David Schatz named the Von Zedtwitz Professor of Immunobiology and of MB&B

This article is republished from Yale News. For questions, please contact Yale News at news@yale.edu or 203-432-1345.

David G. Schatz, newly named as the Waldemar Von Zedtwitz Professor of Immunobiology and of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry (MB&B), has made fundamental contributions to the understanding of the mechanisms that assemble and diversify antigen receptor genes that encode antibodies and T cell receptors.

Schatz is best known for the discovery of the Recombination Activating Genes RAG1 and RAG2, subsequent biochemical insights into RAG function and evolutionary origins, and the discovery of two distinct levels of regulation of somatic hypermutation. As a graduate student with David Baltimore, Schatz established an assay for the detection of V(D)J recombination activity and, in collaboration with Marjorie Oettinger, used this assay to isolate RAG1 and RAG2, whose gene products constitute the vital, lymphocyte-specific components of the V(D)J recombination machinery. This discovery transformed the field of V(D)J recombination and stands as a seminal event in the field of immunology. Schatz has since provided important insights into the mechanism of V(D)J recombination.

Schatz has made major discoveries in the field of somatic hypermutation, including the discovery of key hypermutation targeting elements and the existence of two distinct levels of regulation of the reaction, one of which relies on gene-specific DNA repair: error-prone at immunoglobulin genes and high-fidelity at numerous proto-oncogenes. His laboratory remains interested in understanding the mechanism and regulation of V(D)J recombination and somatic hypermutation.

Schatz received B.S. and M.S. degrees in molecular biophysics and biochemistry from Yale in 1980, and a M.A. degree in philosophy and politics from Oxford University, which he attended as a Rhodes Scholar. His earned his Ph.D. degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and completed postdoctoral training at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research. He joined the Yale faculty as an assistant professor of immunobiology in 1991. Prior to his new appointment, he was a professor of Immunobiology and of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry. Schatz also serves as chair of the Department of Immunobiology and has been an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute since 1991.

The Yale professor is a widely published author of scientific articles, reviews, and book chapters. He has co-written over 110 articles in peer-reviewed journals, including Cell, Nature, and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, among other publications. He served as co-editor of the journal Immunity, as a member of the editorial board of a number of journals, and as a member and chair of the NIH study section Cellular and Molecular Immunology-A.

Schatz has received numerous prizes and awards, including the Snow Prize (Yale College’s highest award to a graduating senior), the National Science Foundation Presidential Faculty Fellows Award, and the American Association of Immunologists-BD Biosciences Investigator Award. He has been an invited lecturer at universities and professional organizations throughout the United States and Canada, as well as in Europe and Japan.

This article was submitted by Claire M. Bessinger - Van Graan on April 29, 2016.

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David G. Schatz

Waldemar Von Zedtwitz Professor of Immunobiology and Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry