Graur Receives Distinguished Alumnus Award

Recognized at UT MD Anderson Cancer Center UTHealth Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences Commencement

Dan Graur, Moores Professor in the Department of Biology & Biochemistry at University of Houston, received the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center UTHealth Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences Distinguished Alumnus Award for 2018-2019. The award was presented at the GSBS Commencement Ceremony on May 18.

Dan Graur

Graur received his Ph.D. in population genetics from the graduate school in 1985; his advisor was Masatoshi Nei, Ph.D.

In introducing Graur, GSBS Dean Michelle Barton stated, “Dan remains a paradigm-setting pioneer in molecular evolution and one who is richly deserving of the title and award as 2019 Distinguished Alumnus.”

Before studying at the graduate school, Graur obtained a bachelor’s degree in biology and master’s degree in zoology from Tel Aviv University. After graduating from the GSBS, he did his postdoctoral studies at the Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen in Germany.

Graur’s research interests consist of computational, statistical, and analytical aspects of gene and genome evolution, in particular assessing the relative contributions of mutation, selection, and random genetic drift to the genetic makeup of organisms. He is also Professor Emeritus in the Department of Zoology at Tel Aviv University, Israel.

“I arrived in Houston on a proverbial ‘dark and stormy night’ in October 1980,” said Graur. “I was armed with the impertinence of youth and a master’s thesis on insect mating behavior. I left five years later armed with a great amount of information, a modicum of knowledge, a smidgen of wisdom, and all the necessary tools to start a career researching DNA evolution. I am forever thankful to my teachers at the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences for instilling in me clarity of thought, scientific independence, and ethical rigor.”

In remarks delivered at the commencement ceremony, Graur wished graduates of the 2019 class luck, prosperity, and courage, and added “I am relying on you, graduates, to cure whatever old-age afflictions are in store for me.”

- Excerpted from Graduate School for Biomedical Sciences news article by Tracey Barnett, GSBS Dean Barton’s introduction, and Dr. Graur’s commencement remarks