Dr. Szostak is an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School, Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology (Faculty of Arts and Sciences) at Harvard University and the Alex Rich Distinguished Investigator in the Department of Molecular Biology at the Massachusetts General Hospital.
His current research interests are in the laboratory synthesis of self-replicating systems and the origin of life. He and his colleagues have developed in vitro selection as a tool for the isolation of rare functional RNA, DNA and protein molecules from large pools of random sequences. His laboratory has used in vitro selection and directed evolution to isolate and characterize numerous nucleic acid sequences with specific ligand binding and catalytic properties.
For this work, Dr. Szostak was awarded, along with Dr. Gerald Joyce, the 1994 National Academy of Sciences Award in Molecular Biology and the 1997 Sigrist Prize from the University of Bern. Dr. Szostak is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, and a Fellow of the New York Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2000, Dr. Szostak was awarded the Medal of the Genetics Society of America. Dr. Szostak has been awarded the 2009 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his original contributions to our understanding of the processes of life and of disease.