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Department ofBiology


David Hess
David C. Hess

Associate Professor, Director Biotechnology Program


B.S. in Biology. 1997. Case Western Reserve University.
Ph.D. in Genetics. 2004. Harvard University.
Postdoctoral Fellow. 2004-2009. Princeton University.


BIOL 175 Molecular Biology
BIOL 178 Bioinformatics


Systems biology integrates cellular, molecular, genetic and computational biology to understand how any given biological process is regulated and connected to the entire cellular network. My research focuses on using eukaryote, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, to elucidate the structure of cellular regulation of biological processes such as metabolism and cell division. For thousands of years humans have been using Saccharomyces cerevisiae for both baking and brewing. My current research focuses on identifying genetic changes that have lead to specialization of Saccharmyces cerevisiae in response to domestication by humans. Current questions I am exploring are:

1. What major genetic changes separate baking strains (selected to produce CO2) versus brewing strains (selected to produce ethanol)?

2. Is there further specialization among the brewing strains (for example, is making ethanol from grape mash (wine) similar to making ethanol from rice (sake))?

3. How similar is the metabolic regulation of domesticated strains to wild isolates of Saccharomyces cerevisiae?



Hess, DC, Myers CL, Huttenhower C, Hibbs MA, Hayes, AP, Paw, J, Clore, JJ, Mendoza, RM, San Luis, B, Nislow, C, Giaever, G, Costanzo, M, Troyanskaya OG and Caudy AA. (2009) Computationally driven, quantitative experiments discover genes required for mitochondrial biogenesis. Plos Genetics.

Hibbs MA, Myers CL, Huttenhower C, Hess DC, Li K, Caudy AA, and Troyanskaya OG. (2009) Analysis of Computational Functional Genomic Approaches for Directing Experimental Biology: a Case Study in Mitochondrial Inheritance. PLoS Computational Biology.

The impact of incomplete knowledge on protein function prediction, Huttenhower, C.; Hibbs, M.A.; Myers, C.L.; Caudy, A.A.; Hess, D.C.; Troyanskaya, O.G. , Bioinformatics, (2009).

Hess, DC, Lu, W, Rabinowitz, J, and Botstein, D. (2006) Ammonium toxicity and potassium limitation in yeast. PLoS Biology.

Hess, D and Winston, F. (2005) Evidence that Spt10 and Spt21 of S. cerevisiae play distinct roles in vivo and functionally interact with MBF, SBF and Snf. Genetics.

Hess, D, Liu, B, Roan, NR, Sternglanz, R. and Winston, F. (2004) Spt10-dependent transcriptional activation requires both the Spt10 acetyltransferase domain and Spt21 in S. cerevisiae. MCB.

Press (research highlighted)

Lorenz MC (2006) A marriage of old and new: Chemostats and microarrays identify a new model system for ammonium toxicity. PLoS Biol 4(11).

LeBrasseur N (2006) Yeast's primitive urea. JCB 175(4).

Sheppard TL (2007) Poison by ammonium. Nature Chem Biol 3(22).