Jason Crawford named the Singer Associate Professor

Crawford develops and applies genome sequence-guided methods for the discovery of genetically encoded molecules from mutualistic and pathogenic microorganisms.
Photo of Professor Jason Crawford.
Jason Crawford

Jason Michael Crawford, newly named as the Maxine F. Singer ’57 Ph.D. Associate Professor of Chemistry and Microbial Pathogenesis, focuses his research on developing and systematically applying genome sequence-guided methods for the discovery of genetically encoded small molecules from mutualistic and pathogenic microorganisms.

High-throughput genome sequencing of bacteria and fungi has revealed many highly unusual “orphan” biosynthetic gene clusters suspected of synthesizing novel, structurally diverse, and biologically active small molecules. These types of naturally produced molecules often regulate complex interactions with their animal hosts, hold a rich history of being utilized as human drugs, and serve as molecular probes for identifying new drug targets for a wide variety of diseases. Using a blend of small molecule chemistry, protein biochemistry, and microbiology, Crawford exploits the natural interactions between bacteria and animals to discover new molecules with signaling, antimicrobial, immunomodulatory, and anticancer activities; connects them to their underlying biosynthetic gene clusters; characterizes and engineers the biosynthetic enzymes involved in their construction; and investigates their roles in biology and medicine.

Crawford earned his Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University and conducted postdoctoral research at Harvard Medical School. He joined the Departments of Chemistry and of Microbial Pathogenesis at Yale in 2012. Prior to his new appointment, he served as associate professor of chemistry and of microbial pathogenesis. He is a member of the Yale Chemical Biology Institute, which is composed of laboratories focused on discovering the science of molecules in the context of living systems and the application of these discoveries to problems in biology and medicine.

The Yale professor’s honors include the Searle Scholars Award, the National Institutes of Health New Innovator Award, the Damon Runyon-Rachleff Innovation Award, the Dale F. Frey Breakthrough Scientist Award, the Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award, and the Burroughs Wellcome Investigators in the Pathogenesis of Infectious Disease Award.

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