Charles Cantor

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Charles R. Cantor
Born26 August 1942
Alma materColumbia University (BA)
University of California, Berkeley (PhD)
Known forPulse field gel electrophoresis
Scientific career
FieldsMolecular genetics
InstitutionsColumbia University
University of California, Berkeley
Doctoral advisorIgnacio Tinoco Jr.

Charles R. Cantor[1] (born 1942) is an American molecular geneticist who, in conjunction with David Schwartz, developed pulse field gel electrophoresis for very large DNA molecules.[2] Cantor's three-volume book, Biophysical Chemistry[3] [4] [5] co-authored with Paul Schimmel, was an influential textbook in the 1980s and 1990s.


Charles Cantor received his AB from Columbia University in 1963 and PhD from University of California, Berkeley in 1966.[1]

He is Director of the Center for Advanced Biotechnology at Boston University.[6] While on a two-year sabbatical acting as Chief Scientific Officer at Sequenom, Inc. he maintained his research laboratory at Boston University. He is also a co-founder and Director of Retrotope, a US-based company using heavier isotopes of carbon (13C) and hydrogen (2H, deuterium) to stabilize essential compounds like amino acids, nucleic acids and lipids to target age-related diseases.[7][8]

Cantor held positions at Columbia University (1981–1989)[9] and the University of California, Berkeley (1989–1992),[9] before moving to Boston University in 1992.[9] In 2017 he became Professor Adjunct in Molecular Medicine at Scripps Research.[9]

He has been director of the Department of Energy Human Genome Project and Chairman of the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Boston University.

He is a consultant to more than 16 biotech firms, has published more than 400 peer reviewed articles, been granted 54 US patents, and co-authored a three-volume textbook on Biophysical Chemistry.



Charles Cantor obtained his Ph.D. in the group of Ignacio Tinoco, with whom he published work on the optical properties of nucleotides.[10] In post-doctoral work with Thomas Jukes he studied repetitive sequences in polypeptides,[11] but most of his independent research has concerned nucleic acids, from his early work with nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR)[12] and repetitive sequences in polydeoxyribonucleotides.[13] onwards.

Cantor’s laboratory at Boston University has developed methods for separating large DNA molecules, for studying structural relationships in complex proteins and nucleic acids, and for sensitive detection of proteins and nucleic acids in a variety of settings. His work has been very highly cited, with five papers cited more than 1000 times each: 2709 citations of work on a toggle switch in Escherichia coli,[14] 2594 of his paper on microtubule assembly,[15] 2412 on his paper on pulsed field gradient gel-electrophoresis,[16] 1437 on the launching of the ENCODE project (with about 200 authors),[17] and 1176 on a study of noise in gene expression.[18]


Cantor's reviews include one on the physical chemistry of nucleic acids.[19]


Cantor co-authored Biophysical Chemistry with Paul Schimmel, which was published in three volumes: Part 1, The Conformation of Biological Macromolecules;[3] Part 2, Techniques for the Study of Biological Structure and Function;[4] Part 3, The Behavior of Biological Macromolecules[5]

With Cassandra Smith, he wrote Genomics: The Science and Technology Behind the Human Genome Project.[20]


