Thomas D. Pollard MD

Recipient of the Canada Gairdner International Award, 2006
"For his discoveries related to understanding the cytoskeleton of the cell and the basis of cell mobility and its relevance to human disease."

Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, USA


Prof. Thomas Pollard pioneered the biochemical and biophysical analysis of the actin cytoskeleton, which is responsible for form and movement in all cells. His many contributions have defined the actin cytoskeleton field for nearly three decades, and include the basis for directional actin polymerization, the discovery of actin capping, severing and nucleation factors and the mechanisms of actin-based intracellular movement. The complex actin-based cytoskeletal network underlies cell shape and motility in virtually all biological contexts, including intracellular transport, polarized cell growth and division, tissue formation and developmental morphogenesis. In addition, actin dynamics is essential for virulence of a number of human bacterial pathogens.

Dr. Thomas Pollard obtained his MD from Harvard Medical School (1968) and became a staff associate at the National Institutes of Health in 1969. He returned to Harvard in 1972, and was promoted to Associate Professor (1975). He was Professor and Director of the Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy at Johns Hopkins Medical School from 1987-1996. He assumed the Presidency of the Salk Institute in 1996, where he was also Professor and an Adjunct Professor at UCSD. He moved to Yale University in 2001, where he is currently the Eugene Higgins Professor and Chair of the Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology.

Prof. Pollard has held innumerable prestigious advisory and editorial board positions, including the Presidency of the American Society for Cell Biology and the Biophysical Society. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences of the United States, the American Society of Microbiology, and the Biophysical Society. He has given many named lectures and won a number of prestigious awards including a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Rosensteil Award and the E.B. Wilson Medal. He is also a renowned mentor, for which he has won numerous teaching awards.