Then: 1991 Beckman Young Investigator Award Recipient, Carnegie Institution for Science
Now: Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology, University of California, Berkeley
AMBF: When you heard about the Beckman Young Investigator opportunity, what inspired you to apply?
DK: The idea to have funding that would give me the freedom to pursue a high risk-high gain project.
AMBF: What was your research focused on? What were the results?
DK: We developed a cytological technique that allowed us to follow macro features of chromosome structure like sister chromatid cohesion and chromosome condensation in budding yeast. The structure of budding yeast chromosomes were thought to be irrelevant to bacteria or humans. This method allowed us to perform genetic screens to identify cellular components that mediate chromosome structure. This screen and subsequent characterization of the genes by my laboratory and others led to the identification of conserved family of proteins that mediate chromosome structure in all organisms. These proteins have important biomedical roles in cancer and birth defects.
AMBF: Have you always has a curiosity in science?
DK: Nope. I was good at science but my major interests were sports. I was a jock, until college. I got opportunities to work in laboratories and realized that the day went by without looking at the clock.
AMBF: What effect did being named a Beckman Young Investigator have on your career?
DK: The methodology I developed with the Beckman award and the subsequent use of that technology led to discoveries that are the foundation of my whole scientific career.
AMBF: Do you have any advice for PI’s thinking about applying?
DK: Think out of the box.