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Professor Steve Oliver, Department of Biochemistry, is to be presented with the Genetics Society of America Yeast Genetics Meeting’s Lifetime Achievement Award at Stanford University in August 2018.

Steve Oliver started working with yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae, baker’s yeast) as a graduate student, and has studied this model organism ever since. A key part of his research began in the mid-1980’s when his group commenced the sequencing of yeast chromosome III; initiating the yeast genome-sequencing project. Over the coming years this grew into a major European collaboration, resulting in the sequencing of the entire yeast genome (the first full genome sequenced of any eukaryote), which was published in 1996. With the yeast genome complete, Steve then took up the challenge of determining functions for the many new genes identified through the genome project, leading the EUROFAN Consortium that pioneered many of the ‘omic’ and high-throughput technologies in use across the biological sciences.

Today, Steve’s research group continues to unravel the workings of the yeast cell, using both top-down (whole organism analysis through ‘omics and bioinformatics techniques) and bottom-up (experimental methods testing hypotheses at the level of individual pathways and molecules) systems biology approaches to determine how its 6,000 genes interact to allow it to grow, divide, develop, and respond to environmental changes. In addition, the laboratory is developing yeast as systems for the study, understanding and combating of human diseases. This has included using yeast to predict the impact of gene copy number variations in cancer and for the screening of drugs against parasitic diseases. His group is also developing novel methods of computer modelling of the regulation and execution of yeast metabolism, enabling not only the design of yeast strains for biotechnological processes but also for the real-time control of such processes.

In terms of community service, alongside his leadership role in major international research projects, Steve is a UK representative on the International Commission on Yeast and the UK member of the Finance & Policy Committee of the International Conference on Yeast Genetics and Molecular Biology. Steve organised and hosted this International Conference in Manchester in 2009. Finally, Steve is the Principle Investigator of the group that maintains PomBase, the model organism database that provides organization of and access to scientific data for the fission yeast, Schizosaccharomyces pombe.

The Genetics Society of America Yeast Genetics Meeting’s Lifetime Achievement Award is presented for “lifetime contributions in the field of yeast genetics and outstanding community service”. A list of previous recipients of the award can be found here.

Date awarded

01 November 2017

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