Elaine Fuchs

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Elaine V. Fuchs (born 1950) is an American cell biologist, famous for her work on the biology and molecular mechanisms of mammalian skin and skin diseases, and has led the modernization of dermatology. Fuchs also pioneered reverse genetics approaches, which assess protein function first and then assesses its role in development and disease. In particular, Fuchs researches skin stem cells, and their production of hair and skin. She is currently the Rebecca C. Lancefield Professor of Mammalian Cell Biology and Development at Rockefeller University.


Fuchs grew up outside Chicago, in a family of scientists—her father, aunt, and sister were also scientists, and her family encouraged her to pursue higher education.

Fuchs earned a B.S. in chemistry in 1972 from the University of Illinois, graduating with highest distinction in the Chemical Sciences. She began as one of only three women in an undergraduate physics class of 200. Fuchs was politically active during college, protesting the Vietnam War and applying to the Peace Corps. However, when she was assigned to Uganda, then under the dictatorship of Idi Amin, she elected to go directly to graduate school instead.

Fuchs earned her Ph.D. in biochemistry from Princeton University, working with Charles Gilvarg. For her doctoral work, Fuchs studied changes in bacterial cell walls -- the biosynthesis and assembly of the...
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