Dr. Vytas A. Bankaitis
B.S. – Edinboro University, Edinboro,
Pennsylvania, 1978, Biology
M.S. – Clemson University, Clemson,
South Carolina, 1980, Microbiology
Ph.D. – University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill,
North Carolina, 1984, Microbiology
Postdoctoral – California Institute of Technology,
Pasadena, California, 1984-1986, Cell & Molecular Biology
“We are interested in the mechanisms by which cells convert their membrane surfaces into high definition signaling screens. We focus on lipid signaling in that regard, and deploy diverse approaches and experimental models to address the key questions. We employ genetic, cell biological biochemical, biophysical, structural, and computational approaches, and our model experimental systems currently include yeast, mice and the obligate eukaryotic parasite Toxoplasma. “
Medical Genetics- Human and Animal
Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Genetics
How long have you been a faculty member at Texas A&M?
I was recruited to TAMU in the Fall of 2012 so that makes it about 7.5 years.
What made you choose to join the A&M faculty?
My recruitment from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine came with the endowed Wehner-Welch Chair. This was critical as it provides my laboratory with the freedom to pursue new scientific directions that we find interesting and exciting. That support launched our very productive research efforts in mammalian neural stem cell biology (i.e. autism), in cancer biology, and in development of novel inhibitors that are promising lead compounds for next-generation anti-fungal drugs.
How have your experiences in the Genetics graduate program shaped your thinking?
I have a number of great colleagues in the Genetics program and I am always learning from them. In some cases, these lessons come from collaborative projects we do together that employ our complementary strengths. In other cases, I am introduced to questions/issues involving population genetics – particularly as these relate to our mouse studies in neurodegeneration, brain development and cancer biology. I remain a student and they make it fun to be one.
When I am not in the lab, I am…
Biking, swimming, fishing with my colleague David Threadgill in Alaska or off Cape Hatteras North Carolina, traveling, golfing, or hiking.
My favorite restaurant in College Station is?
1775. Bring me the moist brisket and ribs and invite the women and children to turn their eyes away from the spectacle that ensues…
What is the most gratifying aspect about mentoring graduate students?
To see the hard work of talented and committed students pay off in career success is the greatest reward. I am very fortunate to have had many outstanding students and postdocs come through my lab. They have carved out really impressive careers across the USA and the world in academia, biotech, patent law and scientific publishing over the years. It is a lot of fun to get together with them and reminisce about the old times…
Who is your famous role model?
Richard Feynman. As one who spent time at CalTech it has to be Feynman.
Do you have any pet peeves?
I really detest having my time wasted with nonproductive c#%p.
Do you have any hidden talents?
I am a reasonable cook when I have to be, and I was an 8-time All-American and conference champion swimmer in college.