Harris Lewin

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Harris Lewin
Brooklyn, N.Y.[2]
AwardsWolf Prize in Agriculture
Academic background
Alma materCornell University
University of California, Davis
Thesis (1984)
Academic work
InstitutionsUniversity of Illinois
University of California, Davis
Main interestsbiologist
Notable ideasgenomics and immunogenetics

Harris A. Lewin,[1] an American biologist, is a professor of evolution and ecology and Robert and Rosabel Osborne Endowed Chair at the University of California, Davis. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences.[3] In 2011, Lewin won the Wolf Prize in Agriculture for his research into cattle genomics.[3][4] Lewin chairs the working group for the Earth BioGenome Project, a moonshot for biology that aims to sequence, catalog, and characterize the genomes of all of Earth’s eukaryotic biodiversity over a period of 10 years.[5]


Lewin studied at Cornell University and earned his B.S. in Animal Science in 1979 and M.S. in Animal Breeding and Genetics in 1981. He was awarded his Ph.D. in Immunology from the University of California, Davis in 1984.[6][7][8][9] He then worked at the University of Illinois.[3] In 2003, he served as the founding director of the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology.[10][4] In 2009, he and a team of researchers fully sequenced the cow genome.[4]

Lewin served as vice chancellor for research at University of California, Davis from 2011 until 2016. In 2016 he returned to the faculty in the University of California, Davis Department of Evolution and Ecology and the Genome Center.[11] Lewin is a member of a group biologists that propose to sequence the DNA of all life on Earth.[12]

Lewin was senior author of a study that revealed one of the most prolific bulls in the history of Holstein cattle breeding, Pawnee Farm Arlinda Chief, had a lethal gene mutation estimated to have caused half million spontaneous cow abortions worldwide.[13][14][15][16] Lewin collaborated with researchers from the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique in France for a study that used RNA-sequencing to highlight problems with gene expression in cloned cattle.[17] In a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,[18] Lewin and his colleagues used an algorithm to computationally recreate the chromosomes of the first eutherian mammal, the long-extinct, shrewlike ancestor of all placental mammals.[19]

At the 48th World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, Lewin announced a landmark partnership between the Earth BioGenome Project and the Earth Bank of Codes to map the DNA of all the planet’s eukaryotes, some 1.5 million known species.[20][21] Lewin was the lead author for a perspective paper published April 23, 2018 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,Earth BioGenome Project: Sequencing life for the future of life.” In the paper, the 24 interdisciplinary experts who comprise the Earth BioGenome Project Working Group, outline a roadmap and rational for the project, which is estimated to cost $4.7 billion and take ten years.[5]


  1. ^ a b Azar, B (2016). "Profile of Harris A. Lewin". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 113 (51): 14468–14470. doi:10.1073/pnas.1618868114. PMC 5187711. PMID 27956630.
  2. ^ https://news.illinois.edu/view/6367/207861
  3. ^ a b c "Harris Lewin Elected to National Academy of Sciences". Agriculture Week  – via Highbeam (subscription required). 17 May 2012. Archived from the original on 9 April 2016. Retrieved 7 November 2015.
  4. ^ a b c "Illinoir Professor Awarded 2011 Wolf Prize In Agriculture". States News Service  – via Highbeam (subscription required). 15 February 2011. Archived from the original on 20 April 2016. Retrieved 7 November 2015.
  5. ^ a b Lewin, Harris A.; Robinson, Gene E.; Kress, W. John; Baker, William J.; Coddington, Jonathan; Crandall, Keith A.; Durbin, Richard; Edwards, Scott V.; Forest, Félix (2018-04-19). "Earth BioGenome Project: Sequencing life for the future of life". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: 201720115. doi:10.1073/pnas.1720115115. ISSN 0027-8424. PMID 29686065.
  6. ^ http://biosci3.ucdavis.edu/Faculty/Profile/View/14515
  7. ^ http://www.pnas.org/content/113/51/14468
  8. ^ http://www.igb.illinois.edu/labs/lewin/labweb/personnel/Harris.html
  9. ^ http://lewinlab.igb.uiuc.edu/Personnel/HarrisLewin.html
  10. ^ "History". Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology. Retrieved 7 November 2015.
  11. ^ "Research VC Lewin to Step Down". UC Davis. Retrieved 2017-07-27.
  12. ^ "Biologists propose to sequence the DNA of all life on Earth". Science | AAAS. 2017-02-24. Retrieved 2017-07-27.
  13. ^ "How a Genetic Mutation From 1 Bull Caused the Loss of Half a Million Calves Worldwide". UC Davis. Retrieved 2017-07-27.
  14. ^ Zhang, Sarah. "The Dairy Industry Lost $420 Million From a Flaw in a Single Bull". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2017-07-27.
  15. ^ AM, Douglas Main On 11/15/16 at 10:30 (2016-11-15). "One bull's genes gave 14 percent of U.S. dairy cows a deadly mutation". Newsweek. Retrieved 2017-07-27.
  16. ^ Redacción (2016-11-01). "El ejemplar de toro que con 16.000 crías transformó la industria lechera mundial". BBC Mundo. Retrieved 2017-07-27.
  17. ^ "Cow Gene Study Shows Why Most Clones Fail". UC Davis. Retrieved 2017-07-27.
  18. ^ Kim, Jaebum; Farré, Marta; Auvil, Loretta; Capitanu, Boris; Larkin, Denis M.; Ma, Jian; Lewin, Harris A. (2017-07-03). "Reconstruction and evolutionary history of eutherian chromosomes". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 114 (27): E5379–E5388. doi:10.1073/pnas.1702012114. ISSN 0027-8424. PMC 5502614. PMID 28630326.
  19. ^ "Reconstruction of Ancient Chromosomes Offers Insight Into Mammalian Evolution". UC Davis. Retrieved 2017-07-27.
  20. ^ "Earth BioGenome Project to Sequence All Life". UC Davis. Retrieved 2018-09-06.
  21. ^ "New Partnership Aims to Sequence Genomes of All Life on Earth, Unlock Nature's Value, Tackle Bio-Piracy and Habitat Loss". World Economic Forum. Retrieved 2018-09-06.