Following graduation with a B.A. in Chemistry from St. Olaf College in 1979, Pete Dedon obtained an M.D. and a Ph.D. in Pharmacology from the University of Rochester in 1987. He then pursued postdoctoral research in chromatin biology at the University of Rochester and the chemical biology of DNA-cleaving anticancer drugs at Harvard Medical School. In 1991, Dedon joined the MIT faculty and helped create the Department of Biological Engineering in 1998. As an Underwood Prescott Professor in Biological Engineering, he is currently the Lead PI in the SMART Antimicrobial Resistance group and a member of the MIT Center for Environmental Health Sciences.
Pete Dedon’s research program applies chemical approaches to understanding nucleic acid biology in human disease. His research group has developed a variety of analytical and informatic platforms for discovery science in epigenetics and epitranscriptomics in infectious disease and cancer. One platform coordinates comparative genomics, single-molecule real-time sequencing, and mass spectrometry to discover novel epigenetic marks, such as the Dedon Lab’s recent discovery of phosphorothioate and 7-deazaguanine modifications in bacterial and bacteriophage genomes in the human microbiome. In the realm of epitranscriptomics, his team has applied systems-level analytics to discover a mechanism of translational control of cell response in eukaryotes and bacteria involving site-specific reprogramming of tRNAs and an alternative genetic code. Pete’s research groups at MIT and in Singapore are leveraging these discoveries to develop new enzymatic tools for biotechnology, new methods for industrial microbiology and protein production, and novel antimicrobial agents in screening- and structure-based drug discovery programs.