David Page studies the genetic and developmental foundations of human reproduction, including genetic differences between males and females. His...
David Page studies the genetic and developmental foundations of human reproduction, including genetic differences between males and females. His laboratory conducts DNA sequence-based explorations of human and other vertebrate sex chromosomes, with particular attention to the male-specific Y chromosome and its roles in sperm production and male infertility. The Page laboratory is also elucidating how sex cells – the precursors of eggs and sperm – arise and develop in mammalian embryos and adults.
The Page laboratory reconstructed the evolution of today's X and Y chromosomes from an ancestral pair of chromosomes that existed 300 million years ago. His laboratory discovered molecular evolutionary mechanisms by which the Y chromosome became functionally specialized in spermatogenesis. The Page laboratory also discovered and characterized the most common genetic cause of spermatogenic failure in humans: deletion of the AZFc region of the Y chromosome.
In 2003, working in concert with the Washington University Genome Sequencing Center, Page and colleagues completed sequencing of the human Y chromosome, and in doing so discovered that most of the Y chromosome’s sperm production genes exist as mirror-image pairs on massive palindromes. They determined that these palindromes are sites of frequent gene conversion and, thus, that the male-specific chromosome continues to actively recombine despite the absence of conventional crossing over with a partner chromosome.
David Page earned a B.A. from Swarthmore College in 1978 and an M.D. from Harvard Medical School and the Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology Program in 1984. He immediately joined the Whitehead Institute as the first Whitehead Fellow, and he has remained there since. He is presently an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Professor of Biology at MIT, and Director of the Whitehead Institute. His honors include Science magazine’s Top 10 Scientific Advances of the Year (in 1992 and again in 2003) and a MacArthur Prize Fellowship. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2005 and to the Institute of Medicine in 2008.