Eric Olson is professor and chair of the Department of Molecular Biology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, where he also holds the Robert A. Welch Distinguished Chair, the Pogue Distinguished Chair in Research on Cardiac Birth Defects and the Annie and Willie Nelson Professorship in Stem Cell Research.
Dr. Olson attended Wake Forest University, receiving a B.A. in Chemistry and Biology, a Ph.D. in Biochemistry, and later an honorary doctorate. After postdoctoral training at Washington University School of Medicine with Dr. Luis Glaser, he joined the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at MD Anderson Cancer Center in 1984 and became Professor and Chairman in 1991. In 1995, he founded the Department of Molecular Biology at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.
Eric Olson discovered many of the key transcription factors and mechanisms responsible for development and disease of the heart and other muscles. Olson’s discoveries at the interface of developmental biology and medicine have illuminated the fundamental principles of organ formation and have provided new concepts in the quest for cardiovascular therapeutics.
Eric Olson has trained a succession of outstanding students and postdoctoral fellows, many of whom are emerging leaders in cardiovascular medicine. He is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Dr. Olson’s work has been recognized by the Basic Research Prize and Research Achievement Award from the American Heart Association, the Pasarow Medical Research Award, the Pollin Prize, the Passano Prize, and the March of Dimes Prize in Developmental Biology. In 2009, the French Academy of Science awarded Dr. Olson the Fondation Lefoulon-Delalande Grand Prize for Science.
Dr. Olson has co-founded multiple biotechnology companies to design new therapies for heart muscle disease based on his research. In his spare time, he plays guitar and harmonica with The Transactivators, a rock band inspired by the Texas icon, Willie Nelson, who created the Professorship that supports his research.
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