Peter Baumann is an Investigator at the Stowers Institute for Medical Research in Kansas City and holds an adjunct Associate Professor appointment in the Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology at Kansas University medical School. Peter was named a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Early Career Scientist in 2009 and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator in 2013. Also in 2013, Peter was named the Priscilla Wood Neaves Endowed Chair in the Biomedical Sciences.
A native of Germany, Peter started his undergraduate in Bayreuth, a picturesque university town in Southern Germany. After completing his Vordiplom, Peter moved to Cambridge (U.K.) as part of an initiative by the Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes (German National Merit Foundation) and the Edmond Rothschild Foundation to promote academic exchange. A member of Pembroke College, Peter obtained his B.A. in Zoology and has fond memories of working with Dr. Helen Skaer on the involvement of the Drosophila EGF receptor homologue (DER) in the development of the Malpighian tubules.
The following year, he joined Dr. Steve Jackson’s group at the Wellcome/CRC Institute (now Wellcome Trust/Cancer Research UK Gurdon Institute) to study the transcriptional apparatus in archaea. The Institute in general, and the adjacent labs of Steve Jackson and Tony Kouzarides in particular, provided a friendly and incredibly stimulating environment for research. Peter’s work on basal transcription factors in thermophilic Pyrococcus and Sulfolobus species contributed to the realization that the transcriptional machinery in these ancient organisms is fundamentally similar to the one in human cells.
In 1994, Peter moved to the laboratory of Dr. Stephen West at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund, Clare Hall Laboratories (now Cancer Research UK). Over the next four years he purified and characterized several factors involved in homologous recombination and DNA repair in human cells. Peter could not imagine a better place for having been a graduate student than the Clare Hall Laboratories. Rarely does one find such a high concentration of outstanding laboratories in close proximity to each other. The atmosphere was terrific – scientifically as well as socially. Based on his research at the Clare Hall Laboratories, Peter earned a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of London in 1998.
The same year Peter received a Wellcome Prize Traveling Research Fellowship from the Wellcome Trust UK to carry out postdoctoral research with Dr. Tom Cech, a Nobel Laureate and former President of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. The exceptional success of the laboratory seemed to be founded on a work-hard-play-hard attitude and long days in the lab alternated with time spent rock climbing, hiking and skiing in the Rocky Mountains. During his time in Boulder, Peter’s research interests expanded into the area of telomeres and the fundamental question of how chromosome ends are distinguished from DNA breaks. In 2000, Peter discovered telomere end binding proteins in fission yeast and human cells. Deletion of the gene in yeast led to rapid loss of telomeres, chromosome fusions and death of most cells. Based on these phenotypes he named the protein Pot1 for Protection Of Telomeres.
Peter joined the Stowers Institute as an independent investigator in June 2002 where he continues his research into telomere maintenance and chromosome stability using both fission yeast and mammalian cells. For more details on Peter’s current research, click see the research tab above.
Peter is a Pew Scholar in Biomedical Sciences and the recipient of a Basil O’ Connor Scholar Research Award from the March of Dimes. He enjoys working closely with students, postdocs, and technicians and spends most of his time on research. Over the last few years, the lab has been involved in an active training program for undergraduates and summer students from the Ecole Polytechnique, Emory School of Medicine, Texas A&M, and several other universities.