Edward Rubin

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Edward "Eddy" Rubin, director of the U.S. Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute

Edward M. "Eddy" Rubin is an internationally known geneticist and medical researcher at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, California and has served as the director of the Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute (DOE JGI) since 2002. After serving as DOE JGI Director for 14 years, Rubin stepped down in March 2016 to become the Chief Scientific Officer at Metabiota, a big data analytics start-up focused on infectious diseases and epidemic risk.


Dr. Rubin received his B.A. degree in physics from the University of California, San Diego, and both his Ph.D. in biophysics and his M.D. from the University of Rochester. Following a genetics fellowship at the University of California, San Francisco, he became a research associate at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Dr. Rubin joined Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) in 1989 and led the Laboratory’s Genome Sciences Department from 1998 to 2002, before taking over the helm of the DOE JGI. Dr. Rubin oversaw the DOE JGI's involvement in the Human Genome Project, during which time the DOE JGI completed the sequencing and analyses of chromosomes 5, 16 and 19. After that project, he reoriented the DOE JGI toward applying genomics to studies related to bioenergy and the environment, sequencing and analyzing thousands of genomes of plants, fungi and microbes.


Dr. Rubin’s early scientific work centered on the functional exploration of the human genome, harnessing sequence comparisons between species for the discovery of genes and non-coding sequences of pivotal evolutionary and biomedical importance. His work on evolutionarily conserved noncoding regions helped highlight the utility of genome comparisons to decode gene regulation. The Rubin Laboratory has also pioneered the genetic engineering of mice subsequently used as animal models for common human disorders including sickle cell anemia, atherosclerosis, and asthma.

Dr. Rubin and his DOE JGI collaborators have played a leading role in the emerging field of metagenomics—sequencing and characterizing DNA extracted directly from environmental samples—to obtain an overview of community function and population dynamics. The environments studied included termite hind guts, gutless worms, acid mine drainage sites, sheep and cow rumen and 40,000-year-old Neanderthal remains.

A focus of his recent research at Metabiota has been to apply large-scale genomics towards the discovery and early detection of emerging infectious diseases.

Awards and accomplishments:

Dr. Rubin serves on the editorial boards of several leading journals, and was for a decade a member of the journal Science’s Board of Reviewing Editors. He received an Honorary Doctorate of Science from Middlebury College, the University of Rochester Dean’s Award, the Netherlands Heart Association Declaration of Esteem, the American Heart Association Established Investigator Award and has been inducted into the American Society of Clinical Investigation. Dr. Rubin has published over 250 peer-reviewed manuscripts many of which have appeared in the most high impact journals Science and Nature. In addition to his research, Rubin has trained more than 50 scientists who have moved on from his laboratory to serve as faculty at leading institutions. He sits on the scientific advisory boards of multiple technology companies and public research organizations, and is a member of the Jackson Laboratory Board of Trustees.

Select publications[edit]

MICROBIOME. A unified initiative to harness Earth's microbiomes. Science. 2015 Oct 30;350(6260):507-8. doi: 10.1126/science.aac8480. Epub 2015 Oct 28.

Woyke T, Rubin EM. Searching for new branches on the tree of life. Science. 2014 Nov 7;346(6210):698-9. doi: 10.1126/science.1258871.

Ivanova N et al. Stop codon reassignments in the wild. Science. 2014 344 (6186): 909-913.

Rinke C et al. Insights into the phylogeny and coding potential of microbial dark matter. Nature. 2013 499, 431–437.

Hess M et al. Metagenomic discovery of biomass-degrading genes and genomes from cow rumen. Science. 2011 28;331(6016):463-7.

Rubin EM. Genomics of cellulosic biofuels. Nature. 2008 454(7206):841-5.

Sorek R et al. Genome-wide experimental determination of barriers to horizontal gene transfer. Science. 2007 318(5855):1449-52.

Noonan JP et al. Sequencing and analysis of Neanderthal genomic DNA. Science. 2006 Nov 17;314(5802):1113-8.

Tringe SG et al. Comparative metagenomics of microbial communities. Science. 2005; 22;308(5721):554-7.