BAR HARBOR — Professor Davor Solter received the 2022 Mendel Medal from the British Genetics Society. The medal is named for Gregor Mendel, known for his early genetics research on heredity in pea plants. The ceremony this year in Wisley Garden, England, also honored Mendel’s 200th birthday. Solter and his spouse, former Jackson Lab researcher Dr. Barbara Knowles, have a home in Bar Harbor.
Solter and Professor Azim Surani were jointly awarded the honor for their discovery of genomic imprinting. Receiving copied genes from each parent is protective – a defect in a gene from one parent may be overridden by a normal, dominant gene from the other. “If one copy is dysfunctional,” says Solter, “you still have the other one.”
Their work showed that it is possible for one of two donated genes to be inactive. If the sole, active gene is defective there is nothing to keep it from being expressed as disease or dysfunction. This has led to a greater understanding of human developmental disorders.
Solter taught at the University of Zagreb medical school in Croatia and was a professor at the Wistar Institute in Philadelphia. In 1991, he was appointed to the Max Planck Institute and became director of their Institute of Immunobiology. He was a research director at an institute in Singapore, a professor at the Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School and is a visiting professor at the Mahidol University Medical School in Bangkok.