Professor David Moore was appointed Professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences and Toxicology at the University of California Berkeley in 2020. He studies the diverse functions of nuclear hormone receptors, with a particular focus on their roles in normal and diseased liver and gut. In our interview, he tells us more about his research and his proudest achievements, so far.
Tell us a little about your career path so far
I started my lab at Massachusetts General Hospital and the Harvard Medical School in 1981, then in 1997 I moved to Baylor College of Medicine in Houston TX. I have recently moved to become Professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences and Toxicology at UC Berkeley, where my research will be focused on the role of nuclear receptors in metabolism and metabolic disease. Since my younger brother has already retired twice, the wisdom of starting a new lab may be questionable, but I am still excited by the prospect. Our studies will continue to investigate the regulation of basic metabolism, dysregulation in metabolic syndrome and diabetes, as well as the impact of nuclear receptors in hepatocellular carcinoma, cholestasis, fibrosis and inflammatory bowel diseases.
I’ve always been interested in gene regulation and came to endocrinology because it provides great systems for studying this central process. This is particularly true for the nuclear hormone receptors that have been the focus of my entire career.
Who were you most inspired by?
There are a number of really great scientists in the nuclear receptor field who have set a very high bar. In a bit earlier generation this includes Bert O’Malley and Pierre Chambon. Closer to my age the list is longer but includes Mitch Lazar, Ron Evans, David Mangelsdorf and Steve Kliewer, and Holly Ingraham. I am happy to consider all of them friends, and apologies to many other friends and colleagues who also deserve mention.
What are you proudest of in your career, so far?
As a personal achievement, I was proud to be elected to the US National Academy of Sciences. As a scientific accomplishment, the fact that our early efforts in the orphan field, along with those of others, led to the discovery of all 48 members of the nuclear receptor superfamily before the human genome sequence was completed, is a great accomplishment. On the other hand, it could be argued that if we had just waited they would have been handed to us on a platter!
How much has your field changed since you started out?
This is an easy question – the explosion of “omics” tools. The human genome is the most obvious example, but there has been a fundamental transition of experimental focus from gene-by-gene or protein-by-protein to the whole system level.
Being able to follow ideas where they lead to yield new insights.
What will you be presenting in your lecture at SfE BES 2021?
I’ll be discussing our latest research on how the liver manages its resources in the presence and absence of food.
Any words of wisdom for aspiring endocrinologists?
Follow your dreams and visions. Pursue the questions that you find the most intriguing, not those that someone else says are more practical!
You can attend Professor David Moore’s Medal Lecture, “Feast and Famine: Nuclear Receptor Control of Liver Energy Balance” on Tuesday 9 November at 08:30 GMT.
Find out more about the scientific programme for SfE BES 2021.