

LA JOLLA—The Salk Institute for Biological Studies will join Stanford University in leading a new Center of Excellence in Stem Cell Genomics, created through a $40 million award by California’s …


Unique epigenomic code identified during human brain development

LA JOLLA,CA—Changes in the epigenome, including chemical modifications of DNA, can act as an extra layer of information in the genome, and are thought to play a role in learning …


Scientists identify thousands of plant genes activated by ethylene gas

LA JOLLA, CA—It’s common wisdom that one rotten apple in a barrel spoils all the other apples, and that an apple ripens a green banana if they are put together …


Hidden layer of genome unveils how plants may adapt to environments throughout the world

LA JOLLA, CA—Scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have identified patterns of epigenomic diversity that not only allow plants to adapt to various environments, but could also benefit …


More than 3,000 epigenetic switches control daily liver cycles

LA JOLLA, CA—When it’s dark, and we start to fall asleep, most of us think we’re tired because our bodies need rest. Yet circadian rhythms affect our bodies not just …


Two more Salk scientists elected as AAAS Fellows

LA JOLLA,CA—Salk faculty members Joseph Ecker and Joseph Noel have been named as 2012 Fellows by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world’s largest general scientific …


Discovery may help protect crops from stressors

LA JOLLA, CA—Scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have discovered a key genetic switch by which plants control their response to ethylene gas, a natural plant hormone best …


Planting the seeds of defense

LA JOLLA, CA—It was long thought that methylation, a crucial part of normal organism development, was a static modification of DNA that could not be altered by environmental conditions. New …


Are genes our destiny?

LA JOLLA, CA—A “hidden” code linked to the DNA of plants allows them to develop and pass down new biological traits far more rapidly than previously thought, according to the …


Scientists take a giant step for people – with plants!

La Jolla—Science usually progresses in small steps, but on rare occasions, a new combination of research expertise and cutting-edge technology produces a ‘great leap forward.’ An international team of scientists, …


Salk scientist Joseph Ecker, appointed as Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation Investigator

La Jolla—Plant biologist Joseph R. Ecker, Ph.D., professor and director of the Genomic Analysis Laboratory at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, has been selected for a prestigious position as …


Cell reprogramming leaves a “footprint” behind

LA JOLLA, CA—Reprogramming adult cells to recapture their youthful “can-do-it-all” attitude appears to leave an indelible mark, found researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. When the team, led …


What drives our genes? Salk researchers map the first complete human epigenome

LA JOLLA, CA—Although the human genome sequence faithfully lists (almost) every single DNA base of the roughly 3 billion bases that make up a human genome, it doesn’t tell biologists …


Why fruits ripen and flowers die: Salk scientists discover how key plant hormone is triggered

La Jolla, CA—Best known for its effects on fruit ripening and flower fading, the gaseous plant hormone ethylene shortens the shelf life of many fruits and plants by …


Not your grandfather’s transcriptome-plant biologists discover unexpected proteins affecting small RNAs

La Jolla, CA – Now that high school biology students can recite that genes are made of DNA, which is transcribed into messenger RNA (mRNA), which is then translated into …


Charting the Epigenome

La Jolla, CA – Until recently, the chemical marks littering the DNA inside our cells like trees dotting a landscape could only be studied one gene at a time. But …


New plant study reveals a “deeply hidden” layer of the transcriptome

La Jolla, CA – Cells keep a close watch over the transcriptome – the totality of all parts of the genome that are expressed in any given cell at any …


Charting ever-changing genomes

La Jolla, CA – Instead of immutable proprietary software, any species’ genetic information resembles open source code that is constantly tweaked and optimized to meet the users’ specific needs. But …


National Academy of Sciences honors Joe Ecker with Carty Award

La Jolla, CA – The National Academy of Sciences has selected Joseph R. Ecker, professor in the Plant Biology Laboratory and director of the Salk Institute Genomic Analysis …


In a technical tour de force, Salk scientists take a global view of the epigenome

La Jolla, CA – A collaboration between researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies and the University of California at Los Angeles captured the genome-wide DNA …


Salk scientist Joe Ecker elected to National Academy of Sciences

La Jolla, CA – Salk Institute professor Joseph R. Ecker, who spearheaded the first effort to decipher a plant genome, has been elected a member …


Gene Chip Study Could Lead to New Hybrid Plants

La Jolla, CA – A study led by the Salk Institute and the University of California at Berkeley has found new methods to identify functional genes in the common mustard …


Salk Study Advances Understanding of Plant Genes and Their Function

La Jolla, CA – A Salk Institute study provides significant new information in the process of allowing scientists to understand the function of plant genes. The study is published in …


First Plant Genome Sequenced: Salk Scientists Part Of International Effort

La Jolla, CA – The first complete genome sequence of a plant appears in the current issue of Nature. Salk Professor Joseph R. Ecker, co-director of one of six contributing …


Education

BA, Biology/Chemistry, The College of New Jersey, Ewing, N.J.
PhD, Microbiology, Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine
Postdoctoral Fellow, Stanford University School of Medicine


Awards & Honors

  • 2015 American Academy of Arts and Sciences
  • 2012 Elected as AAAS Fellow
  • 2011 Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation
  • 2011 George W. Beadle Award, Genetics Society of America
  • 2009 #2 Scientific Discovery of the Year 2009-TIME Magazine
  • 2007 National Academy of Sciences, John J. Carty Award for the Advancement of Science
  • 2006 Elected, National Academy of Sciences
  • 2005 American Society for Plant Biology, Martin Gibbs Medal
  • 2004 Scientific American 50 Research Leader of the Year
  • 2004 International Plant Growth Substances Association Distinguished Research Award
  • 2001 Kumho Science International Award in Plant Molecular Biology
  • President International Society for Plant Molecular Biology