Joanne Chory

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Joanne Chory
Joanne Chory 2022 01.jpg
Chory at Salk in 2022
Alma materOberlin College (BS, Biology)
University of Illinois,Urbana–Champaign (PhD, Microbiology)
Known forPlant hormone biology, retrograde signaling, photobiology
AwardsGenetics Society of America Medal (2012)
Kumho Award in Plant Molecular Biology (2004)
Scientific American 50: Research Leader in Agriculture (2003)
L'Oreal-UNESCO Award for Women in Science (2000)
American Society of Plant Biologists, Charles Albert Schull Award (1995)
Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences (2018)
Gruber Prize in Genetics (2018)
Princess of Asturias Award (2019)
Scientific career
FieldsPlant Biology
InstitutionsSalk Institute for Biological Studies
Doctoral advisorSamuel Kaplan

Joanne Chory is an American plant biologist and geneticist. Chory is a professor and director of the Plant Molecular and Cellular Biology Laboratory, at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies and an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.[1]

She leads the Salk Institute’s Harnessing Plants Initiative (HPI), an innovative carbon dioxide removal approach to fight climate change by optimizing a plant’s natural ability to capture and store carbon dioxide and adapt to different climate conditions. Chory and the HPI team aims to help plants grow bigger and stronger root systems that can absorb larger amounts of carbon by burying it in the ground in the form of suberin, a naturally occurring substance.[2][3]

Considered the most influential plant biologist of the modern era and one of the greatest scientific innovators of our time, Chory's 30 years of work has pioneered the use of molecular genetics to study how plants change their shape and size to optimize photosynthesis and growth for different environments.[4][2][5]

Chory was elected as a foreign member of the Royal Society in 2011 and is the recipient of the 2018 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences and the 2019 Prince of Asturias Award for Technical and Scientific Research.[6] She holds the Howard H. and Maryam R. Newman Chair in Plant Biology. She is also an adjunct professor in the Section of Cell and Developmental Biology, UC San Diego.[7] Chory and her HPI team received a $35 million award in support of the initiative from the TED Audacious Project in 2019 and another $30 million from the Bezos Earth Fund in 2020.[8][9]


Joanne Chory was born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1955. Her Lebanese parents raised her along with her four brothers and one sister. She began her upper level education at Oberlin College in Ohio where she graduated with a degree in biology with honors. She then continued her post graduate education at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. It is here were she received her Ph.D.[10]

She was a postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard Medical School in the lab of Frederick M. Ausubel.[11] In 1988 she joined the Salk Institute as an Assistant Professor. Chory eventually married her husband, Stephen Worland, with whom she has two adopted children.

In 2004, Chory was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. She has struggled with the disease for well over a decade, but with the help of medications and a brain implant to help regulate her movement, she has continued her genetic research. Along with her passion for genetics, Chory strives to inspire young women to become scientists and is constantly working to improve the field for women.[10]

Chory was not always interested in genetics. Her early career interests were centered in microbiology. Through her research in that field she developed a deeper interest in genetics, specifically research that was being done on Arabidopsis plants. Through her lengthy career in genetics she has been awarded numerous prestigious accolades for her many contributions to the field.[12]

Career and research[edit]

Joanne Chory focuses her research on finding a way to optimize plant growth to sustain a growing human population. She uses Arabidopsis thaliana as a model organism, but her purpose is to optimize all plant growth and not just that of A. thaliana itself. She mutates the genes of the model organism and uses the results to understand the effects that these mutations have. She approaches this information from various directions including using genetics, genomics, cell biology, x-ray crystallography, biochemistry, and ecology. She has made strides in understanding light sensitivity and hormones in these plants. She uses this knowledge to optimize growth in other plants in hopes that we can better sustain a fast and ever-growing population.[1]

Chory shows particular appreciation for manipulation of phenotypes of an organism.[13] Light signals are required for the induction and regulation of many developmental processes in plants. She has participated in research dissecting this complex process by isolating mutations that alter light-regulated seedling development in Arabidopsis.[14][15] Her work has identified mutants that are deficient in the phytochrome photoreceptors and in nuclear-localized repressors and has also revealed that steroid hormones control light-regulated seedling development. Dr. Chory's lab has been involved in the manipulation of the biosynthetic pathway for these steroids that altered the growth and development of plants and identification of the putative steroid receptor, a transmembrane receptor kinase.[16] Her group has also contributed towards the understanding of chloroplast to nuclear retrograde signaling[17][18] and plant shade avoidance responses.[19][20]

