Mary Beckerle is Professor of Biology and Oncological Sciences at the University of Utah. Dr. Beckerle serves as the Executive Director of Huntsman Cancer Institute and holds the Ralph E. and Willia T. Main Presidential Endowed Chair.
She obtained her undergraduate training at Wells College and earned a PhD in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology at the University of Colorado at Boulder where she provided the initial evidence for a cytoplasmic dynein in microtubule-based intracellular transport. While a post-doctoral fellow at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Beckerle demonstrated the presence of a protease at cell-substratum adhesion sites, providing some of the earliest evidence that focal adhesions are dynamic, regulatory structures.
She subsequently identified zinc finger proteins, such as zyxin, as focal adhesion constituents and demonstrated shuttling of focal adhesion proteins to the nucleus. In recent work, Beckerle’s research team has elucidated novel pathways for the control of cell motility and has defined the mechanism by which cells reinforce their actin cytoskeltons in response to mechanical stress. Dr. Beckerle’s honors include receipt of a Guggenheim Fellowship, the American Cancer Society Sword of Hope Award, and the Utah Governor’s Medal for Science and Technology. In 2006, Beckerle served as President of the American Society for Cell Biology.