Douglas Wallace, PhD
Director of the Center for Mitochondrial and Epigenomic Medicine at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, USA
Dr. Wallace is a geneticist and evolutionary biologist at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia in Pennsylvania, where he serves as Director of the Center for Mitochondrial and Epigenomic Medicine and holds the Michael and Charles Barnett Endowed Chair in Pediatric Mitochondrial Medicine and Metabolic Diseases.
Dr. Wallace’s involvement in academics began in 1976, where he served as an Assistant Professor at the Stanford University School of Medicine beginning. In 1983, he became a professor (Adjunct Professor) of Biochemistry, Anthropology and Pediatrics (Genetics) at Emory University. From 1996 to 2002, Dr. Wallace was Chairperson and Senior Editor of the Mitochondrial DNA Locus-Specific Database for the Human Genome Organisation (HUGO). By 2002, Dr. Wallace had assumed a professorship of Molecular Genetics at the University of California, Irvine and founded their Center for Molecular and Mitochondrial Medicine and Genetics. It was in 2010 that he earned his current positions, becoming a professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and the founding director of the Center for Mitochondrial and Epigenomic Medicine at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
More than 35 years ago, Dr. Wallace and his colleagues founded the field of human mitochondrial genetics. He pioneered the use of human mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) as a molecular marker, showing that the mtDNA is inherited exclusively from the mother and that genetic alterations in the mtDNA can result in a wide range of metabolic and degenerative diseases as well as being important in cancer and aging. One of Dr. Wallace’s seminal contributions is the use of mtDNA variation to reconstruct the origin and ancient migrations of women. These studies revealed that humans arose in Africa approximately 200,000 years ago, that women left Africa about 65,000 years ago to colonize Eurasia, and from Siberia, they crossed the Bering land bridge to populate the Americas. Studies on the paternally inherited Y chromosome showed that men went along too.
Wallace earned a Bachelor of Science in Genetics and Developmental Biology at Cornell University in 1968, a Master of Philosophy in Microbiology and Human Genetics at Yale University in 1972, and a PhD in Microbiology and Human Genetics at Yale University in 1975. His dissertation was titled Cytoplasmic genetics in mammalian tissue culture cells.