Skip to content
Fellows Directory

Charles Yanofsky

Professor Charles Yanofsky ForMemRS

Foreign Member

Elected: 1985


Charles Yanofsky is a geneticist and molecular biologist. His research focused on the control of gene expression, and he specifically investigated how protein manufacture at the cellular level — a process known as transcription — is controlled in bacteria. He established the ‘one gene–one protein’ principle, which describes the linear relationship between a gene and the specific protein that it encodes.

Through his research, Charles showed that the sequence of nitrogen bases in DNA relates exactly to the sequence of amino acids in the protein that the gene codes for. He found that changing the sequence of bases resulted in a corresponding change in the amino acid sequence.

Charles went on to investigate the control of production of the amino acid tryptophan in Escherichia coli bacteria. He found that the bacterial cells could sense how much tryptophan was already present and reduce or stop transcription as necessary. For this important research, Charles won a number of awards, including the prestigious US National Medal of Science in 2003.