Advisory Board

Sir Richard J. Roberts

Richard J. Roberts, Ph.D. is Chief Scientific Officer, Restriction Enzymes, New England Biolabs.
Rich was awarded the 1993 Nobel Prize in Medicine with Phillip Allen Sharp for the discovery of introns in eukaryotic DNA and the mechanism of gene-splicing. In 1994, he was awarded an Honorary Degree (Doctor of Science) by the University of Bath. He was knighted in 2008.
His laboratory has a long history of research on restriction enzymes and their associated DNA methyltransferases. He is interested in developing methods to find new enzymes with novel properties and he uses a combination of bioinformatics and biochemical experimentation to probe DNA sequence information from the many microbial genome sequences that are now available.
In addition, Rich is interested in the use of bioinformatics to explore the microbial genomes and use the restriction systems as a paradigm for other general types of genes that are present. One example concerns the DNA methyltransferase genes, which are a specific case of a more general class of mosaic genes that contain a mixture of well-conserved segments and more variable regions. The restriction enzyme genes exemplify the species and/or strain specific genes that typically have no homologs in GenBank. He looks for general ways to predict function in such cases.
The overall theme of his work is to use bioinformatics to make predictions that can then be tested experimentally in my laboratory. This can then lead to better bioinformatics predictions. He also runs REBASE, a database of information about restriction enzymes and their associated methyltransferases.
His papers include The Sequence of the Human Genome, An amazing sequence arrangement at the 5’ ends of adenovirus 2 messenger RNA, Predictive motifs derived from cytosine methyltransferases, Homing endonucleases: keeping the house in order, The DNA (cytosine-5) methyltransferases, A nomenclature for restriction enzymes, DNA methyltransferases, homing endonucleases and their genes, AdoMet-dependent methylation, DNA methyltransferases and base flipping, and Restriction and modification enzymes and their recognition sequences.
Rich earned his B.Sc. in Chemistry at University of Sheffield, Sheffield, England in 1965. He earned his Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry in 1968, also at the University of Sheffield.
Read Protect our Access to Medical Research. Read his Nobel Lecture An Amazing Distortion in DNA Induced by a Methlytransferase. Read his Wikipedia profile and his Nobel Prize profile.