7 May 2012, Durham, NC, USA. Mariano Garcia-Blanco, PhD, Professor of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology and Medicine, and Director of the Center for RNA Biology at Duke University’s School of Medicine, Professor of Emerging Infectious Diseases at the Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School in Singapore and co-founder of Singapore Advanced Biologics (SABio) has been named the Charles D. Watts Professor of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology.
The distinguished professorship awarded to Prof. Garcia-Blanco is named in memory of the late Charles D. Watts, a pioneering African-American surgeon who founded the Lincoln Community Health Center. As the first African-American to be certified by a surgical specialty board in North Carolina, Watts is remembered for taking care of the poor and underserved in Durham. He spent more than 50 years advocating for civil/human rights and for the quality of medical care for all residents of Durham.
Prof. Garcia-Blanco is internationally-recognized for his scientific contributions including the discovery of the alternative splicing factor PTB (polypyrimidine tract binding protein) and the demonstration of its role in regulating splice site choice, the demonstration that splice sites are paired by three-dimensional diffusion rather than scanning, the development of methods to image alternative splicing decisions in mammals in vivo, and the recent discovery of virus host factors required for yellow fever virus and dengue virus propagation in human cells and in insect cells.
Prof. Garcia-Blanco is a member of the Scientific Advisory Board for European Alternative Splicing Network of Excellence, the Council of Scientific Advisers, the International Centre of Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, the National Advisory General Medical Sciences Council, and a Trustee of the Puerto Rico Trust for Science, Research and Technology. In 2011, he was elected to the Association of American Physicians (AAP).