Scientific Advisory Board


Michael Levine, Ph.D.
Chairman of the Stowers Institute Scientific Advisory Board
Director, The Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics
Princeton University

Dr. 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.   

Dr. 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.

Dr. Levine, who was appointed to the Stowers Institute Scientific Advisory Board in 1998, received a Ph.D. 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.


Ruth Lehmann, Ph.D.
Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator
Director, Skirball Institute of Biomolecular Medicine
Professor and Chair, Department of Cell Biology
New York University School of Medicine

Dr. 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, Dr. 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. 

Dr. Lehmann, who joined the Stowers Scientific Advisory Board in 2011, received her Ph.D. 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.


Eric Olson, Ph.D.
Professor and Chair, Department of Molecular Biology
Director, Hamon Center for Basic Research in Cancer
University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas

Dr. 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.  

Dr. 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.

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


Joshua Sanes, Ph.D.
Director, Center for Brain Neuroscience
Professor, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology
Harvard University

A renowned neurobiologist, Dr. 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, Dr. 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.

Dr. 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, Dr. 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, Dr. Sanes trained with Dr. Zach Hall in the Department of Physiology at the University of California, San Francisco. Prior to joining Harvard University, Dr. Sanes was the Alumni Endowed Professor of Neurobiology in the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology at Washington University School of Medicine. Dr. Sanes has been a member of the Stowers Scientific Advisory Board since 2006.


Jonathan S. Weissman, Ph.D.
Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator
Professor of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology
University of California, San Francisco

Dr. 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 Dr. 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.

Dr. Weissman, who joined the Scientific Advisory Board in 2016, received his undergraduate physics degree from Harvard College. After obtaining a Ph.D. in Physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dr. 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.