  1. ^ a b "CV of Dr. Charles Cantor - Institute of Biophysics" (PDF). Institute of Biophysics of Chinese Academy of Sciences. August 2010. Retrieved August 18, 2020.
  2. ^ Schwartz, David C.; Cantor, Charles R. (1984). "Separation of yeast chromosome-sized DNAs by pulsed field gradient gel electrophoresis". Cell. 37 (1): 67–75. doi:10.1016/0092-8674(84)90301-5. PMID 6373014. S2CID 30743288.
  3. ^ a b Cantor, Charles R.; Schimmel, Paul R. (15 March 1980). Biophysical Chemistry: Part I: The Conformation of Biological Macromolecules. ISBN 978-0716711889.
  4. ^ a b Cantor, Charles R.; Schimmel, Paul R. (15 April 1980). Biophysical Chemistry: Part II: Techniques for the Study of Biological Structure and Function. ISBN 978-0716711902.
  5. ^ a b Cantor, Charles R.; Schimmel, Paul R. (15 June 1980). Biophysical Chemistry: Part III: The Behavior of Biological Macromolecules. ISBN 978-0716711926.
  6. ^ "Charles Cantor".
  7. ^ "Heavy hydrogen keeps yeast looking good".
  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-07-15. Retrieved 2011-02-01.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  9. ^ a b c d "Cantor, Charles". Retrieved 26 April 2021.
  10. ^ Cantor, Charles R.; Tinoco, Ignacio (1965). "Absorption and Optical Rotatory Dispersion of Seven Trinucleoside Diphosphates". Journal of Molecular Biology. 13 (1): 65–77. doi:10.1016/S0022-2836(65)80080-8. PMID 5859044.
  11. ^ Cantor, C. R.; Jukes, T. H. (1966). "The repetition of homologous sequences in the polypeptide chains of certain cytochromes and globins". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 56 (1): 177–184. Bibcode:1966PNAS...56..177C. doi:10.1073/pnas.56.1.177. PMC 285692. PMID 5229846.
  12. ^ Newmark, R. A.; Cantor, Charles R. (1968). "Nuclear magnetic resonance study of the interactions of guanosine and cytidine in dimethyl sulfoxide". Journal of the American Chemical Society. 90 (18): 5010–5017. doi:10.1021/ja01020a041. PMID 5665545.
  13. ^ Wells, R.D.; Larson, J.E.; Grant, R.C.; Shortle, B.E.; Cantor, C.R. (1970). "Physicochemical studies on polydeoxyribonucleotides containing defined repeating nucleotide sequences". Journal of Molecular Biology. 54 (3): 465–497. doi:10.1016/0022-2836(70)90121-X. PMID 5492018.
  14. ^ Gardner, Timothy S.; Cantor, Charles R.; Collins, James J. (2000). "Construction of a genetic toggle switch in Escherichia coli". Nature. 403 (6767): 339–342. Bibcode:2000Natur.403..339G. doi:10.1038/35002131. PMID 10659857. S2CID 345059.
  15. ^ Shelanski, M. L.; Gaskin, F.; Cantor, C. R. (1973). "Microtubule Assembly in the Absence of Added Nucleotides". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 70 (3): 765–768. Bibcode:1973PNAS...70..765S. doi:10.1073/pnas.70.3.765. PMC 433354. PMID 4514990.
  16. ^ Schwartz, D C; Cantor, C R (1984). "Separation of yeast chromosome-sized DNAs by pulsed field gradient gel-electrophoresis". Cell. 37 (1): 67–75. doi:10.1016/0092-8674(84)90301-5. PMID 6373014. S2CID 30743288.
  17. ^ ENCODE Project Consortium (2004). "The ENCODE (ENCyclopedia of DNA Elements) Project". Science. 306 (5696): 636–640. Bibcode:2004Sci...306..636E. doi:10.1126/science.1105136. PMID 15499007. S2CID 22837649.
  18. ^ Blake, William J.; Kærn, Mads; Cantor, Charles R.; Collins, J. J. (2003). "Noise in eukaryotic gene expression". Nature. 422 (6932): 633–637. Bibcode:2003Natur.422..633B. doi:10.1038/nature01546. PMID 12687005. S2CID 4347106.
  19. ^ Cantor, C. R.; Katz, L. (1971). "Nucleic Acids". Annual Review of Physical Chemistry. 22: 25–46. Bibcode:1971ARPC...22...25C. doi:10.1146/annurev.pc.22.100171.000325.
  20. ^ Cantor, Charles R.; Cantor, Cassandra L. (1999). Genomics: The Science and Technology Behind the Human Genome Project. New York: Wiley-Interscience. ISBN 978-0471599081.

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