Martha Bulyk, 33
Discovering how genes are regulated
Harvard Medical School
Figuring out how genes coordinate the complex phenomena of life involves more than deciphering a DNA sequence. Proteins called transcription factors control genes by attaching to DNA; discovering where each of these proteins binds is critical to understanding how genes regulate working cells. Martha Bulyk has taken the gene chip technology originally developed to measure gene activity and adapted it to determine the DNA binding preferences of proteins. The technology replaces painstaking assays with efficient screens, which could aid research on diseases that are affected by mutations in transcription factors or in their binding sites, such as hypertension, cancer, and diabetes.