Jil C. Tardiff, MD, PhD - Biographical Sketch

Eric Olson is the founding Chair of the Department of Molecular Biology at UT Southwestern Medical Center. He also directs the Hamon Center for Regenerative Science and Medicine and the Wellstone Center for Muscular Dystrophy Research. He holds the Robert A. Welch Distinguished Chair, the Pogue Chair in Cardiac Birth Defects and the Annie and Willie Nelson Professorship in Stem Cell Research.

Eric Olson and his trainees discovered many of the key genes and mechanisms responsible for development and disease of the heart and other muscles. Discoveries from the Olson Lab include myogenin and MEF2, the master regulators of myogenesis; Myomaker and Myomixer, the long-sought membrane regulators of myoblast fusion; the Hand transcription factors, which regulate cardiac growth and chamber specification; and myocardin, an essential activator of cardiovascular differentiation. Other discoveries include stress-response and epigenetic pathways that underlie pathological cardiac remodeling and numerous micropeptides that modulate muscle development and disease. His most recent work has provided an innovative strategy for correction of Duchenne muscular dystrophy using CRISPR gene editing. Work from Olson’s lab led to the founding of multiple biotechnology companies to design new therapies for heart and muscle disease.

Eric Olson has trained more than 150 students and postdoctoral fellows, many of whom have emerged as international leaders the field. Olson’s work has been cited over 177,000 times in the scientific literature with an h index of 227. His honors include:

Elected Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1998)
Basic Research Prize of the American Heart Association (1999)
Elected Member, U.S. National Academy of Sciences (2000)
Pasarow Foundation Award in Cardiovascular Medicine (2000)
Elected Member, National Academy of Medicine (2001)
Inaugural Distinguished Scientist Award, American Heart Association (2001)
Louis and Artur Lucian Award, McGill University (2003)
Pollin Prize in Pediatric Research, Columbia University (2005)
Outstanding Investigator Award, International Society for Heart Research (2005)
Research Achievement Award, American Heart Association (2008)
Lefoulon-Delalande Grand Prize, Académie des Sciences, Institut de France (2008)
Passano Award (2012)
March of Dimes Prize in Developmental Biology (2013)
The Eugene Braunwald Mentorship Award, American Heart Association (2016)
Libin Prize in Cardiovascular Research, Heritage Foundation, Canada (2017)
Conklin Medal, Society for Developmental Biology (2019)

In his spare time, he plays guitar and harmonica with The Transactivators, a rock band inspired by the Texas troubadour, Willie Nelson, who created the Professorship that supports his research.