Robert M. Nissen: About Me

B.A. (94) Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, UC Berkeley
Ph.D. (00) Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, UC San Francisco
Postdoc (00-05) Developmental Genetics, MIT

I grew up in the greater Los Angeles area and am a first-generation college graduate. I began my studies at Riverside Community College. My initial interests were not in the sciences, but after taking an invertebrate zoology course taught by an amazing instructor, I chose to major in Biology. After spending a summer at CSU Long Beach taking general chemistry, I transferred to UC Berkeley. While there, I completed my honors undergraduate research project on x-ray crystallography and structure-function studies in the Stevens lab. Given my initial interest in structure-function, I spent most of my first year as a graduate student at UCSF working on x-ray crystallographic projects. My last quarter rotation in the Yamamoto lab exposed me to the fascinating world of gene regulation and convinced me to focus my PhD studies in unraveling transcriptional regulatory mechanisms. While completing my PhD on the anti-inflammatory mechanisms of glucocorticoid repression of NFkB transcriptional activity, I became interested in animal development. Upon finishing my PhD, I left San Francisco to Cambridge where I joined the Hopkins lab to help complete the insertional mutagenesis screen in the zebrafish, Danio rerio. Five winters later, I returned to California with a group of zebrafish mutants exhibiting defects in the formation of the craniofacial apparatus. My research endeavors have been supported by grants from the NIH and NSF. I am additionally involved in administering grants from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, The California Wellness Foundation, and the US Department of Education. My teaching interests are primarily focused in the areas of cell and molecular biology.