Distinguished Research Professor 2012
Michael Terns, professor of biochemistry and molecular biology and genetics, is a leading authority in the field of RNA biology. Among his many accomplishments, Terns’ work has revealed the pathways that regulate the activity of telomerase, an enzyme that is essential to the development of most cancers. His research group has studied extensively the C/D and H/ACA RNPs, enzymes that build and support critical cellular machinery, which has provided key insights into the development of the fatal bone marrow disease dyskeratosis congenital, and a common neuromuscular disease called spinal muscular atrophy. Terns also has conducted groundbreaking research into CRISPR-Cas systems, small RNA-based immune systems that protect bacteria from viruses and other threats. These systems are being employed to protect domesticated bacteria used in production of food, pharmaceuticals and biofuels. They also show promise as a way to fight disease-causing bacteria and slow or stop the spread of antibiotic-resistant microorganisms.