Department of Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology and the College
David Pincus studies how cells sense stress, with a focus on protein misfolding, which is a common consequence of many stresses at the molecular level. In particular, an increase in temperature, called a “heat shock,” causes cells to induce expression of molecular “chaperones” that help proteins fold and prevent aggregation. Pincus studies how the master regulator of the chaperones—known as HSF1, or heat shock factor—senses protein misfolding and controls the level of chaperones according to the need to maintain proteostasis. By understanding how HSF1 works to maintain proteostasis, he aims to uncover the underlying mechanisms that contribute to diseases of aging. He also studies other stress response pathways that are mediated by kinase signaling and has used co-evolution analysis to understand the deep allosteric wiring of the kinase domain.
His research has been, or will soon be, published in Molecular Biology of the Cell, Science Signaling, Cell Reports, Cell Systems, eLife, and Molecular Cell. He is the recipient of a National Institutes of Health Director’s Early Independence Award, among other honors.
Pincus, who is also affiliated with the University’s Center for Physics of Evolving Systems, holds a PhD in cell biology from the University of California, San Francisco. Most recently, he was a Whitehead Fellow at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research.