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Illinois IGB

Lisa Stubbs Departs the University of Illinois

April 7, 2020
By: Alisa King

Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology Lisa Stubbs, a pioneer in mammalian regulatory machinery, will be departing the IGB after serving for eight years as theme leader of the Gene Networks in Neural & Developmental Plasticity (GNDP) research theme to assume a vital new role as Senior Investigator at Pacific Northwest Research Institute in Seattle, Washington.

Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology Lisa Stubbs
Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology Lisa Stubbs

Prior to coming to the University of Illinois in 2008, Stubbs earned her doctorate in biology from the University of California, San Diego, after which she completed a post doctorate at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena and later, the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg, Germany.  

“I visited UIUC for the first time 13 years ago, and the IGB really caught me by surprise,” recalled Stubbs. “As soon as I saw and met the people at the IGB, I knew I would be coming back, as I was drawn to the interdisciplinary opportunities and collaborations. I had not seen that kind of true team-science focus anywhere else I had been in the country.”

With expertise in mouse genetics, Stubbs was captivated by the genetic similarities and differences between humans and mice. As a result, some of Stubbs’ research focused on the genes that encode transcription factors known as Krüppel-type zinc-finger proteins, which varies widely between different animals and was found to play a role in neuronal development. 

During her tenure as GNDP theme leader, Stubbs helmed a multidisciplinary collaborative effort - supported by the Simons Foundation - with fellow GNDP theme members to search for similarities in social behavior by analyzing brains of different species, including humans. 

Most recently, Stubbs, in collaboration with Robert W. Schaefer Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Brendan Harley (RBTE theme leader), was further funded by the NIH to use three-dimensional systems to study neurodegenerative disease models, particularly Alzheimer’s disease. 

Stubbs has served on the steering committee for the CompGen initiative at the IGB. Outside of the IGB, Stubbs serves as associate editor for PLoS Genetics and is served a member of the National Institutes of Health Genomics, Computational Biology and Technology study section and more recently, the GNOM-G study section, which reviews Centers of Excellence in Genome Science (CEGS) proposals for the National Institute of Human Genome Research. 

"We are very sorry to see Lisa leave, but we are happy that she can return to her roots in Seattle,” said IGB director Gene Robinson (GNDP). “Lisa has been a stalwart member of the IGB and has served with distinction for eight years as leader of the Gene Networks in Neural & Developmental Plasticity Research Theme."

Michael Saul, former PhD student and IGB Fellow who is currently a Research Scientist at The Jackson Laboratory, thanked Stubbs for her mentorship. 

“It was my great honor to do science under Lisa’s mentorship during my years at the IGB,” said Saul. “Lisa is as intellectually adventurous and tenacious as they come. I am thankful for Lisa’s continued support and good advice and wish Lisa good luck and exciting new discoveries in Seattle.”

PhD student Christopher Seward also praised Stubbs for her mentorship, adding "I am extremely grateful to my advisor Dr Lisa Stubbs, for her guidance and support throughout my tenure as a graduate student. This dissertation would not have been possible without her extensive knowledge and ability to link diverse research into a cohesive story. Lisa’s unwavering support throughout countless committee meetings, fellowship applications, presentations, and manuscript revisions are just a few examples of how she is an outstanding mentor, and I am excited to continue working with her in the future." 

“It has been pure pleasure and good luck for me to be here, first as theme member, and then as theme leader,” said Stubbs. “I am looking forward to new opportunities for collaboration in Seattle but also excited and grateful that we can maintain affiliation and continue collaborations with my friends at the IGB and elsewhere on campus. I will forever be grateful for my twelve years here and hope to stay in close touch in the future.”


April 7, 2020
By: Alisa King


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