Vice Dean of Medicine for Research
Chair & Professor, Department of Genetics
Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering
Dr. Magnuson was the founding chair of the highly ranked Department of Genetics and Director of the newly established Carolina Center for Genome Sciences at UNC Chapel Hill. He also created the Cancer Genetics Program in the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. He was appointed Vice Dean for Research at the School of Medicine in 2010, and in 2016 he was named Vice Chancellor for Research. A founding member of the International Mammalian Genome Society, Dr. Magnuson served on the external advisory committee for the Jackson Laboratory Mouse Genome Database and was Chair of the Jackson Laboratory Board of Scientific Overseers. He has served on the Board of Directors of the Society for Developmental Biology, the Genetics Society of America, and he was a Board Member of the publically traded CRO Company, PPD. He was appointed by the National Academies to establish guidelines for work with human embryonic stem cells, and also served as vice chair of an Institute of Medicine (now National Academy of Medicine) committee evaluating the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine. He then served as a member of the National Academy of Medicine’s (NAM) committee reviewing the NIH Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee, and also was a member on the NAM committee assessing the state of ovarian cancer research. Currently, he is a member of the NIH stem cell working group, the NIH Council of Councils, the NIH Precision Medicine Advisory Committee, and the National Academies forum on regenerative Medicine. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a fellow of the AAAS, and to the National Academy of Medicine. He served on the International Selection Committee for the Franklin Institute’s Bower Prize in Genomics and is a Senior Editor for Genetics and a member of the Board of Reviewing Editors for Science Signaling. He has trained 35 postdoctoral fellows and 16 graduate students. He was recognized twice as the outstanding graduate student mentor by vote of the graduate students.
Dr. Magnuson was a Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences, the recipient of the Basil O’Connor new investigator award from the March of Dimes, and also received the distinguished Alumnus Award from the Weill Cornell University Graduate School of Medical Sciences. The work in the Magnuson lab focuses on the role of mammalian genes in unique epigenetic phenomena such as genomic imprinting, X-chromosome inactivation and stem cell pluripotency. His lab discovered the mammalian Eed gene, a core subunit of the PRC2 complex, and was the first to demonstrate its role in X-inactivation, and therefore, mammalian epigenetic inheritance. His work stands out as definitive evidence for a Polycomb role in epigenetic regulation. This work was followed by a series of publications leading to the concept of Xist independent or backup mechanism for X chromosome inactivation, which is now becoming an accepted concept. His lab was a leader in demonstrating demethylase independent function for the histone H3K27 demethylase complexes. The lab also has made important contributions towards understanding the genomic complexity and dynamics of chromatin remodeling complexes.