Scientific Advisory Board

The Scientific Advisory Board, comprised of members of the National Academy of Sciences, provides independent advice and guidance on the scientific direction of the Institute.


Jonathan S. Weissman, PhD

Stowers Institute Scientific Advisory Board
Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Member and Landon T. Clay Professor of Biology
Whitehead Institute
Professor of Biology
Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Jonathan S. Weissman was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2009, in part for his contribution to the development of the technique of ribosome profiling, as well as co-development of CRISPRi and CRISPRa, which provide researchers the ability to turn on and off any desired gene. These discoveries are revolutionizing both basic science and applied medical research. Another research area for Weissman is understanding how cells ensure the proper folding of proteins and the catastrophic consequences of protein misfolding. In addition, he and his team are developing experimental and analytical approaches for exploring the organizational principles of complex biological systems.

Weissman, who joined the Scientific Advisory Board in 2016, received his undergraduate physics degree from Harvard College. After obtaining a PhD in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Weissman pursued postdoctoral fellowship training at the Yale University School of Medicine.

He has been honored with the 2008 Raymond and Beverly Sackler International Prize in Biophysics, election as a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology in 2010, the 2015 Keith R Porter Lecture Award from the American Society of Cell Biology, and the 2015 National Academy of Sciences Award for Scientific Discovery.

Rachel Green, PhD

Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Biochemistry, Cellular and Molecular Biology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine


Rachel Green was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2012 for her work on the molecular mechanisms of protein synthesis and its regulation in diverse systems. She was also elected to the National Academy of Medicine in 2017 for her contributions to the advancement of the medical sciences, health care, and public health.

Her recent work has used biochemical and genome-wide approaches to define the interconnections between translation, mRNA decay and ribosome rescue. These processes have particular relevance to understanding ribosome homeostasis in biological systems and thus have relevance to disorders broadly defined as “ribosomopathies”.

Green received her BS in chemistry at the University of Michigan in 1986 and completed her PhD in biochemistry at Harvard University in 1992. After a postdoctoral fellowship in biochemistry at the University of California, Santa Cruz, she joined the faculty of Johns Hopkins in 1998. Green is currently a Bloomberg Distinguished Professor with a joint appointment in the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and in the Department of Biology at the Johns Hopkins University Krieger School of Arts and Sciences. Green joined the Stowers Scientific Advisory Board in 2017.

Ruth Lehmann, PhD

Whitehead Institute
Professor of Biology
Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Ruth Lehmann was elected as a Foreign Associate to the National Academy of Sciences in 2005 for her pioneering contributions in the field of developmental biology. She is widely known for her work on germ cells, which give rise to egg and sperm during the early development of the embryo. By studying aberrant development of mutant germ cell lines in the fruit fly, her research has laid the foundation for understanding the potential causes of testicular germ line cancers and sterility.

Using genetics and live-imaging, Lehmann identified several mechanisms that regulate germ cell specification, migration and survival in the embryo, and germ line stem cell maintenance in the adult.  In recent studies, her lab demonstrated the role of lipid signaling in germ cell migration and identified the genetic basis of transcriptional silencing in primordial germ cells and the mechanisms that control homeostasis of germ cell proliferation.

Lehmann, who joined the Stowers Scientific Advisory Board in 2011, received her PhD from the University of Tübingen, Germany. After postdoctoral training in Tübingen and at the Medical Research Council in Cambridge, UK, she joined the Whitehead Institute and the faculty of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology before she moved to NYU School of Medicine's Skirball Institute of Biomolecular Medicine in 1996. She is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, the director of the Skirball Institute and the Kimmel Center for Stem Cell Biology and the Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Professor of Cell Biology.

Michael Levine, PhD

The Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics, Princeton University


Michael Levine was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1998 in recognition of his elegant, insightful, and complete analysis of regulatory events that govern segmentation and dorsal-ventral polarity in fruit fly embryos. His work provided a dramatic example of combinatorial regulation at a complex enhancer and established new paradigms for transcriptional control.

