September 5, 2007

WORCESTER, Mass.—Recently elected member of the National Academy of Sciences Victor R. Ambros, PhD, has joined the University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS) in the Program of Molecular Medicine. Dr. Ambros comes to UMMS from Dartmouth Medical School in Hanover, N.H., where he has served as a professor of genetics since 2001, after serving as professor of biological sciences from 1992 to 2001. Ambros will join the UMMS faculty in January.

“Dr. Ambros and his lab group are a fabulous addition to our Program in Molecular Medicine and the Medical School faculty, greatly enhancing our growing RNA community,” said Michael P. Czech, PhD, professor and chair of molecular medicine and professor of biochemistry & molecular pharmacology. “UMMS will not only benefit from his expertise as an international leader in microRNA research, but also from his outstanding qualities as a partner, mentor, colleague and collaborator."

Ambros completed his undergraduate and graduate degrees as well as his postdoctoral research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. During graduate school, he worked with David Baltimore, PhD, a co-recipient of the 1975 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for discoveries related to the interaction between tumor viruses and genetic material of the cell. In Dr. Baltimore’s lab, Ambros studied the poliovirus genome structure and replication. In 1979, he began his postdoctoral research in the lab of H. Robert Horvitz, who shared the 2002 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for his research related to genetic regulation of organ development and programmed cell death. As a fellow in Dr. Horvitz’s lab, Ambros’ research focused on genetic pathways that control developmental timing in C. elegans.

After completing his postdoctoral fellowship, in 1984 Ambros joined the faculty at Harvard where he remained until 1992, when he accepted a faculty position at Dartmouth. The following year, Ambros’ lab was the first to discover a microRNA, in this case the product of the heterochronic lin-4 gene in C. elegans. MicroRNAs are single-stranded RNA molecules that play a critical role in gene regulation. Since this discovery, Ambros and others have identified a large range of genes for diverse microRNAs in animals and plants. Today, Ambros continues his research on microRNA function and gene regulation during development, and is focused on understanding the genetic and molecular mechanisms that control cell division, differentiation and morphogenesis in animals.

Ambros was honored for his research on gene regulation when he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences this past May. He has received numerous honors for his scientific achievements, including the 2005 Lewis S. Rosenstiel Award for Distinguished Work in Basic Medical Research, which he shared with Gary Ruvkun, PhD, from Massachusetts General Hospital, and 2006 Nobel Laureates Andrew Z. Fire, PhD, of Stanford University and Craig C. Mello, PhD, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, Blais University Chair in Molecular Medicine and professor of cell biology at UMMS. (Mello completed his PhD research in Ambros’s lab at Harvard in the 1980s.) Ambros is also a co-recipient of the 2002 Newcomb Cleveland Prize from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and he was awarded the 2006 Genetics Society of America Medal for outstanding contributions in the field of genetics in the past 15 years.

About The University of Massachusetts Medical School
The University of Massachusetts Medical School, one of the fastest growing academic health centers in the country, has built a reputation as a world- class research institution, consistently producing noteworthy advances in clinical and basic research. The Medical School attracts more than $174 million in research funding annually, 80% of which comes from federal funding sources. Research funding enables UMMS scientists to explore human disease from the molecular level to large-scale clinical trials. Basic and clinical research leads to new approaches for diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disease. Visit www.umassmed.edu for additional information.

Contact: Alison Duffy, 508-856-2000