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James A. Birchler elected as a Fellow in the National Academy of Inventors

Dec. 18, 2014

Headshot of James Birchler

James Birchler, Curators’ Professor of Biological Sciences

James Birchler, Curators’ Professor of Biological Sciences, has been elected a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors.

Birchler pioneered the development of several novel tools and techniques for the genetic study of chromosomes. He and his laboratory developed an efficient technique to “paint,” or visualize, chromosomes, parts of chromosomes, and individual genes in corn using florescent tags. This technique has facilitated many studies of chromosome structure and behavior and has been adopted for other plant species.

His laboratory is also recognized for engineering the first synthetic chromosomes in plants. These extra chromosomes can be used as vehicles for introducing large blocks of new genes into plant cells and as a tool to edit the genomes on a large scale, which has potential for crop improvement.

“I am honored that our laboratory was recognized by the NAI,” said Birchler. “Our hope has always been that the tools developed would indeed benefit worldwide food security, a pressing issue in the coming years.”

Birchler holds a doctorate from Indiana University. He recently was named an Einstein Professor with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, is an elected fellow in the American Association for the Advancement of Science and is a member of the National Academy of Sciences. Birchler also serves as associate editor of GENETICS and G3: Genes, Genomics, Genetics.

Election to NAI Fellow status is a high professional distinction accorded to academic inventors who have demonstrated a highly prolific spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development, and the welfare of society.

Birchler will be inducted by the Deputy U.S. Commissioner for Patents Andrew Faile of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in a ceremony at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena on March 20, 2015.

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Written by: Melody Kroll

Related research strengths:
Genetics & Genomics, Plant Biology
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