C David Allis PhD

Recipient of the Canada Gairdner International Award, 2007
"For his transforming studies demonstrating the link between chromatin structure and gene transcription and elucidating the mechanisms by which a variety of post-translational modifications of histones are involved in gene expression and genome maintenance and stability."

Rockefeller University, New York, New York, USA


C. David Allis is a leader in the field of chromatin biology. He has pioneered experimental and theoretical studies elucidating the mechanisms by which post-translational modifications of histones regulate the functions of chromatin. His studies demonstrating the identity between biochemically purified histone modifying enzymes and genetically defined transcription co-activators established a critical link between covalent histone modifications and gene activation and opened a new era in chromatin biology and our understanding of genome function. He proposed and refined the current paradigm referred to as the 'histone code hypothesis' to explain how cell signaling cascades result in individual or combinatorial histone modifications, forming an epigenetic code that dictates specific functional outcomes through downstream interactions with distinct combinations of transcriptional regulatory factors. His research has been driven by his development of novel methods for studying protein modifications that are now mainstream in the field. His work has brought together the fields of chromatin biology and genome function and has had major impact on the basic fields of genetics, cell, developmental, and molecular biology with major impact for the understanding of abnormal development and cancer.

A native of Cincinnati, Ohio Dr Allis received a PhD from Indiana University (1978). Following postdoctoral studies (1978-1981) at the University of Rochester, he has held academic positions at Baylor College of Medicine as Assistant Professor (1981) to Professor (1988), Syracuse University,University of Rochester (Marie and Joseph Wilson Professor, Departments of Biology and Oncology), and the University of Virginia Health System (Harry F. Byrd Jr. Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics). Since 2002, he has been Joy and Jack Fishman Professor and Head, Laboratory of Chromatin Biology, The Rockefeller University. He has been elected to numerous prestigious societies including Phi Beta Kappa, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, The American Academy of Microbiology, the Harvey Society, the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and the National Academy of Sciences. He has received numerous awards including the Syracuse University William J. Wasserman Prize, the University of Rochester Davey Award, the Baxter Award for Distinguished Research, the Massry Prize, and the John Wiley Prize, to name a few. He has presented many Distinguished Lectures, has published over 240 scientific papers, and is co-editor of a recent ground breaking book on Epigenetics.