Leonid Kruglyak ’87 (UCLA)
Leonid Kruglyak ’87 (UCLA)
When PAW’s pages last featured Leonid Kruglyak ’87, the Princeton ecology and evolutionary biology professor had developed a new way to understand the genetic basis of complex traits influenced by multiple genes. This method, published in Nature, examined chemical resistance and mitochondrial function in a study of millions of yeast cells.

Five years later, Kruglyak is being honored for his contributions to the fields of genetics and genomics. Now a professor of human genetics and biological chemistry at UCLA, Kruglyak will receive the Curt Stern Award from the American Society of Human Genetics Oct. 9, which recognizes outstanding scientific achievements in human genetics.

His UCLA lab currently conducts experiments aimed at understanding how changes at the level of DNA are shaped by molecular and evolutionary forces and how those changes lead to the observable differences among individuals within a species.

Kruglyak told The New York Times in 2012 that geneticists had long recognized that mutations could “throw sand in the gears of the brain” and that complex traits arose in complicated ways.

“Talking about a ‘a gene for a trait’ is a shorthand at best,” he said, “and a well-known fallacy at worst.”