William Reznikoff elected 2020 AAAS Fellow

Bill Reznikoff has been elected to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) for deciphering the molecular details of transposition by studying a model bacterial transposon.

Understanding transposition, or the movement of DNA from one location to another, is critical to basic science.

Transposons, the elements that move from one location to another, produce mutations that are useful for creating defined defects in a wide variety of bacteria including those found humans, animals and plants. These defects provide key insights on how the organisms work.

Additionally, a critical step in many DNA sequencing protocols involves cutting DNA to short lengths, then attaching specific small sequences to the end of the cut DNA. This type of transposition reaction performs these DNA fragment reactions in a single step and is often used in sequencing genes in human and other DNA, including pathogens, animals and plants.

Bill Reznikoff speaking in front of a chalkboard
Bill Reznikoff, then MBL Director of Education, at a MBL-UChicago affiliation retreat in Chicago in 2014. Credit: UChicago News Office.

Reznikoff’s work in these areas has had significant impacts on both the genetic manipulation of bacterial genomes and the biochemistry used in DNA sequencing. His research has led to numerous WARF patents, the discoveries in which have resulted in bringing important scientific companies to the area, including Illumina to Madison (through Illumina’s acquisition of Epicentre in 2011) and Cellscript to Madison, as well as successful life science research tool products.

Reznikoff, emeritus professor of biochemistry at UW-Madison, served as faculty in the department from 1970 – 2007.

Biochemistry professors Ivan Rayment and Julian Davies (now at the University of British Columbia) collaborated on portions of the work. Three other now-UW-Madison faculty members also contributed to the work during their time in the Reznikoff lab: Jerry Yin, who was a graduate student in the lab, Audrey Gasch, an undergraduate, and Tricia Kiley, a postdoc, who was also elected a 2020 AAAS fellow.

Reznikoff, now senior research scholar at Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL), is one of six University of Wisconsin­–Madison scholars to be elected fellows in 2020.

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