Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

About the PNAS Member Editor
Name Dixon, Richard A.
Location University of North Texas
Primary Field Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences
Secondary Field Plant Biology
 Election Citation
Dixon's research in the fields of molecular genetics and genomics and on enzyme complexes for metabolic channeling has shed light on the biosynthesis of flavonoids, isoflavonoids and lignin pathways. His research as a plant biochemist may lead to agricultural enhancement and the dietary prevention of human diseases through metabolic engineering.
 Research Interests
As a plant biochemist, I have been intrigued for many years by how plants elaborate such a staggering variety of natural products. Recent advances in genomics provide the blueprint for this remarkable ability, but assigning functions to the multitude of genes involved in natural product biosynthesis requires an integrated combination of chemistry, biochemistry, genomics and genetics. Putting these pieces together has introduced me to new disciplines and, more importantly, to interesting new people who bring new perspectives to a problem I could only partly comprehend as a young faculty member starting my career at the University of London. Using the above multidisciplinary approaches, my group has helped decipher the biochemical pathways leading to flavonoids, isoflavonoids, proanthocyanidins and lignin. A second and more recently realized passion has been in the application of basic discoveries in the field of plant secondary metabolism to agricultural enhancement and the dietary prevention of human diseases through metabolic engineering. I am hopeful that work I started more than 20 years ago on the biosynthesis of lignin and flavonoids will soon lead to development of more nutritious forages, dedicated bioenergy crops, and plants or plant derived-products that provide long term protection against chronic disease.

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