Greg Lemke received a bachelor’s degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology, where he worked with Jeremy Brockes. He conducted postdoctoral research in Richard Axel’s laboratory at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. He joined the faculty at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in 1985. In addition to the Rita Allen Foundation award, Lemke has received a Pew Scholars Award, a Basil O’Connor Starter Scholar Award from the March of Dimes and a Javits Neuroscience Investigator (Merit) Award from the National Institutes of Health. He served as editor-in-chief of Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience from 1995 to 2005. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
The Lemke laboratory has made significant contributions to understanding intercellular communication, specifically with respect to the role that receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) play in embryonic development and adult physiology. The lab first identified 11 of the 58 RTKs encoded in mammalian genomes, discovering the TAM and DDR RTK families, as well as new members of the ErbB, FGF and Eph families. Together with collaborators, they identified the ligands that activate DDR and TAM receptors. The Lemke group’s generation and analysis of mouse mutants for ErbB4, a receptor for neuregulin-1 (a ligand that Lemke puried as a graduate student at Caltech), revealed essential roles for neuregulin/ErbB signaling in cardiac myocyte morphogenesis and nervous system development. Their systematic genetic alteration of EphA receptor gradients in the retina provided a definitive genetic test of the role that these gradients play in the topographic wiring of neuronal connections during brain development. They formulated and then tested a quantitative theory for this gradient-driven process. Their most influential contributions derive from the study of the TAM receptors and their ligands.