Philip A. Beachy
|Philip A. Beachy|
October 25, 1958|
Red Lake, Ontario
|Institutions||Stanford University School of Medicine|
|Alma mater||Stanford University|
|Known for||Hedgehog signaling pathway|
Philip Arden Beachy (born October 25, 1958) is Ernest and Amelia Gallo Professor at Stanford University School of Medicine in Palo Alto, California and an Associate at Stanford's Institute of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine.
Beachy has received numerous awards and prizes for his work, including the Outstanding Young Scientist Award from the Maryland Academy of Sciences in 1997 and the National Academy of Sciences Award in Molecular Biology in 1998. In 2008, Beachy received the March of Dimes Prize in Developmental Biology.
Early Life and Education
Philip A. Beachy was born in Red Lake, Ontario on October 25, 1958. Beachy spent eight of his early years of life in the hills of central Puerto Rico. His father was a pastor of a rural church. He attended a school taught in Spanish during the day and then learned to read and write English once he came home from school. At nine, Beachy and his family returned to their home base of Goshen, Indiana where he began attending public school. At the early age of 16, Beachy headed off to Goshen College which was very close to home. At this time, Beachy still did not know of his love for science. “Unlike many people who knew they were going to be scientists from a very early age, I didn't decide that I would try to become a scientist until fairly late on in college,” he says.
Beachy received his bachelor’s degree in natural sciences at Goshen College. Beachy first envisioned himself as a doctor, but after his first year of college, he decided against pursuing that career. He then decided to focus on biological research. He became interested in this field after reading a serialized form of Horace Freeland Judson’s book, The Eighth Day of Creation in The New Yorker. "Reading those articles got me excited about molecular biology," says Beachy . After graduating, he decided to do take chemistry courses and do more research at the nearby South Bend campus of Indiana University. A year later, he decided to attend graduate school at Stanford University. There, he studied the molecular genetics behind fruit fly development with David Hogness.
Beachy eventually earned his Ph.D in biochemistry in 1986 at Stanford.
After receiving his Ph.D, he began working at the Carnegie Institution’s Department of Embryology in Baltimore for two years. After his short time there, he accepted a faculty position at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Beachy began focusing on the Drosophila hedgehog gene, for which he’s known for, in 1990. The gene’s name originated because fly embryos look spikey if the hedgehog gene is faulty or mutated. The hedgehog gene’s main function is to create protein signals in specific cells. These signals, in turn, allow for the formation of embryonic tissues. They do this by instructing neighboring cells to become a certain type of differentiated cell or to simply divide. In other words, this gene is responsible for the development of the appendages and body segments in Drosophila or fruit flies. Humans and other invertebrates have hedgehog genes that behave slightly different than the same gene in the fruit fly. In vertebrates, the hedgehog gene codes for the fingers and toes on the limbs. It also functions in organizing the brain and the spinal cord. Consequently, mutated hedgehog genes often cause birth defects. Also, if it is activated later in life, certain cancers can be triggered and begin to spread.
In 2006, Beachy left Johns Hopkins and began working for Stanford University’s Department of Developmental Biology. He also works for Stanford’s Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine. He is now still interested in the function of hedgehog proteins. He is also looking for other extracellular signals in pattern formation and in the repair of injuries.
In 2006, Beachy moved from Johns Hopkins to Stanford University's Department of Developmental Biology and its Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine. He is interested in the function of Hedgehog proteins and other extracellular signals in morphogenesis (pattern formation) and in injury repair and regeneration (pattern maintenance), in particular the normal roles of such signals in stem cell physiology and their abnormal roles in the formation and expansion of cancer stem cells. He is also interested in how the distribution of such signals is regulated in tissues, how cells perceive and respond to distinct concentrations of signals, and how such signaling pathways arose in evolution.
- Marquis Who's Who TM. Marquis Who's Who, 2008.
- "Book of Members, 1780-2010: Chapter B". American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved May 28, 2011.