Kathryn Anderson Wiki
Athryn Anderson, a developmental biologist at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, known for his work detailing the genetics of early embryogenesis, died on November 30
Throughout his scientific career, Anderson has used rigorous genetic screeing experiments to identify mutations suspected to impair cell division and differentiation in model systems. After identifying a gene of interest, he turned to a technique known as advanced genetics, creating model organisms such as fruit flies and mice with a particular phenotype to better understand their molecular basis. Using these tools, Anderson made a significant contribution to scientists’ understanding of the various genetic pathways – most notably the Toll and Hedgehog pathways – essential for the proper development of these animals.
Kathryn Anderson Age
She Was 68 Year Old
Kathryn Anderson Biography & Career
Kathryn was fearless and very open-minded, ”says Tatiana Omelchenko, senior research scientist who uses confocal microscopy to do live imaging of mouse embryos in Anderson’s lab. “Each lab has its own environment and its own mood, and when you stepped into Kathryn’s lab, you instantly felt very focused.”
Born in La Jolla, California in 1952, Anderson became interested in science at a young age and returned to an article on LIFE containing a detailed image of a human fetus, according to an interview published shortly after his death. He studied at the University of California, Berkeley, where he received a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry before going to Stanford University in 1973 for a master’s degree in neurodevelopment.
Anderson dropped out of this program after just two years, earning a master’s degree in neuroscience, and spent the next few years searching for his scientific niche. He briefly enrolled at the medical school at the University of California at San Diego, which made him realize his love for basic research. “The clinical study was not my cup of tea,” Anderson shared in his 2005 biography. The lab was where I felt most at home.
Anderson eventually landed at the University of California, Los Angeles, studying the developmental genetics of Drosophila under the guidance of biologist Judith Lengyel. Anderson showed for her doctoral study that the development of Drosophila embryos within the first two hours after fertilization remained under maternal control, with maternal RNA and proteins that direct cell division and differentiation within the egg.
Wanting to further his work on fruit flies, Anderson later went to the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology in Germany as a postdoctoral study with Drosophila geneticist Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard. In 1995, Nüsslein-Volhard would share a Nobel Prize for his work using batch scans to detect mutations that disrupt embryonic development, and Anderson would continue to work on a handful of genes identified on these early screens throughout his career.
It turns out that such a gene, known as Toll, plays an important role in dorsal-ventral (D-V) differentiation – dictating how a fly embryo “knows its back from the abdomen,” as Anderson says in his biography. In addition to researching Toll’s function, Anderson continued to build the wider Toll roadway after returning to the University of California at Berkeley as an assistant professor in 1985 and then opening it in his own laboratory at the Sloan Kettering Institute. 1996 at Memorial Sloan Kettering. During this time, Anderson and his team identified roughly a dozen genes involved in cell differentiation along the D-V axis and used similar screening methods to better understand Toll’s role in Drosophila’s innate immunity. Their findings were noted by geneticists Jules Hoffmann and Bruce Beutler, whose work on Toll-like receptors in both fruit fly and mammalian immunity would later win them a Nobel Prize.
After his success in fruit flies, Anderson began to consider applying the same methods to studies on mice. He spent a year on leave in Rosa Beddington’s laboratory at the National Institute of Medical Research in England, where he showed that Toll did not have a similar role in D-V differentiation of mammals. In an interview with Development in 2016, he showed that “there are things about early mammal development that you cannot understand by inferring from flies.”
Back at the Sloan Kettering Institute, Anderson once again began using mass genetic screening, this time to identify mutations of interest in mice and then study them in detail. These were lengthy experiments that usually took years to produce results. “I think his biggest contribution is exploring the functions and roles of genes through this mutagenesis screen,” says Omelchenko. This is amazing because. . . The mouse embryo model is quite complex, but it did the job. ”
Anderson and his team screened over 12,000 mutations, selecting about 40 that caused significant phenotypic disruptions in mid-pregnancy. Working diligently for many years, Anderson has since identified previously unknown paths that have sparked new research directions in the field of developmental biology.
For example, Anderson detected, through scanning, a previously unknown relationship between cilia (microscopic, hair-like structures outside of some cells) and proper marking of the Hedgehog pathway that dictates cell differentiation in mammalian embryos. Further research showed that the components of this pathway were rich in cilia, with mice with specific mutations in the genes involved in the Hedgehog signal, and lack of cilia in a structure called the node that directs gastrulation in vertebrate embryos. “Actually, this was quite surprising: there are all these organelles required for the Hedgehog to send signals in vertebrates, but not in flies,” Anderson Development said in an interview. “This is a geneticist’s dream, but it raises the question of why he organized the genome this way: There are too many weak spots in the Hedgehog signal and the Hedgehog is very vital.”
For his contributions to the field of developmental biology, Anderson was admitted to the National Academy of Sciences in 2002 and was selected as a member of the National Academies Medical Institute in 2008. In addition, Thomas Hunt was awarded the Morgan Medal. Lifetime contributions to genetics in 2012, the Federation of American Societies Award for Excellence in Science for Experimental Biology in 2014, and the Edwin G. Conklin Medal of the Association for Developmental Biology in 2016, among other honors.
Before his death, Anderson spoke about the possible expansion of his research into human genetics, as disruptions in hedgehog signaling have been linked to both birth defects and a number of diseases called ciliopathies. However, content with continuing his methodical study of mutations in mice was a line of inquiry he planned to leave to other scientists.
“A lot of scientists are very quiet people, but modern society requires you to be too loud for people to listen to you,” says Omelchenko. “Kathryn is a great example of being quiet, being a very deep thinker and also a very successful and brilliant scientist. I think I will continue to learn from him even though he is dead. “