Joan A. Steitz

Joan A. Steitz

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Joan A. Steitz

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Joan Argetsinger Steitz (born 26 January 1941) is a molecular biologist at Yale University, famed for her discoveries involving RNA, including ground-breaking insights such as that ribosomes interact with mRNA by complementary base pairing and that introns are spliced by snRNPs, small nuclear ribonucleoproteins which occur in eukaryotes (such as yeasts and humans).

Life and career

Steitz was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She grew up in Minnesota in the 1950s and 60s at a time when there were virtually no female role models in molecular biology. She attended the then all-girls Northrop College for high school.

She received her B.S. in chemistry from Antioch College, Ohio, (1963), where she first became interested in molecular biology at Alex Rich's MIT laboratory as an Antioch "coop" intern.

After completing her B.S., Steitz applied to medical school rather than graduate school since she knew of female medical doctors but not female scientists. She was accepted to Harvard Medical School, but having been excited by a summer working as a bench scientist in the laboratory of Joseph Gall at the University of Minnesota, she declined the invitation to Harvard Medical School and instead applied to Harvard's new program in biochemistry and molecular biology. There, she was the first female...
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