Leemor Joshua-Tor

Howard Hughes Medical Institute
W. M. Keck Professor of Structural Biology
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Ph.D., The Weizmann Institute of Science, 1991

Structural biology; Nucleic acid regulation; RNAi; Molecular recognition; X-ray crystallography


Leemor Joshua-Tor, Ph.D. is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator and W.M. Keck Professor of Structural Biology at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. She is also the Chair of the Cancer and Molecular Biology Program. She was trained at Tel-Aviv University, where she earned a B.Sc. in chemistry, and at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, where she earned a Ph.D. in chemistry. She was a Jane Coffin Childs postdoctoral fellow at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) prior to joining the CSHL faculty. At CSHL, she was the Director of the Undergraduate Summer Research Program and then the Dean of the School of Biological Sciences, CSHL’s graduate school. She is the recipient of the Mildred Cohn Award in Biological Chemistry from the ASBMB, the Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin Award from the Protein Society, a Beckman Young Investigator Award and is a Fellow of the Biophysical Society. She is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She served on several advisory committees at the National Institutes of Health and serves on the editorial boards of a number of international scientific journals.

Leemor Joshua-Tor’s laboratory studies the molecular basis of nucleic acid regulatory processes, RNA interference (RNAi) and DNA replication in particular. She is perhaps best known for her work revealing the inner workings of components of the gene-silencing mechanisms of RNA interference. She discovered the role of an enigmatic protein called Argonaute at the heart of the RNAi machinery. Argonaute, also known as Slicer, is a programmable protein that effects gene silencing. In addition to basic mechanisms of gene silencing, they have been studying the regulation of the miRNA let-7, important in embryonic development and differentiation. She is also known for her studies of E1, a key factor in the replication of papillomavirus, a virus that causes cervical cancer. Dr. Joshua-Tor discovered how E1 moves along DNA, which has had implications to molecular motors in many fields of biology. More recently, they have been examining the eukaryotic replication machinery with the human Origin Recognition Complex (ORC) as the centerpiece of these studies.

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