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Dr. Sergei M. Mirkin currently holds a title of the White Family Chair in Biology at Tufts University.
Dr. Mirkin was born in Moscow, Russia in 1956 from a violinist father and an engineer mother. In contrast with family traditions, he decided to become a geneticist early on in his life by joining a competitive biology program in the elite High School #135 in Moscow.
Dr. Mirkin received B.S. and M.S. in Genetics from the Moscow State University in 1978, followed by a Ph.D. in Molecular biology from the Institute of Molecular Genetics, Russian Academy of Sciences, in 1983. During his graduate studies under the supervision of Prof. Roman B. Khesin, he isolated one of the first conditionally lethal mutants of DNA gyrase and found that this enzyme is essential for both DNA replication and transcription in E. coli. (Read Dr. Mirkin's essay about his Ph.D. advisor R. B. Khesin, where he reminisces about scientific life in the Soviet Russia: [PDF in English] [PDF in Russian]
He then carried out his postdoctoral studies at the same Institute under the supervision of Prof. Maxim D. Frank-Kamenetskii (currently at Boston University), studying conformational transitions in superhelical DNA. His research has led to the discovery of the first multi-stranded DNA structure, called H-DNA, which is formed by homopurine-homopyrimidine mirror repeats. This pioneering study triggered a worldwide interest in triplex DNA and other unusual DNA structures.
Dr. Mirkin was appointed a Group Leader at the Institute of Molecular Genetics in Moscow in 1988. Anticipating the demise of the Russian science due to the collapse of the Soviet Union, he moved to the United States in 1989 and became an Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, College of Medicine in 1990. During his years at UIC, he rose in ranks to the Full Professor becoming an internationally recognized leader in the field of DNA structure and functioning, broadly defined. One of his major achievements was unraveling the replication mechanism of the expansion of triplet repeats – a phenomenon responsible for more than two dozens of human hereditary disorders. In 2007, he moved to Tufts University to become the White Family Chair in Biology. Dr. Mirkin has published over ninety scientific papers, including numerous book chapters and scientific reviews.
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