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Melvin I. Simon

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Melvin Isaac Simon (born February 8, 1937, in New York City) is an American molecular biologist, molecular geneticist, and microbiologist.


After secondary education at Manhattan's Yeshiva University High School for Boys,[1] he graduated in 1959 with a B.S. from City College of New York and in 1963 with a Ph.D. from Brandeis University. From 1963 to 1965 he was a postdoc at Princeton University. From 1965 to 1982 he was a faculty member of the biology department of the University of California, San Diego (UCSD).[2] In 1982 he and UCSD professor John Abelson founded the Agouron Institute. In 1982 Simon and Abelson both moved to California Institute of Technology (Caltech). In the Division of Biology of Caltech, Simon was Biaggini Professor of Biological Sciences from 1982 to 2007, when he retired from Caltech as professor emeritus. At Caltech he was the chair of his department from 1995 to 2000. At the UC San Diego School of Medicine, was an adjunct professor of pharmacology from 2007 when he retired from UCSD.[3]

Simon is the author or coauthor of over 350 scientific publications.[2] Simon's group at UCSD did important research on bacterial movement and chemotaxis.[4][2] Michael Robert Silverman (born in 1943)[5][6] and Melvin Simon are credited with the discovery that bacterial flagella are based in rotary motors.[7][8][2] Silverman was Simon's doctoral student.[9]

Simon’s laboratory group at Caltech played an important role in the Human Genome Project (HGP) and built many of the initial libraries that provided the basic material for the HGP.[2] Simon's group invented in 1992 bacterial artificial chromosomes (BACs) and in 1994 phage artificial chromosomes (PACs) using the P1 phage.[10] The group's scientists were among the main developers of the maps of human chromosome 16 and human chromosome 22.[2] In 2002 Simon and colleagues determined the complete genome sequence of Pyrobaculum aerophilum, a hyperthermophilic archaeum.[11] Simon and his Caltech group gained an international reputation for their research on G-proteins and the molecular mechanisms of how these proteins are essential for transmitting signals detected on cellular surfaces into cellular interiors.[2][3] Simon and colleagues demonstrated how various genetic mutations in bacteria, nematodes, and mice cause various abnormalities and diseases.[12][13][14][15][16]

Simon has been involved with a number of non-profit organizations and commercial corporations. He was one of the founders of Agouron Pharmaceuticals, Inc.,[2] which was acquired by Warner-Lambert in 1999.[17][18] He was also one of the founders of the Diversa Corporation,[2] which was merged with the Celunol Corporation in 2007 to form the Verenium Corporation.[19]

Simon was a Guggenheim fellow for the academic year 1978–1979.[20] He was elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences in 1985[3] and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1986.[2] In 1991 he received the Selman A. Waksman Award in Microbiology.[21]

In January 1937 in the Bronx, he married Linda Fried. They have two sons and a daughter.

Selected publications[edit]



  • Simon, Nelvin, Herskowitz, Ira, eds. (1985). Genome rearrangement : proceedings of the UCLA symposium held at Steamboat Springs, Colorado, April 7-13, 1984. UCLA symposia on molecular and cellular biology ; new series, vol. 20. New York: Liss. ISBN 0845126199. LCCN 84029716; 336 pages, illustrated{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: postscript (link)
  • Simon, Melvin I., Crane, Brian R., Crane, Alexandrine, eds. (2007). Two-component signaling systems. San Diego, Calif.: Academic Press. LCCN 2008357338; 2 volumes, illustrated{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: postscript (link)
    • Part A. Two-component signaling systems. Methods in Enzymology, vol. 422. 17 July 2007. ISBN 978-0123738516.
    • Part B. Two-component signaling systems. Methods in Enzymology, vol. 423. ISBN 0123738520.


