Thomas Steitz

Thomas Steitz's picture
Sterling Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry and Professor of Chemistry
266 Whitney Ave, New Haven, CT 06511-8902
203 432 5617

Professor of Chemistry
Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Member of Yale faculty since 1970

Research Our general goal has been to understand the structural bases of the molecular and chemical mechanisms by which proteins and nucleic acids achieve their biological functions. We have focused on: (1) enzyme reaction mechanisms, and (2) the protein-nucleic acid interactions exhibited in replication, transcription, translation, and recombination. Our focus continues to be on DNA replication by the replisome, transcription by T7 RNA polymerase, and the various steps of protein synthesis by the ribosome and associated factors.

These macromolecular mechanisms are being investigated using x-ray crystal structure determination of appropriate macromolecular complexes, as well as testing of hypotheses using site directed mutagenesis and biochemical studies to relate structure to function.


B.A. Lawrence College, 1962
Ph.D. Harvard University, 1966
Postdoctoral Fellow, Harvard University Chemistry, 1966-67
Postdoctoral Fellow, MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge (England), 1967-70


Macy Fellow, Göttengen, Germany, 1976-77
Pfizer Award in Enzyme Chemistry from ACS, 1980
Honorary D.Sc., Lawrence University, 1981
Fairchild Scholar, Caltech, 1984-85
Investigator, The Howard Hughes Medical Institute, 1986-present
Member, National Academy of Sciences, 1990
Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1990
Sterling Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, 2001-present
AAAS Newcomb Cleveland Prize, 2001
Rosenstiel Award for Distinguished Work in Basic Medical Sciences, 2001
Lawrence University Lucia R. Briggs Distinguished Achievement Award, 2002
Fellow, American Academy of Microbiology, 2003
Frank H. Westheimer Medal, Harvard University, 2004
Keio Medical Science Prize, 2006
Gairdner International Award, 2007
Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 2009
Honorary Fellow, Royal Society of Chemistry, 2010
Foreign Member, Royale Society, 2011

Recent Publications

N. Ban, P. Nissen, J. Hansen, P.B. Moore, & T.A. Steitz. The complete atomic structure of the large ribosomal subunit at 2.4 Â resolution. Science 2000, 289, 905-920.

T.M. Schmeing, K.S. Huang, S.A. Strobel, & T.A. Steitz. An induced-fit mechanism to promote peptide bond formation and exclude hydrolysis of peptidyl-tRNA. Nature 2005, 428, 520-524.

S. Bailey, W.K. Eliason, & T. A. Steitz. Structure of hexameric DnaB helicase and its complex with a domain of DnaG. Science 2007, 318, 459-463.

K.J. Durniak, S. Bailey, & T.A. Steitz. The structure of a transcribing T7 RNA polymerase complex captured during its transition from initiation to elongation.Science 2008, 322, 553-557.

M.G. Gagnon, S.V. Seetharaman, D. Bulkley, & T.A. Steitz. Structural basis for the rescue of stalled ribosomes: Crystal structure of YaeJ bound to the 70S ribosome. Science 2012, 335, 1370-1372.

Research Interests