Robert E. Braun, Ph.D.

Senior Scientific Advisor to the President/CEO and Janeway Distinguished Chair and Professor of Mammalian Genetics

Conducts research to better understand the mechanisms that regulate germline stem cell fate.

Geneticists measure time in generations and celebrate immortality with reproductive success. My lab is driven by a passion to understand the cell biological basis of gamete (sperm and egg) development. We study how germline stem cells balance self-renewal with differentiation. Stem cell self-renewal at the expense of differentiation can cause germ cell tumors while differentiation at the expense of self-renewal can cause sterility. Our long-term goal is to understand the mechanisms that regulate germline stem cell fate. Other research interests include understanding the molecular function of the hormone testosterone in spermatogenesis. Our work has revealed that specialized tight junctions between Sertoli cells, which are integral to the blood/testis barrier, are regulated by testosterone. We are studying how germ cells pass through these tight junctions without compromising barrier function. We are also investigating molecular mechanisms of translational regulation—a major form of gene regulation in both male and female germ cells—during spermatogenesis. We use both forward and reverse genetics to identify the genes involved. Phenotypic analysis includes microscopy, biochemistry and cell physiology.

Education and experience

Education

1986-1990
Postdoctoral fellow
Department of Biochemistry, University of Washington, Seattle, WA

1985
Ph.D., microbiology and molecular biology
Tufts Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Boston, MA

1977
B.A., biology, chemistry and mathematics
University of Colorado, Boulder, CO

Experience

2012-
Professor & Vice President of Research
The Jackson Laboratory, Bar Harbor, ME

2011-
Professor
Tufts Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Boston, MA

2008-
Adjunct Professor
University of Maine, Orono, ME

2007-
Affiliate Professor
Genome Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, WA

2007-2012
Professor, Chair of Research & Associate Director
The Jackson Laboratory, Bar Harbor, ME

2006-2007
Professor
Department of Genome Sciences (formerly Department of Genetics), University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA

2001-2002
Visiting Scientist
The Jackson Laboratory, Bar Harbor, ME

1996-2006
Associate Professor
Department of Genetics, University of Washington, Seattle, WA

1990-1995
Assistant Professor
Department of Genetics, University of Washington, Seattle, WA

1990
Visiting Scientist
Medical Research Council's National Institute for Medical Research, London, England

Grants, honors, and accomplishments

2011
Chair, Mammalian Gametogenesis and Early Embryogenesis, Gordon Conference

1992-1995
March of Dimes Basil O'Connor Scholar

1990
Burroughs Wellcome Fellowship

1985
Tufts University Charlton Award