Andrew Clark, professor of population genetics in the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics and co-director of Cornell's new Center for Comparative and Population Genomics, has been named the first Nancy and Peter Meinig Family Investigator in the Life Sciences. The award recognizes and supports "outstanding, innovative faculty life sciences research at Cornell."
The investigatorships, established in May 2007, are prestigious awards that take into account the background, achievements, promise and proposed research agenda of faculty applicants.
"Andy is a superb scientist," said Provost Kent Fuchs. "I am confident that he will use these Meinig resources to significantly advance research in the life sciences."
A faculty member at Cornell since 2002, Clark focuses his research on the genetic basis of adaptive variation in natural populations, with an emphasis on quantitative modeling of phenotypes as networks of interacting genes. His early work on haplotype inference has recently played a key role in identifying genes for many complex disorders in humans by a method called association mapping. He contributed to the analysis and publication of the first human genome sequences. Along with colleagues at Cornell, he has been involved in studies demonstrating the impact of natural selection on the human and other primate genomes, leading to an understanding of the underlying causes of some of the remarkably high population frequencies of traits that cause human disease. He also runs a drosophila laboratory, where his group is responsible for the discovery of most of the genes on the drosophila Y chromosome, the evolutionary pressures on the immune system of flies, and on diabetes-like syndromes inducible in flies.
"Andy is a really unusual person. He is insightful and has a way in which he's able to connect key elements of biology and evolution," said Stephen Kresovich, vice provost for the life sciences. "His work is fascinating because of what he brings together. He has been playing a key role as a catalyst for bringing people from across campus together to address important biological questions and applications. He is a great model for the first awardee."
Clark is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and serves on review panels for the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation and the Max Planck Society. He received a B.S. in biology and applied mathematics at Brown University in 1976, and a Ph.D. in population genetics at Stanford University in 1980.
"Nancy and I are so pleased that Andy Clark has been selected as the first Meinig family investigator," said Peter Meinig, chair of the Cornell Board of Trustees. "He represents the values and keen intellect that we hoped would energize the Cornell life sciences through our endowment."