University of Vermont

Stein Appointed Chair of Biochemistry and Co-Director of Vermont Cancer Center

Gary Stein, Ph.D.
The UVM College of Medicine appointed Gary Stein, Ph.D., chair of biochemistry and co-director of the Vermont Cancer Center. (Photo courtesy of Gary Stein)

The University of Vermont College of Medicine has appointed Gary Stein, Ph.D., as professor and chair of biochemistry and co-director of the Vermont Cancer Center. Stein joins UVM from the University of Massachusetts (UMass) Medical School, where he is the Haidak Distinguished Professor of Cell Biology, co-director of the UMass Memorial Cancer Center of Excellence, chair of the department of cell biology and founding director of the UMass Human Stem Cell Bank & Registry. He will succeed Paula Tracy, Ph.D., who has served as interim chair of biochemistry since 2005, and join Claire Verschraegen, M.D., in leading the Vermont Cancer Center.

After earning his Ph.D. in biology at UVM and completing a postdoctoral fellowship in pathology at Temple University, Stein joined the faculty at the University of Florida College of Medicine where he became vice-chair of biochemistry. He joined the faculty at the UMass Medical School in 1987.

Stein directs a well-funded research program of scientists and physician investigators whose work focuses on the mechanisms controlling proliferation and differentiation in cancer cells and developing new dimensions to cancer diagnosis and therapy. Their research program, sponsored by the National Cancer Institute, research foundations and industry sources, will significantly enhance UVM’s existing programs in cancer and cell biology, and bring the editorship of three professional journals to Vermont.

Coming to UVM with Stein will be his long-standing research team of Professor Janet Stein, Professor Jane Lian, Professor Andre van Wijnen, Research Associate Shirwin Pockwinse, and Program Coordinator Priscilla Vazquez. This research group has examined cell cycle regulation in biological control and cancer, bone formation and gene regulatory mechanisms (genetic and epigenetic) that are active during development of the osteoblast phenotype by developing techniques for RNA isolation from bone and characterizing the promoters of cell growth in bone specific genes.

“We are extremely fortunate to be bringing Dr. Stein and his group to Vermont,” said Frederick C. Morin III, M.D., dean of the UVM College of Medicine. “We believe this is the largest team of investigators yet recruited to UVM, and we are excited about this opportunity to synergistically expand our research program as well as further our goal of revitalizing the Vermont Cancer Center.”

Stein has organized and chaired numerous international research conferences and serves on advisory panels for United States and foreign government science policy and granting agencies, scientific advisory boards for biotechnology, pharmaceutical and health care organizations and editorial boards of more than 20 journals. A committed mentor to more than 120 graduate students, postdoctoral students and physician scientists, Stein developed research and science education programs in his institution as well as with universities in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and South America. His research contributions are documented in more than 850 publications.

Current research initiatives of the team focus on genetic and epigenetic control of cell growth and phenotypic genes that regulate proliferation and cell function with a focus on stem cells, breast cancer, prostate cancer and leukemia. Their recent discovery of a novel dimension to epigenetic control, (published in Nature and reviewed by Stein and colleagues in Nature Reviews Cancer, Nature Reviews Genetics, Journal of Biological Chemistry and Molecular and Cellular Biology), has tremendous potential for expanding understanding of cell transformation and tumor progression as well as providing drug therapy targets.

Stein will be on the UVM campus weekly as a Visiting Professor during the spring semester. He and his group will relocate to Vermont full-time in July.