Professor Clifford Tabin ForMemRS
Clifford Tabin has made diverse contributions to developmental biology and, in particular, pattern formation — how the body’s form and structure is correctly established in the embryo. Most significant is his identification of a signalling cascade that implicates Sonic hedgehog, a secreted morphogen, in the creation of asymmetry in vertebrates — for example, why the heart forms on the left, and not the right, of the body.
Originally a physicist, Clifford chose to conduct his doctoral studies on the newly discovered recombinant DNA techniques and oncogenes. He constructed the first modified virus that could transfer DNA into eukaryotic cells — now a powerful molecular biology tool. His later work in developmental biology has answered fundamental questions such as why the leg differs from the arm and why intestines coil in a specific direction.
Clifford has received prestigious awards, including the 1999 National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Award in Molecular Biology and the 2012 Conklin Medal of the Society for Developmental Biology. He is also an elected Member of the NAS and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.