Sean B. Carroll

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For the physicist, see Sean M. Carroll.
Sean B. Carroll
Sean B Carroll.jpg
Born (1960-09-17) 17 September 1960 (age 56)
Toledo, Ohio
Citizenship American
Fields Evolutionary developmental biology
Institutions University of Wisconsin–Madison, University of Colorado at Boulder
Alma mater Washington University in St. Louis (B.S.), Tufts University (Ph.D.)
Doctoral advisor B. David Stollar
Other academic advisors Matthew P. Scott
Notable awards Presidential Young Investigator Award
Benjamin Franklin Medal in Life Science

Sean B. Carroll (born September 17, 1960) is a professor of molecular biology, genetics, and medical genetics at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He studies the evolution of cis-regulatory elements in the regulation of gene expression in the context of biological development, using Drosophila as a model system. He is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. Since 2010, he has been vice-president for science education of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.


Carroll was educated at Washington University in St. Louis. He then received his Ph.D. in immunology from Tufts University.[1]

Carroll is at the forefront of a field known as evolutionary developmental biology ("evo-devo"). He is a professor of genetics, medical genetics, and molecular biology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and an investigator for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Additionally, he writes a monthly column for the New York Times called "Remarkable Creatures". He is a strong advocate of the primacy of cis-regulatory evolution in the context of morphological evolution. In 2010, he was named vice-president for science education of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.[2] In 2012, he was awarded the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Life Science from the Franklin Institute.[3] In 2016, he was awarded the Thomas Lewis Prize at the Rockefeller University.[4]


The science writer Peter Forbes, writing in The Guardian, calls Endless Forms Most Beautiful an "essential book" and its author "both a distinguished scientist ... and one of our great science writers." In Forbes's view, in The Serengeti Rules Carroll "manages to unite natural history with the hard science of genomics."[5]

Louise S. Mead, reviewing The Making of the Fittest for the National Center for Science Education, notes that Carroll provides "some of the overwhelming evidence for evolution provided in DNA", using different lines of enquiry such as DNA sequences that code for genes no longer in use, and evidence of evolutionary change. Mead notes that evolutionary theory has predictive power, as with icefish whose ancestors had haemoglobin whereas (not needing it in icy water) they have lost it.[6]

Douglas H. Erwin, reviewing Endless Forms Most Beautiful for Artificial Life, notes that life forms from Drosophila to man have far fewer genes than many biologists expected – in man's case, only some 20,000. "How could humans, in all our diversity of cell types and complexity of neurons, require essentially the same number of genes as a fly, or worse, a worm (the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans)?" asks Erwin. He answers his own question about the "astonishing morphological diversity" of animals coming from "such a limited number of genes", praising Carroll's "insightful and enthusiastic" style, writing in a "witty and engaging" way, pulling the reader into the complexities of Hox and PAX-6, as well as celebrating the Cambrian explosion of life forms and much else.[7]



  1. ^ Who's Who in America, 2008 Edition, Vol. 1 p. 728
  2. ^ "Sean B. Carroll, HHMI Vice President for Science Education". Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Retrieved 22 October 2013. 
  3. ^ "Benjamin Franklin Medal in Life Science". Franklin Institute. 2012. Retrieved 6 April 2013. 
  4. ^ "Presentation of the 2016 Lewis Thomas Prize to Sean B. Carroll". The Rockefeller University. Retrieved 15 April 2016. 
  5. ^ Forbes, Peter (23 March 2016). "The Serengeti Rules by Sean B Carroll review – a visionary book about how life works". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 April 2016. 
  6. ^ Mead, Louise S. (2008). "Review: The Making of the Fittest". Reports of the National Center for Science Education. 28 (1): 37–39. 
  7. ^ Erwin, Douglas J. (2007). "Book Review: Endless Forms Most Beautiful". Artificial Life. 13 (1): 87–89. 
  8. ^ Cohn, Martin J. (2001). "Review of From DNA to Diversity" (PDF). Evolution & Development. 3 (5): 364–365. doi:10.1046/j.1525-142x.2001.01037.x. 

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