Victor Ambros PhD

Recipient of the Canada Gairdner International Award, 2008
"For the discovery and characterization of micro RNA's, important in the regulation of gene function."

University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, Massachusetts, USA


Victor Ambros grew up in Vermont and graduated from MIT in 1975. He did his graduate research (1976-1979) with David Baltimore at MIT, studying poliovirus genome structure and replication. He began to study the genetic pathways controlling developmental timing in the nematodeC. elegansas a postdoc in H. Robert Horvitz's lab at MIT, and continued those studies while on the faculty of Harvard (1984-1992) Dartmouth (1992-2007), and the University of Massachusetts Medical School (2008-present). In 1993, members of the Ambros lab identified the first microRNA, the product oflin-4, a heterochronic gene ofC. elegans. Since then, the role of microRNAs in development has been a major focus of his research.

Summary of Victor Ambros's Research Interests

I am primarily a developmental biologist, interested is the genetic regulatory mechanisms that control animal development, and in particular the molecules that function during animal development to ensure the proper timing of developmental events. I have primarily employed the nematodeCaenorhabditis elegansas a model system for studying the function of regulators of developmental timing, which inC. elegansare known as the "heterochronic genes", in reference to the remarkable changes in relative timing of developmental event that are elicited by mutations in these genes. The heterochronic genes comprise a set of interrelated regulatory pathways that include proteins that regulate the transcription of other genes, and also a class of small RNA, known as microRNAs, that regulate the production of protein by the messenger RNAs of specific target genes. Much of my research in recent years has been aimed at understanding how microRNAs are integrated into broader regulatory networks related to animal development and human disease, and at uncovering the molecular mechanisms for how microRNAs exert their effects on gene expression.

Six Ambros Papers For a Desert Island:

Ambros V, Horvitz HR. (1984) Heterochronic mutants of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. Science. Oct 26;226(4673):409-16.

Ambros V. (1989) A hierarchy of regulatory genes controls a larva-to-adult developmental switch inC. elegans. Cell. Apr 7;57(1):49-57.

Lee, R., Feinbaum, R., and Ambros, V. (1993). The heterochronic genelin-4ofC. elegansencodes small RNAs with antisense complementarity tolin-14. Cell, 75, 843-854.

Moss, E., Lee, R., and Ambros, V. (1997) Control of developmental timing by the cold shock domain protein Lin-28 and its regulation by thelin-4RNA. Cell 88, 637-646.

Olsen, P. H. and Ambros, V. (1999) Thelin-4regulatory RNA controls developmental timing in C. elegans by blocking LIN-14 protein synthesis after the initiation of translation. Develop Biol. 216,671-680

Lee, R. C. and Ambros, V. (2001) An extensive class of small RNAs in Caenorhabditis elegans. Science 294, 862-86