Dr. Paul E. Hardin, professor of biology at Texas A&M University and an international expert in biological clocks, has been appointed as the inaugural holder of the John W. "Bill" Lyons Jr. '59 Endowed Chair in Biology, announced Dr. Vincent M. Cassone, head of the Department of Biology.

The $1 million chair, which marks the first ever created in the Department, was established by Lyons, who graduated from Texas A&M in 1959 with a bachelor's degree in biology. Funds generated by the chair will be used to attract and retain high-quality faculty members in the Department of Biology and to support their teaching, research, service and professional development activities.

Hardin's research was the first to define the feedback loop in gene expression that comprises the core "circadian," or 24-hour, timekeeping mechanism in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. His subsequent work identified the so-called "e-box" in the promoter region of the period gene that governs its rhythmic transcription -- work that formed the basis for a large body of research into the molecular nature of circadian timekeeping in both Drosophila and mammals.

Hardin's research group also identified complex multiple feedback loops of gene expression controlling fly biological clocks and characterized a well-defined physiological output of this rhythmic gene expression in the form of rhythmic olfactory function.

According to Cassone, the addition of Hardin gives Texas A&M one of the strongest groups worldwide in the burgeoning field of biological clocks research. Moreover, he said, it gives the Department added strength in an equally important arena -- the classroom.

"I really believe our best researchers are our best teachers," Cassone explained. "Contrary to a misguided popular notion, all of our tenured and tenure-track faculty teach, from assistant to distinguished professors. And, to paraphrase an old joke, 'we like it!'"

Apparently, so does Hardin, who, in accepting the prestigious honor, returns to the site of his first academic appointment -- Texas A&M, where he previously served as an assistant professor of biology from 1991 to 1995. In the years since leaving Texas A&M for an associate professorship at the University of Houston, Hardin has established himself as a world leader in the field of chronobiology, or the study of biological clocks, authoring or co-authoring more than 50 research journal articles and numerous conference presentations. He received the international Aschoff-Honma Prize in Chronobiology in 2003.

Hardin first began investigating the Drosophila biological clock in 1987 as a post-doctoral fellow with Dr. Michael Rosbash at Brandeis University after earning a doctorate in genetics from Indiana University (1987) and a bachelor of science in biology from Southern Methodist University (1982).

"It is a great honor to be the inaugural holder of the Lyons Chair, which will allow my research group to explore exciting new areas of circadian biology," Hardin said. "I am grateful that Texas A&M has former students like Bill Lyons, who understands that first-rate faculty are key to building strong research and educational programs that enhance the academic reputation of this institution."

Lyons is principal owner of Sea Lion Technology Inc. and Texas Molecular Limited Partnership and a partner in Lyons & Plackemeier in Dickinson, Texas. A 2006 inductee into the College of Science's Academy of Distinguished Former Students, he is a longtime proponent of biological research and the promotion of science and higher education. In addition to supporting a variety of research and development projects at Texas A&M's Galveston campus, Lyons is a generous contributor to Texas A&M Athletics and to scholarships benefiting high school students in the Texas City/Galveston area.

Cassone said Hardin's return would not have been possible without the gift from Lyons, who contends that quality professors are needed to bring in quality students to help keep Texas A&M and the United States at the forefront of related educational and research efforts.

"It will take a lot of young people with talent and innovation to stay on top in medicine and science," Lyons added.

A respected biological clocks researcher in his own right, Cassone hopes this first chair will "open the floodgates" of funding that will help bring additional scholars of Hardin's caliber to Texas A&M.

To learn more about Hardin and his research, visit http://www.bio.tamu.edu/FACMENU/FACULTY/hardin.htm.


Contact: Shana K. Hutchins, (979) 862-1237 or shutchins@science.tamu.edu or Dr. Paul E. Hardin, (979) 458-4479 or phardin@mail.bio.tamu.edu

Hutchins Shana

  • Full Circle

    Dr. Paul E. Hardin's return to Texas A&M as the inaugural holder of the John W. "Bill" Lyons Jr. Endowed Chair in Biology marks a homecoming of sorts. The university was the site of his first academic appointment in 1991 as an assistant professor of biology.

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