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Nancy Hopkins
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Nancy Hopkins
Amgen, Inc. Professor of Molecular Biology
Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Nancy Hopkins is the Amgen, Inc. Professor of molecular biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She obtained a B.A. from Radcliffe College in 1964 and a Ph.D. from the department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry at Harvard University in 1971. Her Ph.D. thesis, carried out in the lab of Mark Ptashne, dealt with gene expression in the bacterial virus, lambda. As a postdoctoral fellow of James D. Watson at Harvard and at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, she worked on DNA tumor viruses in the lab of Robert Pollack. In 1973 she joined the MIT faculty as an assistant professor in the Center for Cancer Research, within the Biology Department, where she worked on mechanisms of replication and leukemogenesis by RNA tumor viruses for 17 years. She was promoted to Associate Professor in 1976, tenured in 1979, and promoted to Professor in 1982. About ten years ago Professor Hopkins switched fields of research to work on early vertebrate development using the zebrafish. Her lab developed techniques for making transgenic zebrafish including a technique called insertional mutagenesis. Using this technique her lab performed a large experiment that is making it possible to identify about 15-20% of the genes that are required to allow a fertilized egg to develop into a free-swimming larva. Dr. Hopkins is the author of scientific papers in the fields of gene expression in bacteriophage, genetics of leukemogenic viruses, and functional genomics applied to the field of vertebrate developmental biology. She co-authored the fourth edition of a textbook, The Molecular Biology of the Gene, with Watson and three others. She co-developed and taught the first freshman biology course required of all MIT undergraduates for which she was named a Class of 1960 Fellow. In 1995 she was appointed Chair of the first Committee on Women Faculty in the School of Science at MIT and in 2000 she was appointed Co-Chair with Provost Robert Brown of the first Council on Faculty Diversity at MIT. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.
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