Boston College names Thomas Chiles the Deluca Professor of Biology

February 28th, 2012
Thomas Chiles has been named DeLuca Professor of Biology at Boston College. Chiles joined the university in 1992 and his research into lymphocyte metabolism and cancer biology is funded by the National Cancer Institute, the National Institutes of Health and private foundations. Credit: Lee Pellegrini/Boston College
Boston College Biology Department Chairman Thomas Chiles has been named the Dr. Michael E. and Dr. Salvatore A. DeLuca Professor of Biology, the university announced today.

Chiles, whose research into lymphocyte metabolism and cancer biology is funded by the National Cancer Institute, the National Institutes of Health and private foundations, said he was honored to receive the endowed professorship, which will support his ongoing research, particularly projects involving undergraduates.

"It is a privilege and an honor to be named the DeLuca Professor of Biology," said Chiles, who joined the BC faculty in 1992. "I'm grateful to the University and the DeLuca family for their ongoing support of my lab's work and the advancement of the biological sciences here at BC."

Chiles' research focuses on understanding how a subset of lymphocytes, also known as B cells, grow and survive. The white blood cells play a critical role in the infectious disease-fighting ability of the immune system. Chiles' research has focused on how B cells respond to their environment in order to produce antibodies and regulatory cytokines and are able to adapt to survive while fighting pathogens and infectious agents.

That research led Chiles into an area known as metabolomics to study how the B cell's metabolism changes in response to external cues such as pathogens in order to support its radical transformation to an antibody producing plasma cell. In collaboration with Chemistry Professor Mary Roberts, the research is also providing insight into how energy metabolism is altered in cancer cells to support their growth and survival.

Chiles is also part of a multi-disciplinary team of campus scientists developing the next generation of nanosensors capable of detecting minute amounts of cancer biomarkers that signal the presence of disease. Developed in collaboration with Biology Research Professor Dong Cai and Physics Professor Mike Naughton the biosensor could prove to be a valuable new diagnostic tool for the early detection of cancer.

The DeLuca professorship was established in 1996 through an endowment from Dr. Salvatore A. and Lucy DeLuca to honor the memory of their son, Michael, a 1986 BC graduate who died in 1991. BC Biology Prof. Marc A.T. Muskavitch was the inaugural holder of the chair.

David Quigley, dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, said the selection of Chiles to hold the DeLuca Professorship was fitting recognition of Chiles' work as a researcher, teacher, mentor and administrator.

"I can't think of a colleague more deserving of this honor than Thomas Chiles," said Quigley. "In his 20 years at Boston College, Thomas has devoted himself to his students and to the Biology Department. His committed leadership has been instrumental in the considerable progress we've been making in the natural sciences in recent years."

An avid runner, Chiles participates in at least one marathon a year, typically alternating between the New York City and Chicago marathons. He cites art and music as areas of interest outside of science. He and his wife, Sheryl, live in Norfolk with their three Portuguese water dogs.

A native Floridian who earned his doctorate from the College of Medicine at the University of Florida, Chiles grew up in Jacksonville's Northside neighborhood. He credited his high school advanced biology teacher, Clayton Linstram, with fueling his interest in studying biology at Florida. In Gainesville, professors Joseph Powell and Michael Kilberg added further support, he said.

"I've always been real curious about everything, but especially science," said Chiles. "There was a pilot light there and it caught and turned into a full blown furnace when I arrived on the University of Florida campus and I never looked back."

Provided by Boston College

This Phys.org Science News Wire page contains a press release issued by an organization mentioned above and is provided to you “as is” with little or no review from Phys.Org staff.

More news stories

Cellular memory of stressful situations

Stress is unhealthy. The cells use therefore a variety of mechanisms to deal with stress and avert its immediate threat. However, certain stressful situations leave marks that go beyond the immediate response; ...

The adaptability of pathogens

Drug-resistant HIV viruses can spread rapidly. This is the conclusion of a study conducted as part of the SWISS HIV Cohort Study, which is supported by the SNSF. Only the continuous introduction of new drugs can stop the ...

New tattoos discovered on Oetzi mummy

With the aid of a non-invasive photographic technique, researchers at the EURAC-Institute for Mummies and the Iceman have been able to show up all the tattoos on the man who was found preserved in a glacier, ...

Modular disability aids for world's poorest

Brunel University London design engineering student Cara O'Sullivan's final year project aims to help developing countries make their own disability aids using modular components.

Particle physicists discuss JUNO neutrino experiment

The construction of the facilities for the JUNO neutrino experiment has been initiated with an official groundbreaking ceremony near the south Chinese city of Jiangmen. Involved in the Jiangmen Underground ...

Study identifies common elements of STEM schools

Science, technology, engineering and mathematics schools vary in many ways, but they share eight major common elements. So finds a nationwide study of 23 STEM schools conducted by the University of Chicago's Outlier Research ...