Jef Boeke

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Jef Boeke
BornFebruary 15, 1954
Albany, NY
Alma materRockefeller University
Bowdoin College
Known forRetrotransposon
Scientific career
FieldsMolecular Biology Genetics
Doctoral advisorNorton Zinder
Other academic advisorsGerald Fink

Jef D. Boeke is an American geneticist who is currently the founding director of The Institute for Systems Genetics at NYU Langone Medical Center.[1] From 1986 to 2014 he was on the faculty of The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, where he was the founding director of the High Throughput (HiT) Center.[1][2] He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences as well as the National Academy of Sciences.[3][4]

Boeke received a Bachelor's degree summa cum laude in Biochemistry in 1976 from Bowdoin College. He is a member of the Phi Beta Kappa chapter at Bowdoin. He then received a PhD in Molecular Biology from Rockefeller University in 1982, where he worked with Peter Model and Norton Zinder on the genetics of the filamentous phage. He did his postdoctoral work at The Whitehead Institute of MIT as a Helen Hay Whitney Postdoctoral Fellow with Gerald Fink.[5][6]

Boeke is primarily known for his pioneering fundamental genetic and biochemical work on understanding the mechanisms of DNA transposition. He along with Gerald Fink discovered the mechanism by which yeast Ty1 transposable elements move via an RNA intermediate.[7] He coined the term "retrotransposon" to describe transposable elements that move via this process.[8] These retrotransposons are distantly related to retroviruses such as HIV.

Boeke is currently leading an international team of collaborators in an effort to construct a synthetic version of the entire genome of Baker's Yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae. It was reported in March 2014, that Boeke along with this team had synthesized the third smallest chromosome, chromosome III. The synthetic chromosome was designed to be shorter and more stable than the original. The effort to complete all 16 chromosomes of S. cerevisae is currently underway and is reportedly half complete.[9][10][11][12]

He is one of the co-founders of Genome Project-Write aiming at synthesis of human genome, and leader of the “Dark Matter Project” to begin parsing the function of non-coding DNA.


  1. ^ a b "About our director". NYU Langone Medical Center. Archived from the original on 2015-02-16. Retrieved 2015-03-02.
  2. ^ "High Throughput Biology". Johns Hopkins Medical Institute. Retrieved 2015-03-02.
  3. ^ "Members of the American Academy of Sciences" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 2015-03-02.
  4. ^ "Members of the National Academy of Sciences". National Academy of Sciences. Retrieved 2015-03-02.
  5. ^ "Alumni". Bowdoin College. Retrieved 2015-03-02.
  6. ^ "Authors - Jef Boeke". Biomed Central. Retrieved 2015-03-02.
  7. ^ Boeke, JD; Garfinkel, DJ (1985). "Ty elements transpose through an RNA intermediate". Cell. 40 (3): 491–500. doi:10.1016/0092-8674(85)90197-7. PMID 2982495.
  8. ^ Rose, Sam (2014-06-12). "Jef Boeke on the lure of retrotransposons". Biomed Central.
  9. ^ Shukman, David (27 March 2014). "Scientists hail synthetic chromosome advance". BBC News. Retrieved 2014-03-28.
  10. ^ Annaluru, Narayana; et al. (March 27, 2014). "Total Synthesis of a Functional Designer Eukaryotic Chromosome". Science. 344 (6179): 55–58. Bibcode:2014Sci...344...55A. doi:10.1126/science.1249252. PMC 4033833. PMID 24674868.
  11. ^ "Sc 2.0 project website". Retrieved 2015-03-02.
  12. ^ Callaway, Ewen (2014-03-27). "First synthetic yeast chromosome revealed". Nature. doi:10.1038/nature.2014.14941.