Awards and honors[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Professor Joanne Chory ForMemRS". The Royal Society. Retrieved 17 October 2013.
  2. ^ a b "Joanne Chory: Professor and Director". Salk.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  3. ^ Hahn, Jane (2021-04-28). "Joanne Chory is using plants to save the planet". Washington Post. Retrieved 2021-08-28.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  4. ^ "Into the Light: A Profile of Joanne Chory". The Scientist. 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  5. ^ "Ted2019. Joanne Chory: How supercharged plants could slow climate change". Ted.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  6. ^ IT, Developed with webControl CMS by Intermark. "Joanne Chory and Sandra Myrna Díaz – Laureates – Princess of Asturias Awards". The Princess of Asturias Foundation. Retrieved 2020-11-12.
  7. ^ "Joanne Chory". Retrieved 2015-09-26.
  8. ^ "Joanne Chory wins the 2020 Pearl Meister Greengard Prize".{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  9. ^ "Bezos Earth Fund donates $30 million to Salk Institute for innovative climate change research". Eurekalert. 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  10. ^ a b "Joanne Chory". Retrieved 2019-02-28.
  11. ^ "Joanne Chory". Salk Institute for Biological Studies. Retrieved 17 October 2013.
  12. ^ "Newswise: News for Journalists". Retrieved 2019-02-28.
  13. ^ Bartel, B. (2012-06-01). "The 2012 Genetics Society of America Medal: Joanne Chory". Genetics. 191 (2): 297–298. doi:10.1534/genetics.112.138404. ISSN 0016-6731. PMC 3374298. PMID 22701045.
  14. ^ Chory, Joanne; Peto, Charles; Feinbaum, Rhonda; Pratt, Lee; Ausubel, Frederick (1989-09-08). "Arabidopsis thaliana mutant that develops as a light-grown plant in the absence of light". Cell. 58 (5): 991–999. doi:10.1016/0092-8674(89)90950-1. PMID 2776216. S2CID 39355835.
  15. ^ Pepper, Alan; Delaney, Terrence; Washburnt, Tracy; Poole, Daniel; Chory, Joanne (1994-07-15). "DET1, a negative regulator of light-mediated development and gene expression in arabidopsis, encodes a novel nuclear-localized protein". Cell. 78 (1): 109–116. doi:10.1016/0092-8674(94)90577-0. PMID 8033202. S2CID 42247168.
  16. ^ Li, Jianming; Chory, Joanne (1997-09-05). "A Putative Leucine-Rich Repeat Receptor Kinase Involved in Brassinosteroid Signal Transduction". Cell. 90 (5): 929–938. doi:10.1016/S0092-8674(00)80357-8. PMID 9298904. S2CID 17566573.
  17. ^ Susek, Ronald E.; Ausubel, Frederick M.; Chory, Joanne (1993-09-10). "Signal transduction mutants of arabidopsis uncouple nuclear CAB and RBCS gene expression from chloroplast development". Cell. 74 (5): 787–799. CiteSeerX doi:10.1016/0092-8674(93)90459-4. PMID 7690685. S2CID 17781233.
  18. ^ Larkin, Robert M.; Alonso, Jose M.; Ecker, Joseph R.; Chory, Joanne (2003-02-07). "GUN4, a Regulator of Chlorophyll Synthesis and Intracellular Signaling". Science. 299 (5608): 902–906. Bibcode:2003Sci...299..902L. doi:10.1126/science.1079978. ISSN 0036-8075. PMID 12574634. S2CID 15219589.
  19. ^ Tao, Yi; Ferrer, Jean-Luc; Ljung, Karin; Pojer, Florence; Hong, Fangxin; Long, Jeff A.; Li, Lin; Moreno, Javier E.; Bowman, Marianne E. (2008-04-04). "Rapid Synthesis of Auxin via a New Tryptophan-Dependent Pathway Is Required for Shade Avoidance in Plants". Cell. 133 (1): 164–176. doi:10.1016/j.cell.2008.01.049. PMC 2442466. PMID 18394996.
  20. ^ Pedmale, Ullas V.; Huang, Shao-shan Carol; Zander, Mark; Cole, Benjamin J.; Hetzel, Jonathan; Ljung, Karin; Reis, Pedro A. B.; Sridevi, Priya; Nito, Kazumasa (2016-01-14). "Cryptochromes Interact Directly with PIFs to Control Plant Growth in Limiting Blue Light". Cell. 164 (1–2): 233–245. doi:10.1016/j.cell.2015.12.018. PMC 4721562. PMID 26724867.
  21. ^ Princess of Asturias Award for Technical and Scientific Research 2019
  22. ^ "2018 Gruber Genetics Prize | Gruber Foundation". Retrieved 13 December 2021.
  23. ^ "Breakthrough Prize – Life Sciences Breakthrough Prize – Laureates". Retrieved 13 December 2021.
  24. ^ "Joanne Chory elected to the American Philosophical Society – Salk Institute – News Release". Retrieved 2015-09-26.
  25. ^ "Salk Professor Joanne Chory Awarded 2012 Genetics Society of America Medal". Newswise. January 20, 2012.
  26. ^ Friedmann, Lynne (May 26, 2011). "Research Report: Salk scientist Joanne Chory lauded". La Jolla Light. Archived from the original on October 22, 2013. Retrieved October 17, 2013.
  27. ^ "Joanne Chory Gets Kumho Award". Retrieved 2015-09-26.
  28. ^ "Joanne Chory, PhD |". Retrieved 2015-09-26.

External links[edit]