Gerald Fink

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Gerald Fink
BornJuly 1, 1940 (1940-07) (age 80)
Alma materAmherst College
Yale University (Ph.D.)
AwardsNAS Award in Molecular Biology (1981)[1]
Genetics Society of America Medal (1982)[2]
Emil Christian Hansen Foundation Award for Microbiology, Denmark (1986)[3]
Genetics Society of America George W. Beadle Award (2001)[4]
Gruber Prize in Genetics (2010)[5]
MIT Killian Faculty Achievement Award (2019)[6]
Genetics Society of America Thomas Hunt Morgan Medal (2020)[7]
Scientific career
FieldsBiochemistry, Genetics
InstitutionsCornell University, Yale University, Whitehead Institute, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Gerald Ralph Fink (born July 1, 1940) is an American biologist, who was Director of the Whitehead Institute at MIT from 1990–2001.[8] He graduated from Amherst College in 1962 and received a Ph.D. from Yale University in 1965,[9] having elucidated the histidine pathway in the yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae. After postdoctoral study at the National Institutes of Health with Bruce Ames on the regulation of the histidine operon of Salmonella, in 1967 he joined Cornell University where he became a Professor of Genetics and pursued the study of the HIS4 region of yeast.[10] In 1982 he became a founding member of the Whitehead Institute[11][12] and Professor of Genetics at MIT. Dr. Fink was elected to the United States National Academy of Sciences in 1981, to the Institute of Medicine in 1996, and to the American Philosophical Society in 2003.[13]

Fink taught a course in the Molecular Biology of Yeast at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory for 16 years. Many of these students as well as his university students went on to have successful careers in molecular biology.[14]

In 1977, Fink and his students Albert Hinnen and Jim Hicks, discovered a method to transform yeast cells, a procedure that allows scientists to introduce genetic material (DNA) from another organism into living yeast cells so that the expression and hereditability of the introduced DNA can be studied.[15][16] This transformation procedure is not only essential for basic research, but is used to produce vaccines and other medically important products in yeast.[17]

In 1992 Fink and his students discovered that bakers’ yeast could switch from a cellular form to a filamentous form.[18][19][20] This switch is important for many disease-causing fungi of both plants and animals.[21]

In 2003 Fink chaired a National Research Council Committee that resulted in a highly influential report, Biotechnology Research in an Age of Terrorism: Confronting the Dual Use Dilemma ( This report recommended practices that could improve the capacity to prevent the destructive application of biotechnology research while still enabling legitimate research to be conducted.[11]

Fink has won the National Academy of Sciences Award in Molecular Biology (1981), the Genetics Society of America Medal, (1982), the Emil Christian Hansen Award for Microbiology (1986), the George W. Beadle Award (2001), and the Gruber Prize in Genetics (2010).[9] In 2020 he was awarded the Thomas Hunt Morgan Medal by the Genetics Society of America. [7]

Fink is the husband of Rosalie Fink,[22] an educator and author of books on learning disabilities.[23] They have two daughters.[15]


  1. ^ Gerald R. Fink
  2. ^ Genetics Society of America Medal
  3. ^ Professor Jens Nielsen is awarded the Emil Christian Hansen Gold Medal
  4. ^ Orr-Weaver, Terry; Jones, Elizabeth W. (February 1, 2002). "The 2001 George W. Beadle Medal: Gerald R. Fink". Genetics. 160 (2): 371–373. ISSN 0016-6731. PMC 1461974. PMID 11894820.
  5. ^ Gerald Fink awarded 2010 Gruber Genetics Prize
  6. ^ Gerald Fink wins faculty Killian award
  7. ^ a b "Gerald Fink awarded the Genetic Society of America's Thomas Hunt Morgan Medal". MIT. Retrieved February 5, 2020.
  8. ^ "Gerald R. Fink, PhD". Faculty Profiles. Whitehead Institutute. Retrieved February 7, 2011.
  9. ^ a b Gerald R. Fink
  10. ^ Fink, GR (2009). "Getting along with a little help from my friends". J. Biol. Chem. 284 (36): 23885–90. doi:10.1074/jbc.X109.029389. PMC 2781982. PMID 19515841.
  11. ^ a b Security, National Research Council (US) Committee on a New Government-University Partnership for Science and (2007). "Biosecurity and Dual-Use Research in the Life Sciences". National Academies Press (US). Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  12. ^ Founders
  13. ^ Biotechnology, National Research Council (US) Committee on Research Standards and Practices to Prevent the Destructive Application of (2004). "Biographical Sketches of Committee Members". National Academies Press (US). Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  14. ^ A Conversation with Gerry Fink (7/9/2008)
  15. ^ a b "Gerald Fink". Faculty Profiles. Gruber foundations Yale. Retrieved December 13, 2019.
  16. ^ "Transformation of yeast." Hinnen A, Hicks JB, and Fink GR, "Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A", 1978 Apr;75(4):1929-33. [1]
  17. ^ Harman, Robin J. "Development and Control of Medicines and Medical Devices". Pharmaceutical Press, 2004, p.8.
  18. ^ "Unipolar cell divisions in the yeast S. cerevisiae lead to filamentous growth: Regulation by starvation and RAS", Gimeno CJ, Ljungdahl PO, Styles CA, and Fink GR, "Cell", 1992 Mar 20;68(6):1077-90.
  19. ^ Feldmann, Horst. "Yeast: Molecular and Cell Biology". Wiley-VCH, 2010, p. 110.
  20. ^ "Gerald Fink | Gruber Foundation".
  21. ^ Calderone, Richard A. and Cihlar, Ronald L. "Fungal Pathogenesis: Principles and Clinical Applications". CRC Press, 2002, p. 499.
  22. ^ Fink, GR (September 4, 2009). "Getting along with a little help from my friends". The Journal of Biological Chemistry. 284 (36): 23885–90. doi:10.1074/jbc.X109.029389. PMC 2781982. PMID 19515841.
  23. ^ "About Rosalie Fink".