Marchuk Appointed Vice Chair of the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology

Durham, N.C. (September 2010) — Douglas Marchuk, PhD, Professor of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology and Director of the of the Duke University Program in Genetics and Genomics, has been named Vice Chair of the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology at Duke University Medical Center.

Douglas Marchuk_Vice ChairMarchuk will begin transitioning to his new duties October 1, 2010. His appointment was announced by Joseph Heitman, MD, PhD, James B. Duke Professor and Director of the Center for Microbial Pathogenesis.

Marchuk received his PhD training with Elaine Fuchs at the University of Chicago and taught for a year at Hope College in Holland, Michigan. He then joined Francis Collins’ lab at the University of Michigan as a fellow where he trained in human genetics. Marchuk contributed to the identification of the type I neurofibromatosis gene by positional cloning in studies published in Science and Nature Genetics. In addition, his studies demonstrated that the human NF1 gene product can functionally replace the yeast homolog, the GTPase activating protein Ira1/2 involved in regulation of Ras function in yeast, a remarkable conservation in function that was published in Cell. Marchuk developed the plasmid vectors that facilitate direct cloning of PCR products (T-vectors for TA cloning), a methods paper published in Nucleic Acids Research in 1991 that has been cited over 1000 times to date.

Marchuk joined the Department of Genetics at Duke in 1993. At Duke, his research program has focused on inherited disorders of the vasculature with a focus on Hereditary Hemorrhagic Telangiectasia (HHT). He and his colleagues established linkage for the disorder to different regions of the human genome (McDonald et al, Nature Genetics 1994). Subsequently, they identified the genes mutated in two forms of the disorder, and characterized the mutations that occur in a number of affected kindreds involving components of a novel type of vasculature specific TGF-beta signaling pathway (endoglin, and the ALK1 receptor, a member of the TGF-beta type I receptor family) (McAllister et al, Nature Genetics 1994; Johnson et al, Nature Genetics 1996). Marchuk’s work has also focused on cerebral cavernous malformations, hemangiomas, and hereditary spastic periplegia (with Nina Sherwood), and he has pioneered the development of murine models to identify genes involved in peripheral and central ischemia and cardiomyopathy (with Howard Rockman).

Marchuk has served in several key roles in the department, including chairing the departmental faculty search committees in 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 that resulted in the recruitment of Jörn Coers, Debra Silver and David Tobin. Marchuk has also developed and taught the graduate grant writing course as well as the human genetics course for many years. His contributions to education were recognized with the 2010 Gordon Hammes Faculty Teaching Award.

“The appointment to Vice Chair represents a true distinction, and Doug Marchuk is highly deserving of this position,” Heitman said. “I am excited about the energy, commitment, and record of accomplishment that Doug brings to both administration of the department and to considerations of future directions that will advance the departmental missions in research, training, and education.”