Geisel Researcher Appointed to Cohn Professorship

Giovanni Bosco, PhD, a professor of Molecular and Systems Biology, has been appointed to the Oscar M. Cohn 1934 Professorship.

Established with gifts from Oscar M. Cohn, a 1934 graduate of Dartmouth College and a business executive in Bloomington, IL, the Professorship is awarded to a faculty member working in the area of cancer and its treatment at a basic level. Cohn’s interest in cancer research, cancer prevention, and molecular genetics inspired him to endow this professorship at the medical school in 1988.

Bosco’s lab works on the structure and shape of chromosomes and how genetic information contained on chromosomes is safeguarded against loss or corruption. By studying the activities of tiny cellular machines, called condensins, which apply force on chromosomes, the researchers seek to understand how dynamic chromosome structures change over time and ensure that our genetic material is partitioned appropriately when cells divide. Failure to correctly segregate genetic information on chromosomes during cell division is a hallmark of cancer cells, and some believe that mutations in the condensin cellular machines contribute to abnormal segregation of chromosomes, thereby promoting proliferation of cancer cells. By understanding how the condensin machines work in normal cells Bosco seeks to understand what goes awry during the very initial steps of cellular transformation from normal to cancerous growth.

“Gio has demonstrated exceptional creativity in how he approaches understanding of fundamental genetic and cell biological mechanisms,” says Duane Compton, PhD, interim dean at Geisel School of Medicine. “His work will lead to insights into the genetic etiology of cancer and behavior.”

Bosco’s research also centers on learning, memory, aging, and mechanisms of trans-generational inheritance.

"I am humbled and privileged to receive this honor—humbled because I know that so many of my colleagues at Geisel are as deserving of this type of recognition and honored to be part of a distinguished group of faculty who previously received the Oscar M. Cohn Professorship,” Bosco says. “This will allow my research group to explore new avenues of discovery that would otherwise be deemed a bit daring or preliminary for traditional funding sources, and gives us a significant degree of freedom as we pursue new high-risk projects. I am very grateful to Geisel Interim Dean Duane Compton, Provost Carolyn Dever, and the Trustees of Dartmouth College for this recognition."

Jay C. Dunlap, PhD, professor of genetics and chair of the Department of Molecular and Systems Biology, says of Bosco, “We in MSB are thrilled to see Professor Bosco honored in this way with the Cohn Professorship, which at once recognizes past successes and anchors future breakthroughs. The work of building and sustaining a world class faculty is encapsulated in individual actions such as this.”

Last year, Bosco received a prestigious multi-million dollar Pioneer Award from the National Institutes of Health, which provides financial support for exceptional investigators pursuing bold, highly innovative research projects, for his work exploring the behavioral epigenetics of fruit flies—whether or not cognitive experiences can influence trans-generational heritable traits, such as social behaviors.