Jennifer DeLuca, professor and associate chair of graduate studies in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Colorado State University, has been named a fellow of the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB).
Election as an ASCB fellow is an honor bestowed upon members by their peers.
“ASCB Fellows represent not only top-performing scientists who have contributed significantly to cell biology and to the community of scientists studying the cell,” said Kevin Wilson, Interim Co-CEO of ASCB, “but also individuals who have demonstrated throughout their careers their commitment to ASCB’s mission.”
An ASCB member since 1996, DeLuca said “it is a great honor to be named an ASCB fellow. The society has been extremely supportive of my work and in many ways helped guide and build my career as a cell biologist.”
DeLuca was named as a fellow in part due to her research on the biomolecular underpinnings of human diseases, like cancer. Specifically, for her research on how chromosome segregation, or division, is precisely regulated during mitosis to ensure successful cell division.
Mitosis, or cell division, ensures that chromosomes, which contain all of our genetic material, are equally divided into two daughter cells.
DeLuca’s lab was the first to discover that the Ndc80/Hec1 protein is responsible for closely regulating the strength of attachment between a cell’s microtubules to its kinetochores, a precise process that aids in proper cell division.
If division is not perfectly completed during mitosis, cells can experience chromosome mis-segregation, which can form aneuploid cells that contain the incorrect number of chromosomes.
“This can be detrimental to human health,” said DeLuca, “as aneuploidy has been intimately linked to the initiation and progression of human cancers.”
The discovery of the role of the Ndc80/Hec1 protein in proper mitosis is a big step forward in the scientific community’s understanding of cancer and cancer treatment.
“Jennifer is an outstanding member of, and leader in, the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and the college as a whole” said Jan Nerger, dean of the College of Natural Sciences. “Jennifer is on the cutting edge of biochemistry research, has made extraordinary discoveries, and serves as a passionate, inclusive educator for our students. Congratulations on this well-deserved honor.”
DeLuca’s numerous achievements include the 2018 CSU Graduate Student Advising and Mentoring Award, the CSU Monfort Professorship, the Pew Scholar and the title of 2019 – 2022 College of Natural Sciences Professor Laureate, the highest honor that the college bestows. She also served as a founding member and organizer of the Colorado/Wyoming Front Range Cytoskeleton Group, has served on the ASCB Governance Task Force, has organized multiple ASCB as well as an international workshop, and is widely regarded among her colleagues and students as an excellent and inclusive educator.
James Bamburg, who nominated DeLuca, wrote in his recommendation letter that DeLuca “works unselfishly for the betterment of the cell biology community. It is her service to the scientific community, her humility, warmth, generosity, and promoting cell biology among students, regardless of age, gender identity, or ethnicity, that makes her special for recognition.”