Alexander van Oudenaarden

Alexander van Oudenaarden

Fellow: Awarded 2008
Field of Study: Molecular and Cellular Biology

Competition: US & Canada

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Alexander van Oudenaarden is Keck Career Development Professor in Biomedical Engineering and Associate Professor of Physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. A native of The Netherlands, Mr. van Oudenaarden studied at Delft University of Technology, receiving Master’s degrees in materials science and engineering, and in physics (both 1993) as well as a Ph.D. in physics (1998). He received the Andries Miedema Award for the best Ph.D. work in the field of condensed matter physics in the Netherlands, which is awarded every other year by Fundamental Research on Matter (FOM).

As a Dutch Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) NATO postdoctoral fellow, he spent about a year and a half (1998-99) at Stanford, researching the micropatterning of supported phospholipid bilayers in the chemistry lab of S. G. Boxer, and the force generation of polymerizing actin filaments in the lab of J. A. Theriot in the departments of biochemistry and of microbiology and immunology. Two publications that grew out of his work with Professor Theriot are “Cooperative symmetry breaking by actin filament polymerization in a model for cell motility,” in Nature Cell Biology, 1 (1999), and “Motility of ActA protein-coated microspheres driven by actin polymerization,” in PNAS, 96 (1999), of which L.A. Cameron and M. J. Footer were also coauthors.

Mr. van Oudenaarden joined the faculty of MIT immediately after finishing his postdoctoral fellowship. At MIT, one of his primary interests is systems biology. In 2002, he originated a graduate course in systems biology there to provide an introduction to the mathematical tools that are used to dynamically model gene and protein networks. He has been since 2007 the organizer of the Computational and Systems Biology seminar series.

He is also interested in genetic noise and networks. Two of the articles he has published in this area are “Regulation of noise in the expression of a single gene,” authored with E. Ozbudak et al., which appeared in Nature Genetics, 31 (2002), and, with M. Thattai, “Attenuation of noise in ultrasensitive signaling cascades,” in Biophysical Journal, 82 (2002). From 2005 to 2007, he was an associate editor of Biophysical Journal.

Among his many awards are the Edgerly Science Partnership Award (2000), the NSF CAREER Award (2001), an Alfred Sloan Research Fellowship (2001), the School of Science Prize for Excellence in Graduate Teaching (2007), and the NIH Director’s Pioneer Award (2007).

He spent his Guggenheim Fellowship term researching stochastic gene expression in development as a visiting professor at the Hubrecht Institute in Utrecht, the Netherlands.


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