Samuel I. Beale Professor Emeritus of Biology

I received my B.S. (1964), M.A. (1966), and Ph.D. (1970) degrees at UCLA and held several postdoctoral positions at Brookhaven National Laboratory, University of California, Davis, and The Rockefeller University before joining the faculty at Brown in 1979. My research at Brown has been supported by the National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Department of Energy. Since joining the Brown faculty I have published over 75 peer-reviewed research papers and over 20 invited review articles in the area of tetrapyrrole biosynthesis.

Brown Affiliations

Research Areas

research overview

The goal of my research is to understand the biochemical mechanisms for the formation of tetrapyrrole pigments (hemes, chlorophylls, and bilins) and how the biosynthesis of these pigments is regulated, especially in plants, algae, and bacteria.

research statement

The major focus of my research is the biochemical pathway leading to chlorophyll and other tetrapyrroles during the development of photosynthetic competence in plants, algae, and cyanobacteria. Formation of the first biochemical intermediate committed to porphyrin biosynthesis was found to follow a path altogether different from what was expected based on bacterial and animal studies. This new path is being studied with the objectives of understanding enzyme mechanisms and how the formation of tetrapyrroles is regulated in the developing plant cell.

A second area of research is the biosynthesis of a group of photosynthetic accessory pigments known as phytobilins, which are related to both the animal heme degradation products biliverdin and bilirubin and include the important plant photomorphogenetic pigment phytochrome.

Another current research interest is the study of how the photosynthetic apparatus is fine-tuned to the light environment: the intensity, spectral composition, and temporal variability. Changes in pigment content and composition as well as changes in the kinetic parameters of photosynthesis during adaptation are being studied in plants and algae. Of particular interest is how the biosynthetic pathways leading to the photosynthetic accessory pigments are regulated to effect changes in the composition of the photosynthetic apparatus during adaptation.

funded research

National Science Foundation
PCM-8003730 January 15, 1981 - January 14, 1983 $118,773
PCM-8213948 February 1, 1983 - January 31, 1986 $227,000
DMB-8518580 February 1, 1986 - July 31, 1991 $548,500
MCB-9103253 August 1, 1991 - July 31, 1995 $475,000
MCB-9505901 August 1, 1995 - July 31, 1998 $316,000
MCB-9808578 May 15, 1998 - May 14, 2003 $342,075
MCB-0079231 ICTPPO Conference July 25-30, 2001 $6,500

Department of Energy
DE-FG02-88ER13918 May 15, 1988 - May 14, 1991 $253,067
May 15, 1991 - May 14, 1995 $385,000
May 15, 1995 - May 14, 1998 $317,000
May 15, 1998 - May 14, 2003 $336,000
DE-FG02-00ER15076 ICTPPO Conference July 25-30, 2001 $4,000

U.S. Department of Agriculture
8100231 (59-2442-1-1-679-0) August 1, 1981 - July 31, 1983 $55,000
8300697 (59-2442-1-1-679-0) August 1, 1983 - July 31, 1985 $40,000
8600554 (86-CRCR-1-2047) July 1, 1986 - June 30, 1988 $80,000
8800326 (88-37130-3382) July 1, 1988 - December 31, 1990 $120,000
9101454 (91-37306-6441) July 15, 1991 - July 31, 1993 $110,000
9301501 (93-37306-9043) September 1, 1993 - July 31, 1996 $150,000
9600857 (96-35306-3409) September 15, 1996 - September 30, 2000 $186,090
9901781 (99-35306-7827) September 15, 1999 - September 30, 2002 $130,000

National Institutes of Health, U.S. Public Health Service
1-R13-DK42927-01 Gordon Conference July 23-27, 1990 $3,000

Shell Development Company January 1, 1984 - December 31, 1984 $25,000

Shell Companies Foundation January 1, 1985 - December 31, 1985 $25,000