  1. ^ "Simon, Melvin I. Interview by Shirley K. Cohen. Pasadena, California, May 24 and June 5, 2005. Oral History Project". California Institute of Technology Archives.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Biography. Melvin I. Simon". American Academy of Arts and Sciences. 6 December 2023.
  3. ^ a b c "Melvin I. Simon". Member Directory, National Academy of Sciences.
  4. ^ Simon MI, Borkovich KA, Bourret RB, Hess J (1989). "Protein phosphorylation in the bacterial chemotaxis system". Biochimie. 71 (9–10): 1013–1019. doi:10.1016/0300-9084(89)90105-3. PMID 2512992.
  5. ^ Silverman, Michael Robert (1972). Characterization and genetic analysis of flagellar mutants in Escherichia coli; Ph.D. thesis, University of California, San Diego{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: postscript (link)
  6. ^ "Michael R. Silverman and Bonnie L. Bassler Win 2011 Paul Ehrlich and Ludwig Darmstaedter Prize". Goethe Universität, Frankfurt am Main. 28 January 2011.
  7. ^ Silverman M, Simon M (May 1974). "Flagellar rotation and the mechanism of bacterial motility". Nature. 249 (452): 73–4. Bibcode:1974Natur.249...73S. doi:10.1038/249073a0. PMID 4598030. S2CID 10370084.
  8. ^ Silverman M, Simon MI (1977). "Bacterial Flagella". Annual Review of Microbiology. 31: 397–419. doi:10.1146/annurev.mi.31.100177.002145. PMID 410356.
  9. ^ "Melvin I. Simon, Ph.D." Chemistry Tree.
  10. ^ McElheny, Victor K. (31 July 2012). Drawing the Map of Life: Inside the Human Genome Project. Basic Books. p. 106. ISBN 9780465032600.
  11. ^ Fitz-Gibbon ST, Ladner H, Kim UJ, Stetter KO, Simon MI, Miller JH (2002). "Genome sequence of the hyperthermophilic crenarchaeon Pyrobaculum aerophilum". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 99 (2): 984–989. Bibcode:2002PNAS...99..984F. doi:10.1073/pnas.241636498. PMC 117417. PMID 11792869.
  12. ^ "Melvin I. (Mel) Simon". Division of Biology and Biological Engineering, Caltech.
  13. ^ Brundage L, Avery L, Katz A, Kim UJ, Mendel JE, Sternberg PW, Simon MI (1996). "Mutations in a C. elegans Gqα Gene Disrupt Movement, Egg Laying, and Viability". Neuron. 16 (5): 999–1009. doi:10.1016/S0896-6273(00)80123-3. PMC 4444781. PMID 8630258.
  14. ^ Chen J, Simon MI, Matthes MT, Yasumura D, Lavail MM (November 1999). "Increased Susceptibility to Light Damage in an Arrestin Knockout Mouse Model of Oguchi Disease (Stationary Night Blindness)". Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science. 40 (12): 2978–2982. PMID 10549660.
  15. ^ Dong X, Han SK, Zylka MJ, Simon MI, Anderson DJ (2001). "A Diverse Family of GPCRS Expressed in Specific Subsets of Nociceptive Sensory Neurons". Cell. 106 (5): 619–632. doi:10.1016/S0092-8674(01)00483-4. PMID 11551509. S2CID 14119088.
  16. ^ Imamachi N, Park GH, Lee H, Anderson DJ, Simon MI, Basbaum AI, Han SK (2009). "TRPV1-expressing primary afferents generate behavioral responses to pruritogens via multiple mechanisms". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 106 (27): 11330–11335. Bibcode:2009PNAS..10611330I. doi:10.1073/pnas.0905605106. PMC 2708751. PMID 19564617.
  17. ^ Jacobs, Paul (January 27, 1999). "Biotech Firm Agouron Will be Purchased for $2.1 Billion". Los Angeles Times.
  18. ^ Morrow, David J. (January 27, 1999). "Warner-Lambert to Acquire Agouron Pharmaceuticals". New York Times.
  19. ^ "Diversa and Celunol Complete Merger to Create Verenium Corporation". Biospace. June 20, 2007.
  20. ^ "Melvin I. Simon". John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.
  21. ^ "Selman A. Waksman Award in Microbiology". National Academy of Sciences.