IGSB Sr. Fellow Manyuan Long has been named the inaugural Edna K. Papazian Distinguished Service Professor

Division of the Biological Sciences
Manyuan Long, has been named the inaugural Edna K. Papazian Distinguished Service Professor.

Long is an international expert on genetics and evolutionary biology, with a research focus on the origin and evolution of genes with novel functions. By applying biological and computational techniques to the genetics of the popular model organisms and their relatives, e.g. the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, Arabidopsis plants, and mice, Long’s laboratory has discovered thousands of novel genes as well as genetic mechanisms important in the evolution of all species.

Research from Long’s laboratory has profoundly influenced the field of evolutionary genetics. A 2004 study discovered a high rate of “gene traffic” on the mammalian X chromosome, reversing a conclusion of the Human Genome Project. In a 2008 Science paper, Long’s laboratory discovered that there were unexpected numbers of evolutionarily unfixed new gene duplicates within the fruit fly populations. Another 2010 paper published in Science by his team discovered that genes that arose recently in the Drosophila genus can be just as critical for life as ancient genes, overturning a long-held assumption in the field of evolutionary genetics.

Long joined the UChicago faculty in 1997 as a member of the Department of Ecology and Evolution, the Committees on Genetics and Evolutionary Biology, and The College, and was promoted to full professor in 2005. A native of Luzhou, China, Long graduated from Sichuan Agricultural University with a bachelor’s degree in agronomy (1982) and a master’s degree in plant genetics (1985).

He then came to the United States to study genetics at the University of California, Davis, where he graduated with a PhD in 1992. From 1993-97, he served as a postdoctoral researcher in the laboratories of Nobel Laureate Walter Gilbert and famed population geneticist Richard Lewontin at Harvard University.

In his career, Long has published more than 100 research papers, served on the editorial boards of journals including Genetics, the Journal of Molecular Evolution, and Molecular and Developmental Evolution. Honors and awards include the David and Lucile Packard Fellowship for Science and Engineering in 1998, the National Science Foundation CAREER Award in 2003, and election to the Council of the International Society of Molecular Biology and Evolution as secretary in 2009. Long is the author of a 2003 textbook, Origin and Evolution of New Gene Functions, and recently completed work on a second book, Darwin’s Heritage Today.

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