Bar Harbor Resident Receives Mendel Medal - Mount Desert Islander

Bar Harbor Resident Receives Mendel Medal – Mount Desert Islander

BAR HARBOR — Professor Davor Solter received the 2022 Mendel Medal from the British Genetics Society. The medal is named after Gregor Mendel, known for his early genetic research on the inheritance of pea plants. This year’s ceremony in Wisley Garden, England, also honored Mendel’s 200th birthday. Solter and his wife, former Jackson Lab researcher Dr. Barbara Knowles, have a home in Bar Harbor.

Solter and Professor Azim Surani jointly received this honor for their discovery of genomic imprinting. Receiving copied genes from each parent is protective – a defect in a gene from one parent can be replaced by a normal, dominant gene from the other. “If one copy is dysfunctional,” Solter says, “you still have the other.”

Their work showed that it is possible for one of the two given genes to be inactive. If the only active gene is faulty, nothing prevents it from translating into disease or dysfunction. This has led to a better understanding of human developmental disorders.

Solter taught at the medical school of the University of Zagreb in Croatia and was a professor at the Wistar Institute in Philadelphia. In 1991 he was appointed to the Max Planck Institute and became director of their Institute of Immunobiology. He has served as director of research at an institute in Singapore, professor at Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School and visiting professor at Mahidol University Medical School in Bangkok.

Jill Goldthwait worked for 25 years as a registered nurse at Mount Desert Island Hospital. She served as a Bar Harbor alderman and independent senator for Hancock County.

Jill Goldthwait

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