Mary Dasso, BA '84

Major: Chemistry

Senior Investigator, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

Mary DassoMary graduated from the Clark Honors College in 1984 with a bachelor’s in chemistry. She was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and named one of the Oregon Six - an honor given to the six most outstanding graduating students each year. She wrote her honors college thesis on Studies on Bacteriophage T4 DNA Polymerase.

Mary was the first University of Oregon student to be awarded the prestigious Marshall Scholarship. As a Marshall Scholar, she studied biochemistry at the University of Cambridge in the laboratory of Richard Jackson FRS, and Nobel laureate Tim Hunt. After receiving her Ph.D. in 1988, she was a Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow in the laboratory of John Newport at UC San Diego, and a senior staff fellow and a tenure-track investigator in the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD).

Currently a Senior Investigator at NICHD, part of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, Mary's group seeks to understand how individual cells divide to produce two cells with identical and undamaged sets of chromosomes. In cancers, this process often goes wrong, leading to cells with damaged or unequal numbers of chromosomes. So far, they've discovered that a protein named Ran plays a critical role in partitioning chromosomes to daughter cells. The aim of their ongoing work is to decipher Ran’s role at a molecular level, and to apply this knowledge towards a better understanding and treatment of human disease.

Mary was celebrated with a prestigious Alumni Award at the 50th Anniversary Celebration Gala of the Clark Honors College.

February 19, 2010