Jonathan Michael Graff, MD, PhD
Dr. Graff received his M.D. and Ph.D. from Duke University, where he was an MSTP and Howard Hughes Medical Institute Graduate Student. After completing his medical training in Internal Medicine and Endocrinology at the Massachusetts General Hospital, he performed his postdoctoral research in Dr. Doug Melton’s laboratory at Harvard University as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Postdoctoral Research Fellow. Dr. Graff then joined the faculty at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, where he is involved with graduate and medical education, and with the Medical Scientist Training Program. Dr. Graff’s basic research efforts have focused on the signals that control developmental fates that are of importance to medicine — in part because understanding such processes can shed light on why cells develop in ways that cause cancer and other diseases, and in part because, with these mechanisms identified, earlier detection, prevention, and cure are nearer at hand. In these studies, Dr. Graff discovered the BMP receptor and the vertebrate Smads, and identified casein kinase I as a key component of the Wnt pathway, all of which play important roles in human health and disease. Recently, Dr. Graff’s research interests have extended to include metabolic lineages. He has demonstrated that C. elegans and D. melanogaster can be used as models for fat biology, opening new directions for obesity research. Further, he has shown that studies in those species accurately predict what will happen in mammalian cellular models, and in transgenic and knockout mice. This demonstrates that researchers can use these invertebrate species to rapidly identify important genes — and can then translate those findings to mammals. This method can provide new insights into the mechanisms of adipocyte biology, potentially identifying relevant and novel targets for obesity and diabetes therapies. Dr. Graff sits on a wide variety of research and review committees and boards of directors, and has organized a meeting of the Society for Developmental Biology. His numerous awards include the Basil O’Connor Scholarship, the Charles E. Culpeper Medical Scholar Award, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Award, and the American Cancer Society Scholar Award.