Richard H. Ebright

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Richard H. Ebright
Richard High Ebright
Alma materHarvard University
Scientific career
FieldsBiology, Molecular Biology
ThesisStructure-function studies with the catabolite gene activator protein (CAP) of Escherichia coli (1986)

Richard High Ebright is an American molecular biologist. He is the Board of Governors Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Rutgers University and Laboratory Director at the Waksman Institute of Microbiology.[1][2]

Early life and education[edit]

Ebright received an A.B. summa cum laude in biology from Harvard University in 1981 and a PhD in microbiology and molecular genetics from Harvard University in 1987.[1][2] He was a junior fellow of the Harvard Society of Fellows from 1984 to 1987.[1]


Ebright was appointed as a faculty member in the Department of Chemistry at Rutgers University and as a Laboratory Director at the Waksman Institute of Microbiology in 1987.[1] He was co-appointed as an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute from 1997 to 2013.[1]

Ebright's research has included the experimental demonstration that amino-acid-base contacts mediate DNA sequence recognition in protein-DNA interaction,[3] the determination of the three-dimensional structural organization of the transcription initiation complex;[4][5][6] the demonstration that transcription start-site selection and initial transcription involve "DNA scrunching",[7][8][9] the demonstration that transcription activation can proceed by a "recruitment" mechanism,[10][11][12] the demonstration that bacterial transcription-translation coupling involves direct physical bridging of RNA polymerase and a ribosome by NusA and NusG,[13] the demonstration that bacterial Rho-dependent transcription termination involves the molecular-motor activity of the termination factor Rho,[14][15] and the identification of novel antibacterial drug targets in bacterial RNA polymerase.[16][17]

In 1994, Ebright was awarded the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Schering-Plough Award for his research on transcription activation.[18] In 1995, he received the Academic Press Walter J. Johnson Prize.[19] In 2013, he received a National Institutes of Health MERIT Award.[20] He was elected as a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology in 1996,[21] the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2004,[22] the Infectious Diseases Society of America in 2011,[23] and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2016.[24] He is the subject of a piece named "The Making of a Scientist" in a high school textbook published by NCERT (and recommended by the CBSE) in India.[25]

He has opposed the proliferation of laboratories working on biological weapons agents and has supported the strengthening of biosafety and biosecurity measures to reduce risks of release of biological weapons.[26]

COVID-19 origins[edit]

Ebright has stated that the genome and properties of SARS-CoV-2 provide no basis to conclude the virus was engineered as a bioweapon,[27][28] but he also has stated that the possibility that the virus entered humans through a laboratory accident cannot be dismissed and has called for a thorough investigation of the origin of the pandemic and for measures to reduce the risk of future pandemics.[29][30][31]

Ebright has accused NIAID director Anthony Fauci, NIH director Francis Collins and deputy director Lawrence Tabak of "lying to the public", about their past and continuing denials of NIH funding having been utilized for gain-of-function experiments at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.[32][33]

