Dr. Lynne Maquat is the J. Lowell Orbison Endowed Chair, Professor of Biochemistry & Biophysics who holds concomitant appointments in Pediatrics and in Oncology, Founding Director of the Center for RNA Biology, and Founding Chair of Graduate Women in Science at the University of Rochester, Rochester, NY. After obtaining her PhD in Biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and undertaking post-doctoral work at the McArdle Laboratory for Cancer Research, she joined Roswell Park Cancer Institute before moving to the University of Rochester.
Dr. Maquat’s research focuses on the molecular basis of human diseases, with particular interest in mechanisms of mRNA metabolism. Dr. Maquat discovered nonsense-mediated mRNA decay (NMD) in human diseases in 1981 and, subsequently, the exon-junction complex (EJC) and how the EJC marks mRNAs for a quality-control “pioneer” round of protein synthesis. She also discovered Staufen-mediated mRNA decay, which mechanistically competes with NMD and, by so doing, new roles for short interspersed elements and long non-coding RNAs. Additionally, she has defined a new mechanism by which microRNAs are degraded, thereby regulating mRNAs so as to promote the cell cycle.
Among her current work, she is investigating how human cells utilize NMD as a type of rheostat to better adapt to changes in environment during and after differentiation. This work has led to discovering the potential utility of small molecule inhibitors of NMD to, for example, augment chemotherapeutics that damage DNA or, as another example, dampen the hyperactive NMD she has shown typifies Fragile X Syndrome, which is the most common single-gene cause of autism and intellectual disability. Maquat is an elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (2006); an elected Member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences (2006), the National Academy of Sciences (2011), and the National Academy of Medicine (2017); and a Batsheva de Rothschild Fellow of the Israel Academy of Sciences & Humanities (2012-3). She received the international RNA Society Lifetime Achievement Award in Service (2010) and in Science (2017), the William C. Rose Award from the American Society for Biochemistry & Molecular Biology (2014), a Canada Gairdner International Award (2015), the Vanderbilt Prize in Biomedical Science (2017), the FASEB Excellence in Science Award (2018), the Wiley Prize in Biomedical Sciences from Rockefeller University (2018), the International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Medal (2019), the Wolf Prize in Medicine from the Wolf Foundation in Israel (2021), and the Warren Alpert Foundation Prize from Harvard Medical School (2021). Maquat is well-known for her efforts to promote women in science.