Erin K. O'Shea


Erin K. O'Shea Ph.D. is President of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). In 2013, she was named HHMI's Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer. Prior to that, she was a Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology and Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Harvard University. In 2016, her appointment as future, and first woman, President of HHMI was announced.[1] She has been a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) investigator since 2000.[2]

Erin K. O'Shea
Photo of Erin O'Shea
Erin O'Shea, Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI)
Alma materSmith College, MIT, UCSF
AwardsNAS Award in Molecular Biology (2001)
Scientific career
InstitutionsHarvard University, HHMI
Doctoral advisorPeter S. Kim
Other academic advisorsRobert Tjian, Ira Herskowitz

Early life and educationEdit

Erin O'Shea is one of five children, born in Leroy, New York.[3]

O'Shea earned her A.B. in Biochemistry from Smith College in 1988 and her Ph.D. in Chemistry from MIT in 1992 at age 26[4][3] working with Peter S. Kim studying leucine zippers. She was a post doctoral fellow at University of California, Berkeley from 1992 to 1993.[4]

Career and researchEdit

During her post doctoral fellowship, O'Shea worked with Robert Tjian and Ira Herskowitz studying chromatin regulation of transcription in yeast.[5] When she was joined by her graduate school colleague Jonathan Weissman, they began to determine the location and abundance of all of the proteins in the yeast genome. They ultimately made two libraries both with GFP-fused protein with tandem affinity purification (TAP)-tags.[6][7]

After her PhD, O'Shea was briefly a Basic Research Fellow before joining the faculty of University of California, San Francisco as an assistant professor in 1993.[8]

In 2005, she was recruited to Harvard University to be the director of the (FAS) Center for Systems Biology and a Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology and Chemistry and Chemical Biology. Her research is focused on gene regulation and the biology of a three-protein circadian clock. In 2012, she was elected to be HHMI's new Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer leading the HHMI Investigator Program succeeding Jack Dixon. She will continue to maintain her lab at Harvard.[9][10]

Awards and honorsEdit

O'Shea was a Packard Foundation Fellow in 1994,[11] and won young investigator awards from the American Society for Cell Biology in 2000,[12] and the Protein Society in 2001.[13] She was selected as an HHMI investigator in 2000.[14]

In 2001, O'Shea won the NAS Award in Molecular Biology for "contributions to our understanding of signal transduction, regulation of protein movement into and out of the nucleus, and how phosphorylation controls protein activity".[15]

O'Shea was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2004,[16] as well as the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.[17] She was elected a Member of the American Philosophical Society in 2019.

Personal lifeEdit

O'Shea is married to Douglas Jeffery. In 2007, she said that she runs and wakeboards, and a large motivation to move to Harvard was for the chance to teach undergrads.[18]

She trained her dog, Zambo, from when he was a puppy. Zambo became national champion and then world champion in 2011, at the Universal World Sieger Championship in Austria.[19]


  1. ^ "Erin O'Shea named new HHMI President". HHMI News. Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Retrieved 4 February 2016.
  2. ^ "Erin K. O'Shea, PhD |". Retrieved 2016-02-14.
  3. ^ a b "UCSF Magazine: Erin O'Shea: She Has a Love for Cool Science". Archived from the original on 2016-02-23. Retrieved 2016-02-15.
  4. ^ a b "American Chemical Society". Retrieved 2016-02-15.
  5. ^ Marino, M. (28 September 2004). "Inaugural Article: Biography of Erin K. O'Shea". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 101 (40): 14312–14314. Bibcode:2004PNAS..10114312M. doi:10.1073/pnas.0406675101. PMC 521978. PMID 15454611.
  6. ^ Weissman, Jonathan S.; O'Shea, Erin K. (1 January 2009). "2004 Irving Sigal Young Investigator Award". Protein Science. 13 (12): 3333–3335. doi:10.1110/ps.041134604. PMC 2287319. PMID 15557272.
  7. ^ Huh, WK; Falvo, JV; Gerke, LC; Carroll, AS; Howson, RW; Weissman, JS; O'Shea, EK (Oct 16, 2003). "Global analysis of protein localization in budding yeast". Nature. 425 (6959): 686–91. Bibcode:2003Natur.425..686H. doi:10.1038/nature02026. PMID 14562095. S2CID 669199.
  8. ^ Office, Harvard News. "Harvard Gazette: Pathbreaking researcher in proteomics". Retrieved 2016-02-15.
  9. ^ "Erin O'Shea Named Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer at HHMI". HHMI News. 30 November 2012. Retrieved 14 February 2013.
  10. ^ Reuell, Peter (3 December 2012). "HHMI taps Erin O'Shea". Harvard Gazette. Retrieved 14 February 2013.
  11. ^ "O'Shea, Erin K. - The David and Lucile Packard Foundation". The David and Lucile Packard Foundation. Retrieved 2016-02-15.
  12. ^ "Early Career Life Scientist Award - ASCB". ASCB. Retrieved 2016-02-14.
  13. ^ "Protein Society Past Awards Recipients". The Protein Society. Archived from the original on 2013-04-06. Retrieved 2016-02-14.
  14. ^ "Institute News: HHMI Announces Selection of 48 New Investigators | Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI)". Retrieved 2016-02-15.
  15. ^ "NAS Award in Molecular Biology". Retrieved 2016-02-14.
  16. ^ "Erin O'Shea". Retrieved 2016-02-14.
  17. ^ "Academy of Arts & Sciences Website Search". Retrieved 2016-02-14.
  18. ^ "HARVARD PORTRAIT Erin O'Shea". Harvard Magazine. February 2007. Retrieved 14 February 2013.
  19. ^ "Molecular & Cellular Biology - Harvard University". Retrieved 2016-02-14.

External linksEdit

  • Harvard Academic Bio
  • Howard Hughes Medical Institute bio
  • O'Shea Lab website