With colleague Bryce Nickels, Ebright has continually attacked COVID-19 researchers online, and compared them to nazis and Pol Pot.[34] In 2024 Ebright was the subject of a formal complaint to Rutgers by 12 researchers who said that Ebright was engaging in defamation and intimidation against them for their research supporting a zoonotic origin of COVID-19. In response, Ebright called a number of the researchers "fraudsters" and "perjurers".[35]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Dr. Richard H. Ebright". Waksman Institute, Rutgers University. Retrieved October 6, 2011.
  2. ^ a b "Ebright, Richard H." Department of Chemistry, Rutgers University. Retrieved August 21, 2020.
  3. ^ Ebright, R. H.; Cossart, P.; Gicquel-Sanzey, B.; Beckwith, J. (1984). "Mutations that alter the DNA sequence specificity of the catabolite gene activator protein of E. coli". Nature. 311 (5983): 232–235. Bibcode:1984Natur.311..232E. doi:10.1038/311232a0. PMID 6090927. S2CID 4261408.
  4. ^ Mekler, V.; Kortkhonjia, E.; Mukhopadhyay, J.; Knight, J.; Revyakin, A.; Kapanidis, A.; Niu, W.; Ebright, Y.; Levy, R.; Ebright, R. H. (2002). "Structural organization of bacterial RNA polymerase holoenzyme and the RNA polymerase-promoter open complex". Cell. 108 (5): 599–614. doi:10.1016/S0092-8674(02)00667-0. PMID 11893332. S2CID 4938696.
  5. ^ Zhang, Y.; Feng, Y.; Chatterjee, S.; Tuske, S.; Ho, M. X.; Arnold, E.; Ebright, R. H. (2012). "Structural Basis of Transcription Initiation". Science. 338 (6110): 1076–80. Bibcode:2012Sci...338.1076Z. doi:10.1126/science.1227786. PMC 3593053. PMID 23086998.
  6. ^ Chakraborty, A.; Wang, D.; Ebright, Y.; Korlann, Y.; Kortkhonjia, E.; Kim, T.; Chowdhury, S.; Wigneshweraraj, S.; Irschik, H.; Jansen, R.; Nixon, B.T.; Knight, J.; Weiss, S.; Ebright, R. H. (2012). "Opening and closing of the bacterial RNA polymerase clamp". Science. 337 (6094): 591–595. Bibcode:2012Sci...337..591C. doi:10.1126/science.1218716. PMC 3626110. PMID 22859489.
  7. ^ Kapanidis, A. N.; Margeat, E.; Ho, S. O.; Kortkhonjia, E.; Weiss, S.; Ebright, R. H. (2006). "Initial transcription by RNA polymerase proceeds through a DNA-scrunching mechanism". Science. 314 (5802): 1144–1147. Bibcode:2006Sci...314.1144K. doi:10.1126/science.1131399. PMC 2754788. PMID 17110578.
  8. ^ Revyakin, A.; Liu, C.; Ebright, R. H.; Strick, T. (2006). "Abortive initiation and productive initiation by RNA polymerase involve DNA scrunching". Science. 314 (5802): 1139–1143. Bibcode:2006Sci...314.1139R. doi:10.1126/science.1131398. PMC 2754787. PMID 17110577.
  9. ^ Winkelman, J.; Vvedenskaya, I.; Zhang, Y.; Bird, J.; Taylor, D.; Gourse, R.; Ebright, R.; Nickels, B. (2016). "Multiplexed protein-DNA cross-linking: Scrunching in transcription start site selection". Science. 351 (6277): 1090–1093. Bibcode:2016Sci...351.1090W. doi:10.1126/science.aad6881. PMC 4797950. PMID 26941320.
  10. ^ Heyduk, T.; Lee, J.; Ebright, Y.; Blatter, E.; Zhou, Y.; Ebright, R. H. (1993). "CAP interacts with RNA polymerase in solution in the absence of promoter DNA". Nature. 364 (6437): 548–549. Bibcode:1993Natur.364..548H. doi:10.1038/364548a0. PMID 8393148. S2CID 4248533.
  11. ^ Benoff, B.; Yang, H.; Lawson, C. L.; Parkinson, G.; Liu, J.; Blatter, E.; Ebright, Y. W.; Berman, H. M.; Arnold, E.; Ebright, R. H. (2002). "Structural basis of transcription activation: the CAP-alphaCTD-DNA complex". Science. 297 (5586): 1562–1566. Bibcode:2002Sci...297.1562B. doi:10.1126/science.1076376. PMID 12202833. S2CID 17422837.
  12. ^ Feng, Y.; Zhang, Y.; Ebright, R. H. (2016). "Structural basis of transcription activation". Science. 352 (6291): 1330–1333. Bibcode:2016Sci...352.1330F. doi:10.1126/science.aaf4417. PMC 4905602. PMID 27284196.
  13. ^ Wang, C.; Molodtsov, V.; Firlar, E.; Kaelber, J.; Blaha, G.; Su, M. & Ebright, R. H. (2020). "Structural basis of transcription-translation coupling". Science. 369 (6509): 1359–1365. Bibcode:2020Sci...369.1359W. doi:10.1126/science.abb5317. PMC 7566311. PMID 32820061.
