Dr.

Erin K. O'Shea

Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Area
Biological Sciences
Specialty
Biochemistry, Biophysics, and Molecular Biology
Member Since
2004

Dr. O’Shea currently holds multiple appointments including: Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute; Harvard University Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology and Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology; and Director of the Harvard FAS Center for Systems Biology. A 1988 chemistry graduate of Smith College, O’Shea completed her doctorate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in two and a half years, and contributed groundbreaking research elucidating the structure of a coiled-coil leucine zipper -- a region of repeating leucine residues that is involved in dimerization in many mammalian transcription factors. After her graduate work, O’Shea moved into the biological sciences, conducting research to decipher the role of transcription factor networks in regulation of gene expression, the mechanisms of the cyanobacterial circadian clock, and the role of noise in differential gene expression. She has also demonstrated how specific phosphorylation of a transcription factor determines its localization and regulatory activity and how inositol polyphosphates recruit chromatin remodeling factors.

The O’Shea lab’s current research investigates three main areas: (1) how regulatory networks encode and decode information to control gene expression, (2) function and mechanism of a three-protein cyanobacterial circadian clock; and (3) mechanism of drug action. Dr. O’Shea as been inducted into the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Microbiology and has received several prestigious career awards. Her numerous articles have been published in Science, Nature, BMC Genomics, and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.     

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