Thomas Pollard graduated from Pomona College in 1964 with honors in Chemistry and Zoology. At Harvard Medical School he began to investigate cellular motility. After graduating with an MD in 1968, a medical internship at the Massachusetts General Hospital and postdoctoral training at NIH, he returned to the faculty member at Harvard Medical School. He moved to Johns Hopkins Medical School in 1977 to found their Cell Biology Department. He served as President of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies before coming to Yale in 2001. His laboratory discovered and characterized proteins that produce forces for cells to move and to divide in two during cytokinesis. In addition to research and teaching, Pollard chaired his departments at the Johns Hopkins Medical School and Yale and recently was Dean of the Graduate School at Yale. He is now Sterling Professor at Yale. Pollard served as president of two scientific societies and in leadership positions at the National Academy of Sciences. Pollard’s honors include the Gairdner International Award, E.B. Wilson Award from the American Society for Cell Biology and membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Medicine. Both of Tom’s children are computational biologists: Katie is a professor at UCSF/Gladstone Institute; and Dan is a faculty member at Western Washington University.
Our laboratory investigates the molecular basis of cellular motility and cytokinesis using fission yeast as our model system and a combination of biochemistry, biophysics and quantitative microscopy. We have characterized the assembly and disassembly of actin filaments during endocytosis. We established the temporal and spatial pathway of contractile ring assembly and constriction and characterized the participating proteins. Simulations of mathematical models based on this information allow us to test our hypotheses about cytokinesis and to suggest fruitful opportunities for new research.