Eric Greene is a Professor in the Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biophysics at Columbia University. Dr. Greene’s laboratory pioneered development of novel technologies for studying protein–nucleic acid interactions at the single–molecule level using real–time optical microscopy with an overarching goal of seeking to understand the molecular mechanisms that cells use to repair, maintain, and decode their genetic information. This research combines aspects of biochemistry, physics, and nanoscale technology to address complex biological problems that cannot easily be addressed through traditional biochemical or genetic approaches. The advantages of the technologies developed in the Greene group are that enable one to see what proteins are bound to DNA, where they are bound, how they move, and how they interact with and influence partner proteins – all at the level of biochemical single reactions. Using these approaches, the Greene laboratory has tackled problems related to: understanding how CRIPSR systems locate specific DNA target site sites; understanding how the SMC (structural maintenance of chromosomes)complex condensin contributes to higher–order chromosome organization; and defining the mechanisms involved in homologous DNA recombination.
Dr. Greene was born on Elmendorf Air Force Base in Anchorage, Alaska and grew up in Carbondale, Illinois. He received a B.S. in Biochemistry in 1994 from the University of Illinois, Champaign–Urbana, where he conducted undergraduate research on restriction endonucleases in the laboratory of Dick Gumport. He received his Ph.D. in 1998 working under the guidance of Dr. Dorothy Shippen in the Department of Biochemistry at Texas A&M for research seeking to understand how the biochemical properties of telomerase change during the developmental life–cycle of Euplotes crassus. Dr. Greene conducted postdoctoral research at the National Institutes of Health with Dr. Kiyoshi Mizuuchi from 1999–2003, where he worked on site–specific DNA recombination. Dr. Greene began as an Assistant Professor at Columbia in 2004, he was promoted to Associate Professor in 2010 and achieved the rank of Full Professor in 2015. Dr. Greene was the recipient of the 2005 March of Dimes Basil O’Connor Starter Scholar Research Award, the 2005 Breast Cancer Alliance Young Investigator Award, the 2005 Irma T. Hirschl and Monique Weill-Caulier Career Scientist Award and the 2009 Doctor Harold and Golden Lamport Research Award in Basic Sciences. Dr. Greene was selected by the National Science Foundation to receive a 2007 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) and in 2009 he received at Early Career Scientist Award from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Dr. Greene enjoys fly fishing and hiking in his spare time.
Dr. Greene’s advice to current graduate students:
“To be successful in Science you have to be able to communicate the importance of your work both in writing and in person; the ability to effectively communicate is perhaps one of the most important skills you can cultivate during graduate school. Beyond graduate school, I can offer three tips for those students who may be interested in academic careers. First, only choose problems that you find exciting – this is crucial – working on problems that you find personally interesting makes it much easier to have fun and easier to convey the importance of your work to a broad audience. Second, surround yourself with people who are competent, creative and driven – your success is dependent upon the efforts, intellect and advice of the people in your laboratory, your colleagues and your collaborators. Finally, you must learn to say “no”… This is more difficult than it may seem because there is always a temptation to try to please people around you (for example, your Department Head) – know your own limits and don’t overextend yourself to the point where your own work suffers.”