Molecular mechanics of disease

The research of Robert Tjian, professor of molecular and cell biology, has provided new insights into the molecular mechanisms that underlie a host of human diseases and conditions from Huntington’s disease and cancer to diabetes and infertility. Seeking to understand how genes are controlled inside the cell, Tjian’s work focuses on proteins that regulate the expression of genes and their role in cell malfunction and disease. Tjian identified the first gene-specific transcription factor in a human cell and later co-founded Tularik to develop pharmaceuticals that regulate malfunctioning genes. Amgen, one of the world’s largest biotech firms, acquired Tularik in 2004 for $1.3 billion.