  14. ^ Molodtsov, V.; Wang, C.; Firlar, E.; Kaelber, J. & Ebright, R. H. (2023). "Structural basis of Rho-dependent transcription termination". Nature. 614 (7947): 367–374. Bibcode:2023Natur.614..367M. doi:10.1038/s41586-022-05658-1. PMC 9911385. PMID 36697824.
  15. ^ Rashid, F. & Berger, J. (2023). "Protein structure terminates doubt about how transcription stops". Nature. 614 (7947): 237–238. Bibcode:2023Natur.614..237R. doi:10.1038/d41586-023-00121-1. PMID 36697726.
  16. ^ Mukhopadhyay, J.; Das, K.; Ismail, S.; Koppstein, D.; Jang, M.; Hudson, B.; Sarafianos, S.; Tuske, S.; Patel, J.; Jansen, R.; Irschik, H.; Arnold, E. & Ebright, R. H. (2008). "The RNA polymerase "switch region" is a target for inhibitors". Cell. 135 (2): 295–307. doi:10.1016/j.cell.2008.09.033. PMC 2580802. PMID 18957204.
  17. ^ Maffioli, S.; Zhang, Y.; Degen, D.; Carzaniga, T.; Del Gatto, G.; Serina, S.; Monciardini, P.; Mazzetti, C.; Guglierame, P.; Candiani, G.; Chiriac, A. I.; Facchetti, G.; Kaltofen, P.; Sahl, H.-G.; Dehò, G.; Donadio, S. & Ebright, R. H. (2017). "Antibacterial nucleoside-analog inhibitor of bacterial RNA polymerase". Cell. 169 (7): 1240–1248. doi:10.1016/j.cell.2017.05.042. PMC 5542026. PMID 28622509.
  18. ^ "ASBMB/Schering-Plough Research Institute Award". Retrieved October 8, 2011.
  19. ^ "The Walter J. Johnson Prize, 1995". Journal of Molecular Biology. 251 (3): 329. 1995. PMID 7650734.
  20. ^ "Gifts & Grants". Rutgers University Faculty and Staff Bulletin. June 12, 2013. Retrieved June 12, 2013.
  21. ^ "American Academy of Microbiology Fellowship Directory". Archived from the original on August 7, 2011. Retrieved October 8, 2011.
  22. ^ "AAAS Council Honors 308 Members for Their Contributions to Science" (Press release). AAAS. November 1, 2004. Retrieved October 8, 2011.
  23. ^ "Congratulations, New IDSA Fellows!". IDSA News. July–August 2011. Retrieved October 8, 2011.
  24. ^ "American Academy of Arts and Sciences Elects 213 National and International Scholars, Artists, Philanthropists, and Business and Civic Leaders" (Press release). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. April 20, 2016. Retrieved April 20, 2016.
  25. ^ Footprints Without Feet (December 2017 ed.). India: NCERT. 2007. pp. 32–38. ISBN 978-81-7450-709-9.
  26. ^ See, for example, the following:
    Sources describing his opposition to proliferation of laboratories working on biological weapons agents: Sources describing his support for strengthening of biosafety and biosecurity measures:
  27. ^ Taylor, A. (January 29, 2020). "Experts debunk fringe theory linking China's coronavirus to weapons research". The Washington Post.
  28. ^ Firozi, P. (February 17, 2020). "Tom Cotton keeps repeating a coronavirus fringe theory that scientists have disputed". The Washington Post.
  29. ^ Cohen, J. (January 31, 2020). "Mining coronavirus genomes for clues to the outbreak's origins". Science.
  30. ^ Warrick, J.; Nakashima, E.; Harris, S.; Fifield, A. (May 1, 2020). "Chinese lab conducted extensive research on deadly bat viruses, but there is no evidence of accidental release". The Washington Post.
  31. ^ Zimmer, C.; Gorman, J. (June 7, 2021). "Fight Over Covid's Origins Renews Debate on Risks of Lab Work". The New York Times.
  32. ^ Schemmel, Alec (October 21, 2021). "NIH letter appears to conflict with Fauci, Collins claims about Wuhan lab". Retrieved November 9, 2021.
  33. ^ "The repeated claim that Fauci lied to Congress about 'gain-of-function' research". Washington Post. Retrieved November 9, 2021.
  34. ^ Hiltzik, Michael (March 20, 2024). "Column: Two Rutgers professors are accused of poisoning the debate over COVID's origins. Here's why". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 20, 2024.
  35. ^ Kaiser, Jocelyn (March 15, 2024). 'Lab-leak' proponents at Rutgers accused of defaming and intimidating COVID-19 origin researchers (Report). Science. doi:10.1126/science.znoov39.

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