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For Immediate Release

Thursday, January 15, 2015



Genetics Society of America names John Postlethwait as recipient of George W. Beadle Award

Award recognizes outstanding contributions to the community of genetics researchers


BETHESDA, MD – The Genetics Society of America (GSA) is pleased to announce that John H. Postlethwait, PhD (University of Oregon) has been selected to receive the Society's George W. Beadle Award for outstanding contributions to the community of genetics researchers. The award, whose namesake was a Nobel laureate and geneticist, recognizes Dr. Postlethwait's seminal contributions to the zebrafish community. Dr. Postlethwait will receive the honor next week at GSA's 6th Strategic Conference of Zebrafish Investigators, January 17–21, in Pacific Grove, CA.


"Dr. Postlethwait's work began the molecular genetic era of zebrafish research and has helped to demystify the evolution of genes and genomes," said Alex Schier, PhD, Leo Erikson Life Sciences Professor and Chair of Molecular and Cellular Biology at Harvard University, and an organizer of next week's conference. "He has also strengthened the zebrafish community through his generous data sharing, collaborative spirit, and help for dozens of labs in mutation and gene mapping."


John H. Postlethwait, PhD

Professor of Biology

Institute of Neuroscience

University of Oregon, USA

Lab website:

Photo: Dr. Postlethwait with icefish in Antarctica.


One of Dr. Postlethwait's most valuable contributions to the zebrafish community was his groundbreaking research that established this organism as a model system for vertebrate genetics. He built the first genetic map for zebrafish, which spurred the discovery and functional characterization of numerous genes involved in development, and showed that the zebrafish genome, along with that of distantly related teleost fish, had been duplicated. The Duplication-Degeneration-Complementation (DDC) model he proposed was a major conceptual advance that yielded insight into the mechanisms governing the evolutionary fate of duplicated genes. Dr. Postlethwait played an integral role in the zebrafish genome sequencing project, and his additional work has elucidated the genomic organization of several fish species. Recently, his research revealed that the zebrafish strains used in laboratories lack the natural sex determination system of their wild counterparts. His current research also focuses on the evolution of vertebrate genomes and the search for therapies in zebrafish models of disease. In addition to his technological, conceptual, and research contributions to the community, Dr. Postlethwait is especially honored for his active involvement with the zebrafish community, advocacy for zebrafish as a model system, and commitment to driving the field of zebrafish genetics forward.


Dr. Postlethwait has authored nearly 250 scientific publications as well as several biology textbooks. Early in his career, he received a Research Career Development Award from the National Institutes of Health as well as the Ersted Award for Distinguished Teaching from the University of Oregon. In 2007, he received the Medical Research Foundation Discovery Award for significant, original contributions to health-related research and the Oregon Discovers Achievement Award. In 2009, Dr. Postlethwait received the Humboldt Research Award to study mechanisms involved in Fanconi anemia.


The George W. Beadle Award, established by GSA in 1999, honors individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the community of genetics researchers and who exemplify the qualities of its namesake as a respected academic, administrator, and public servant. Beadle (1903–1989) served as the President of GSA in 1946; he was awarded the 1958 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his work with Edward L. Tatum in discovering that genes act by regulating definite chemical events.


To learn more about the GSA awards, and to view a list of previous recipients, please see


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About the Genetics Society of America (GSA)

Founded in 1931, the Genetics Society of America (GSA) is the professional scientific society for genetics researchers and educators. The Society’s more than 5,000 members worldwide work to deepen our understanding of the living world by advancing the field of genetics, from the molecular to the population level. GSA promotes research and fosters communication through a number of GSA-sponsored conferences including regular meetings that focus on particular model organisms. GSA publishes two peer-reviewed, peer-edited scholarly journals: GENETICS, which has published high quality original research across the breadth of the field since 1916, and G3: Genes|Genomes|Genetics, an open-access journal launched in 2011 to disseminate high quality foundational research in genetics and genomics. The Society also has a deep commitment to education and fostering the next generation of scholars in the field. For more information about GSA, please visit


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