ISAAC MORRIS AND LUCILLE ELIZABETH HAY PROFESSORSHIP IN EMBRYOLOGY
Established in 2009 with a commitment made in 1996 by Elizabeth D. Hay in memory of her parents

ISAAC MORRIS HAY, a general practitioner, established the first and only hospital in Melbourne, Florida, in 1929.

 

His wife, LUCILLE ELIZABETH HAY, assisted with administrative and caretaker duties in addition to raising three children. The private hospital weathered the Great Depression and eventually obtained much-needed outside support when it became the Brevard County Hospital.

 

ELIZABETH D. HAY, Med 1952, was the Louise Foote Pfeiffer Professor of Embryology at Harvard Medical School. She decided to honor her parents with the creation of a professorship at her alma mater. She and her twin brother were only two years old when her parents opened the Melbourne hospital.

Dr. Hay developed an interest in biological research while an undergraduate at Smith College and determined to pursue a career in academic medicine. After earning her MD, she served on the Hopkins faculty in Anatomy for four years, leaving for Cornell Medical College to join Don Fawcett, an eminent figure in the newly emerging field of cell biology. She moved with him to Harvard, where she was the first to demonstrate that cells depend on the extracellular matrix not just for support but also for communication--an innovative discovery that in the 1970s was considered heretical, but now is well accepted. She succeeded Dr. Fawcett as chair of the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology at Harvard in 1975, stepping down in 1993 to concentrate full time on teaching and research. Dr. Hay, who died in 2007, was active in many scientific societies and served as editor of Cell Biology of Extracellular Matrix, a definitive text.

 

PETER N. DEVREOTES, A&S 1977 (PhD), Isaac Morris Hay and Lucille Elizabeth Hay Professor and director of the Department of Cell Biology, received his PhD from Hopkins in 1977 and returned to join the Hopkins faculty in 1980 in the Department of Biological Chemistry. He is recognized internationally as the leader in the field of chemotaxis. He was the first to identify chemoattractant receptors and visualize their activation in living cells. His discovery that selected signaling events occur at the cell’s leading edge unveiled a strategy that cells use to sense the direction of spatial gradients. His group is currently pursuing further understanding of chemotaxis. Using the amoeba Dictyostelium as a model system, Dr. Devreotes’ research focuses on identifying the genes responsible for a cell’s "sense of direction." During embryogenesis and in the adult, cells use chemical gradients to direct their movements to find and maintain their proper positions. The process, referred to as chemotaxis, is not only used in normal physiology but in inflammatory diseases and cancer metastasis.

Dr. Devreotes was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2005 for his research achievements and also won a National Institutes of Health Merit Award that same year. He has been an elected council member of the American Society for Cell Biology and associate editor for Molecular Biology of the Cell and he currently serves on the advisory boards of the Cell Migration Consortium and the Searle Scholar Program.