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Biologist Receives Award Citing His Genetics Research

Caltech biologist Edward B. Lewis, one of a handful of genetic researchers popularly known as the “Lords of the Flies” because they have used the common fruit fly to probe the secrets of genetic development, has been awarded the Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award.

The Pennsylvania-born Lewis, 73, is Caltech’s Thomas Hunt Morgan professor of biology. He has been a member of the school’s faculty since 1946.

Using fruit fly specimens, he discovered a cluster of genes that controls how the body segments develop. His research ultimately led to the discovery by other geneticists of the “homeobox,” a master regulator of development found in all organisms.

According to the award citation, Lewis’ work “has laid the foundation for most of what is known today about the evolution, structure and function of control genes, which regulate development of specific regions of the body.”

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Lewis shares the $15,000 award with Christiane Nusslein-Volhard, who has done fruit fly research in Germany.


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