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Biology professor Michael Laub named a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator

Five-year appointment will support research on how cells regulate their behavior in response to an external environment.
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Michael Laub
Michael Laub
Photo: Aynsley Floyd

Michael Laub, associate professor of biology, has been selected to become a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) investigator.

Laub is one of 26 of the nation's top biomedical researchers to be distinguished by HHMI with such an appointment. HHMI investigators are chosen for the originality of their research. The five-year renewable appointment provides scientists with salary, benefits, and a budget for research and other expenses so that they have the freedom to pursue creative new directions in research.

Laub studies how cells regulate their behavior in response to an external environment where factors such as temperature, acidity, and chemical stimuli are always changing. While cells are subject to a barrage of external information, they interpret and respond to their complex environment with great precision.

To understand how cells accomplish this feat, Laub methodically probes two-component signaling proteins in Caulobacter crescentus to elucidate the role of each pair of proteins in orchestrating DNA replication and repair, cell division, and other phases in the cell's life cycle. He also examines how bacterial protein kinases discriminate among structurally similar transcription factors to interact only with the correct one. Overall, his research program not only decodes the molecular basis of the complex behavior of bacterial cells, but illuminates how that complexity evolved from just a few basic components.

Laub joined the MIT faculty in the Department of Biology in 2006 after spending four years at Harvard University's Center for System Biology as an independent research fellow. He received his BS at the University of California at San Diego in 1997 and in 2002 completed his doctoral work in developmental biology at Stanford University. He is currently an associate member of the Broad Institute and a lecturer in the Department of Microbiology and Medical Genetics at Harvard Medical School.

Laub was selected for a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) in 2010, and in 2009 was named an HHMI Early Career Scientist and won a CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation.

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