Levine studies regulatory DNA and cell fate specification. His laboratory uses new technologies to manipulate embryos in myriad ways to understand how crude gradients of regulatory factors produce sharp on/off patterns of gene expression. These technologies have made possible a geometric growth in the gene-based approach to developmental biology.

Levine, who was appointed to the Stowers Institute Scientific Advisory Board in 1998, received a PhD from Yale University and trained at the University of Basel. He was awarded the Monsanto Prize in Molecular Biology from National Academy of Sciences in 1996.

Eric Olson, PhD

Professor and Chair
Department of Molecular Biology
Hamon Center for Basic Research in Cancer, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas


Eric Olson was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2000 for his integrated use of biochemical, genetic, and molecular biological methods to resolve how tissues are determined and differentiated in multicellular organisms. His research unveiled a compelling description of how myogenic and cardiogenic transcription factors control organogenesis of skeletal muscle and heart tissues in fruit flies and laboratory mice.  

Olson's laboratory focuses on the gene regulatory proteins and signaling molecules that control cardiac muscle development and also play an important role in remodeling the adult heart during pathologic cardiac enlargement and heart failure. By deciphering the mechanisms that regulate cardiac development and gene expression in model organisms, he seeks insights into the molecular pathologies underlying congenital and acquired heart disease in humans.

Olson, who joined the Stowers Institute Scientific Advisory Board in 2000, received a BA in biology and chemistry from Wake Forest University and a PhD in biochemistry from Wake Forest University Medical School.

Joshua Sanes, PhD

Center for Brain Neuroscience
Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Harvard University


A renowned neurobiologist, Joshua Sanes focuses on the formation of synapses, the specialized connections between nerve cells, from developmental and molecular perspectives. Using mouse genetics and the latest live imaging technologies, Sanes identified many of the molecules and signals that stimulate synapse development and dictate how long they will last. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2002.

Sanes serves on the editorial boards of the journals Cell, Journal of Cell Biology, and Neuron. From 1999 to 2003, he served on the National Advisory Council for National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke of the National Institutes of Health. He is currently the chair of the Scientific Advisory Boards for the Max Planck Institute for Neurobiology in Munich and the Searle Scholars Program. Additionally, Sanes serves on the Scientific Advisory Board of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

After completing doctoral and master’s degrees at Harvard University and a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and psychology at Yale University, Sanes trained with Zach Hall in the Department of Physiology at the University of California, San Francisco. Prior to joining Harvard University, Sanes was the Alumni Endowed Professor of Neurobiology in the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology at Washington University School of Medicine. Sanes has been a member of the Stowers Scientific Advisory Board since 2006.

Xiaowei Zhuang, PhD

Howard Hughes Medical Institute
David B. Arnold Professor of Science
Harvard University


Xiaowei Zhuang is a pioneer of single-molecule and super-resolution imaging for the studies of biological systems. She invented STORM, one of the first and most widely-used super-resolution imaging methods and has used STORM to make discoveries of novel cellular structures. She also invented a single-cell transcriptome imaging method, MERFISH, and has applied this method to study cells and tissues at the systems level. She has also developed other single-molecule approaches to investigate the dynamics and function of biomolecules.

Zhuang received her BS in physics from the University of Science and Technology of China, a PhD in physics in the lab of Y. R. Shen at University of California, Berkeley, and her postdoctoral training in biophysics in the lab of Steven Chu at Stanford University. She joined the faculty of Harvard University in 2001 and was selected as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator in 2005.

Zhuang, who joined the Stowers Scientific Advisory Board in 2017, is a member of the US National Academy of Sciences. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a foreign member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the European Molecular Biology Organization, a fellow of the American Association of the Advancement of Science and the American Physical Society, and an honorary fellow of the Royal Microscopical Society. She has received numerous awards, including the H. P. Heineken Prize for Biochemistry and Biophysics, the National Academy of Sciences Award in Molecular Biology, the Raymond and Beverly Sackler International Prize in Biophysics, and a MacArthur Fellowship, among others.

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