Carlson is lauded for his genetics research

Molecular geneticist John Carlson is the recipient of the 2011 Genetics Society of America Medal for outstanding contributions to the field of genetics in the last 15 years.

Carlson, the Eugene Higgins Professor of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, was cited for his pioneering work in the genetics of olfaction and taste. Working initially with the fruit fly Drosophila, he has identified and studied both olfactory and gustatory receptor genes, resulting in analysis of how these genes work and how the fly encodes chemosensory information. He has extended his research in Drosophila olfaction to Anopheles gambiae, the mosquito that transmits malaria, with the goal of helping people in Africa to avoid this disease.

“John’s lab has uncovered many parts of the system that animals use to smell,” says Ronald Breaker, chair and the Henry Ford II Professor in the Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, professor of molecular biophysics and biochemistry, and investigator for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. “Not only is he teaching all of us how one of our five senses works, but his discoveries in mosquitoes and fruit flies gives researchers new ways to combat these pests.”

The medal has been awarded annually since 1981. Its previous recipients include six winners of the Nobel Prize.

“This award reflects the enormous talent and effort of a superb group of students, postdoctoral fellows, and research assistants who have worked in our laboratory over the years,” says Carlson of his honor.

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