Alexander Gann

Alexander Gann

SBS Professor

Ph.D., University of Edinburgh, 1989

ganna@cshl.edu | 516-367-6914

Faculty Profile

My major areas of interest are gene regulation and the history of molecular biology.

After receiving my undergraduate degree from University College London, I spent most of the next ten years engaged in research. Those research years were spent first in Edinburgh, where I obtained my Ph.D. working on restriction enzymes with Noreen Murray; then, at Harvard, where I worked on mechanisms of gene regulation with Mark Ptashne; and finally, back at UCL, on newt limb regeneration with Jeremy Brockes. This led to a job as lecturer in Developmental Biology at Lancaster University (in the North of England) where, in addition to pursuing my interests in both regeneration and transcriptional regulation, I taught undergraduates.

Throughout, I was intrigued by scientific publishing and education. This interest began as soon as I encountered my first textbooks—and noted the contrast between those that inspired and those that didn’t—and persisted as I was exposed to research journals and professional scientific publications. Indeed, reading the books and journals always brought me greater satisfaction than performing experiments. This preference led me to the journal Nature where I worked as an assistant biology editor for a year in 1991, and later to CSHL Press where I served as Editorial Director until 2013. I mainly worked on acquiring and developing a range of lab manuals, monographs and textbooks. At CSHL, I was also able to pursue my interests in education, first as Professor in the School of Biological Sciences, then as Dean from 2012-2022.

My major areas of interest are gene regulation and the history of molecular biology. I am coauthor of the book Genes and Signals (with Mark Ptashne), and three editions of the textbook Molecular Biology of the Gene (with James Watson and others). On historical topics, as well as the papers listed below, I edited the book Life Illuminated: selected papers from Cold Spring Harbor 1972–1994 (with Jan Witkowski and Joe Sambrook), and, most recently, The Annotated and Illustrated Double Helix (also with Jan Witkowski).

All Publications

Corvo, Crick and Uncle Syd For Sydney Brenner, 1927-2019

20 May 2019 | Current Biology | 29(10):R346-R348
Gann, A

Noreen Elizabeth Murray CBE. 26 February 1935 — 12 May 2011

9 Jul 2014 | Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society | 60:349-374
Gann, Alexander, Beggs, Jean

DNA: Archives reveal Nobel nominations

25 Apr 2013 | Nature | 496(7446):434
Gann, A, Witkowski, J

The lost correspondence of Francis Crick

2010 | Nature | 467(7315):519-524
Gann, Alexander, Witkowski, Jan

Jacob and Monod: from Operons to EvoDevo

14 Sep 2010 | Current Biology | 20(17):R718-23
Gann, A

What has phage lambda ever done for us?

May 2007 | Current Biology | 17(9):R305-R312
Murray, N, Gann, A

Imposing specificity on kinases

Feb 2003 | Science | 299(5609):1025-1027
Ptashne, M, Gann, A

Transcription initiation: imposing specificity by localization

2001 | Essays in Biochemistry | 37:1-15
Ptashne, M, Gann, A

Erratum: Imposing specificity by localization: Mechanism and evolvability: (Current Biology (1998) 8 (R812-822))

3 Dec 1998 | Current Biology | 8(24)
Ptashne, M, Gann, A

Imposing specificity by localization: mechanism and evolvability

5 Nov 1998 | Current Biology | 8(22):R812-22
Ptashne, M, Gann, A

See more publications