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Kateryna Makova selected as Holder of the Verne M. Willaman Chair in the Life Sciences
9 October 2020
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Kateryna Makova

Kateryna Makova, Pentz Professor of Biology at Penn State, has been appointed as Holder of the Verne M. Willaman Chair in the Life Sciences. The appointment, effective on September 1, was made by the Office of the President of the University, based on the recommendation of the dean, in recognition of Makova’s national and international reputation for excellence in research and teaching.

Makova’s research is focused on genomics, evolution, and human genetics. Her laboratory uses computational and experimental approaches to study genetic mutations, or changes in DNA, looking at the rates and patterns of different types of mutations among different regions in vertebrate genomes. Her group uses this information to make inferences about the molecular mechanisms leading to mutations that are the cause of human genetic diseases.

Current projects in the Makova lab include evolutionary studies of the male-specific Y chromosome among the great apes, tracking mutations in the genome of the mitochondria—a subcellular organelle thought of as the powerhouse of the cell—between parents and children, and a study of childhood obesity using genomics, microbiomics, metabolomics, and epigenetics. Her laboratory is highly interdisciplinary and collaborative.

Makova is the director for the Center of Medical Genomics, an organization that brings together Penn State researchers in medicine, genomics, molecular biology, and statistics to advance basic genomic research and translate that research into new diagnostic, therapeutic, and preventive medical strategies. In 2013, Makova was appointed the Francis R. and Helen M. Pentz Professor of Science by the Eberly College of Science.

Makova earned a doctoral degree in biology at Texas Tech University in 1999 and a master's degree in biochemistry and molecular biology at the Kiev State University in Ukraine in 1995. Prior to joining the Penn State faculty in 2003, she had been a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Chicago since 1999.