Barbara Wold

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Barbara Jane Wold
ISMB12-Jul16-009 (7803490110).jpg
NationalityUnited States
Alma materArizona State University (Tempe), California Institute of Technology
Scientific career
FieldsDevelopmental Biology and Genetics, Systems Biology
InstitutionsBeckman Institute, California Institute of Technology

Barbara J. Wold is the Bren Professor of Molecular Biology,[1] the principal investigator of the Wold Lab[2] at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and the principal investigator of the Functional Genomics Resource Center at the Beckman Institute at Caltech.[3] Wold was Director of the Beckman Institute at Caltech from 2001-2011.[4]


Barbara Wold graduated with a B. S. in zoology from Arizona State University (Tempe) in 1973. She was inspired by laboratory work with zoology professor Shelby Gerking and developmental biologist Jerry Justus, and lectures with professor emerita Kathleen Church. While at ASU, Wold became interested in understanding the informational code that regulates gene expression.[1] She also met her husband, geophysicist Lawrence "Larry" Burdick.[1]

Wold received a Ph.D. in molecular developmental biology from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in 1978,[5] studying genome structure and gene regulation during embryo development.[6] She was appointed as a postdoctoral research fellow at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1978.[5] There she developed methods for assaying cis-regulatory element function.[6]


Wold in 1986

In 1981, Wold returned to Caltech as an Assistant Professor in the Biology department. She was promoted to Associate Professor in 1988 and Full Professor in 1996, holding the position until 2002. She became Bren Professor of Molecular Biology as of 2003.[7]

Wold helped to found the L. K. Whittier Gene Expression Center at Caltech in 1999, with Stephen Quake and Mel Simon, collaborating with the Human Genome Project.[8] She has also been involved in establishing the Center for Biological Circuit Design at Caltech.[9] She has been an advisor to the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Energy in the area of genomics.[5][10]

Wold was Director of the Beckman Institute at Caltech from 2001-2011, succeeding founding director Harry B. Gray.[5] As of January 30, 2012, she was succeeded as Director by David A. Tirrell.[4]


Barbara Wold has published more than sixty papers in the areas of developmental biology and genetics.[5] Throughout her career, Wold has focused on exploring the architecture and logic of gene networks, in an effort to understand the mechanisms that drive cell state transitions in the development and differentiation of individual cells. Beginning with undifferentiated precursor cells, Wold and her lab have focused particularly on transitions from mesodermal cells in early development to fully developed skeletal muscle and cardiac muscle in animals. Various techniques are used to study skeletal muscle development, degeneration and regeneration.[2]

Much of Wold's recent work focuses on biological information processing, developing and using new techniques such as ultra-high-throughput DNA sequencing techniques[11] to computationally model the inputs and outputs of gene networks. She studies embryonic development and regeneration in vertebrates, examining transcriptional networks and using comparative genomics to model mouse, human and dog genomes. This work is leading to increased understanding of direct transcriptional regulation and of post-transcriptional and translational mechanisms and their mediation by microRNAs.[12] Wold's goal is a deep understanding of biological circuit design and the mechanisms of genetics and cell development.[9]

Awards and honors[edit]

  • 2014, School of Life Sciences (SOLS) Distinguished Alumni Award, Arizona State University[1]
  • 1983, Searle Scholars Program[13]


  1. ^ a b c d Coulombe, Peggy (November 10, 2010). "ASU's Barbara Wold to receive SOLS alumni award". ASU School of Life Sciences. Retrieved 9 September 2015.
  2. ^ a b "People". Wold Lab. Archived from the original on 14 September 2015. Retrieved 10 September 2015.
  3. ^ "Functional Genomics Resource Center". Beckman Institute. Retrieved 10 September 2015.
  4. ^ a b "Caltech Professor David Tirrell Named Director of the Beckman Institute". About Caltech. Retrieved 10 September 2015.
  5. ^ a b c d e "Caltech biologist Barbara Wold named Beckman Institute director". Caltech News & Events. November 8, 2001.
  6. ^ a b "Barbara Wold". Institute for Genomics and Systems Biology (IGSB). University of Chicago. Retrieved 3 October 2015.
  7. ^ "Barbara J. Wold". Caltech. Retrieved 3 October 2015.
  8. ^ "Caltech Receives $1.4 Million for L. K. Whittier Gene Expression Center". Caltech News. March 25, 1999. Retrieved 10 September 2015.
  9. ^ a b Center for Biological Circuit Design (2003). "Circuitry and Liquid Algorithms—A New Bioengineering Frontier Takes Form: A Conversation with Niles Pierce, Paul Sternberg, Erik Winfree, and Barbara Wold". ENGenius. Winter (3): 19–22. Retrieved 10 September 2015.
  10. ^ Tindol, Robert (June 26, 2000). "Caltech and the Human Genome Project". Caltech News and Events. Retrieved 4 October 2015.
  11. ^ Fesenmaier, Kimm (April 12, 2012). "Determining a Stem Cell's Fate". Caltech News & Events. Retrieved 4 October 2015.
  12. ^ Mortazavi, A.; Thompson, E. C. L.; Garcia, S. T.; Myers, R. M.; Wold, B. (1 October 2006). "Comparative genomics modeling of the NRSF/REST repressor network: From single conserved sites to genome-wide repertoire". Genome Research. 16 (10): 1208–1221. doi:10.1101/gr.4997306. PMC 1581430. PMID 16963704.
  13. ^ "Scholar Profile Barbara J. Wold". Searle Scholars Program. Retrieved 10 September 2015.