Stuart Brody


Studies on the biochemical genetics of Neurospora focuses on its circadian rhythms

This rhythm is visibly expressed in Neurospora as a spore-forming rhythm in a petri dish (see photo below). Areas of the culture showing the developmental phenomena of spore formation can be seen as "bands" on the surface of the agar. Mutations affecting the rhythm lead to different numbers of bands on a plate as seen in the cla-1 strain below. We are investigating the effects of several classes of mutations on the clock:

  1. analyzing the effects of mutants such as vivid (vvd) that affect the light response of the clock and lead to very short ( as low as 6 hrs.) periods in constant light;
  2. describing and analyzing the components of a second oscillator, the frq-less oscillator (FLO) in Neurospora, employing mutants such as csp-1 and rco-1 which affect downstream processes;
  3. using fluorescent tags to describe the synthesis and localization of key clock proteins , such as FRQ in vivo;
  4. understanding how the clock-controlled genes ( ccg) are regulated by the core oscillator.


  • Lakin-Thomas, P.L. and S. Brody (2000). Circadian rhythms in Neurospora crassa: Lipid deficiencies restore robust rhymicity to frq null and white-collar mutants. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 97:256-261.
  • Granshaw, T., Tsukamoto, M., and S. Brody. ( 2003). Circadian Rhythms in Neurospora crassa: Farnesol or geraniol allow expression of rhythmicity in the otherwise arrhythmic strains frq10, wc-1 and wc-2. J.Biol. Rhythms 18:287-296.
  • Lakin-Thomas, P.L. and S. Brody. ( 2004). Circadian Rhythms in Microorganisms: New Complexities. Ann. Review of Microbiol. 58:489-519.
  • Brody, S. ( 2005). Genetics and Kinetics. Fungal Genetics and Biology. 42:81-96.
  • Lombardi, L.M. and S. Brody (2005). Circadian Rhythms in Neurospora crassa: Clock gene homologues in fungi. Fungal Genetics and Biology. 42:887-892.
  • Lombardi, L.M., Schneider,K. and S. Brody (2007) Circadian Rhythms in Neurospora crassa: Clock mutant effects in the absence of a frq-based oscillator. Genetics 175:1175-1183.
  • Castro-Longoria, E., Brody,S. and S. Bartnicki-Garcia ( 2007) Kinetics of circadian band development in Neurospora crassa. Fungal Genetics and Biology 44:672-681.

Stu Brody joined the Department of Biology in 19767 as an Assistant Professor. He received his B.A. in Biology at MIT in 1959, Ph.D. at Stanford University in 1964, and did his post-doctoral research at the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research in New York City in the laboratory of the famous molecular geneticist and Nobel Prize Laureate Edward L. Tatum.

He thinks that coming to UCSD was one of the best decisions he made in his life. In 1967, the campus was still very new and had an exciting vibe of a startup and that stimulating feeling that anything was possible. This promise of great things to come and ability to leave a personal mark on the developing campus appealed to his sense of academic adventure. Besides, a unique location in beautiful La Jolla so close to the ocean and far away from the noise and crowds of big cities was a winning combination for growing an academic career and a family. His wife Barbara, a native Californian, was very supportive of making San Diego their home.

Stu moved into a lab in the Bonner Hall basement and started working on a few research projects in biochemical genetics, including experimental work on the mechanism of morphological mutations in Neurospora crassa. In 1980, he discovered that mitochondria had an acyl carrier protein and, in collaboration with E. Schweizer, researched the function of this protein. In 1972, his interest turned to the clocks in Neurospora, which became his favorite area of research, the results of which proved important for our understanding of the molecular mechanisms responsible for the functioning of the circadian rhythms. This study also involved mathematical modeling of circadian rhythms that led to developing new groundbreaking methods of research. After publishing several seminal papers on the subject (Science 1973, etc.), Stu organized (1976) a very successful and influential conference on circadian rhythms at UCSD. In 2009, he founded the Center for Circadian Biology at UCSD. Today, the Center has grown into a very successful Organized Research Unit on campus with an impressive roster of members -- and Stu remains very active and involved as the Founding Director and member of the Executive Committee.

His interest in science started early on in his formative years – he grew up in the home where intellectual pursuit was valued and encouraged. He was surrounded by scientific magazines and papers on physics that his older brother, a physics student at MIT, was reading and often discussing with Stu. Physics was really a ‘hot’ subject in early 50’s, but Stu’s imagination was captivated by living things that surrounded him. He wanted to know why the leaves on the trees are changing colors in autumn, why a maple leaf emerges from a bud looking exactly like a maple leaf – Stu though that that was really amazing and much more exciting than physics. And then one major discovery changed the whole field of biology: in 1952, Watson and Crick came out with the model of DNA, moving biology to the molecular level and changing it from a purely descriptive to an experimental science. Soon Stu followed his brother to MIT, but he chose biology as his major.

Stu brought this awe of nature and intellectual curiosity to his teaching. For 43 years, he was teaching Genetics during Spring Quarter to up to 400 students and his course had always been considered one of the most intensive, rigorous, and challenging biology courses for upper division undergraduates. But it was also one of the most inspiring and decisive in guiding students towards their future specialization. When the School of Medicine first opened, he was teaching Medical Genetics, and Biochem lab for the first three years (1968-1971) as part of the Bonner Plan – ‘the science should be taught by scientists.’ After that, he started (1974) and then taught the Microbiology Lab course for over 30 years. Another first at UCSD was the Chronobiology course, which he personally initiated and co-organized in 2004. Stu approached his teaching with a sense of responsibility for training and inspiring new generations of scientists. Having been in science for over 50 years, Stu believes that a future scientist has to be very analytical and focused, well-trained in basics, have good dexterity to carry out experimental studies, be organized and keep good notes, and, most important, have a high anxiety tolerance to be able to work on projects for years without any assurance that this research is going to give positive results.

Over the years, Stu also showed great interest in the growth of the young campus and participated in the campus life with joyful enthusiasm and dedication. He maintained connections – and at times scientific collaborations -- with colleagues across the campus and served on numerous departmental and campus committees, including the Academic Senate, investing an enormous amount of time and effort in the betterment of the campus intellectual and physical environment. His thoughtful and balanced opinion often made him a decisive voice in shaping important decisions. Stu is genuinely proud of the university’s quick rise from a small new campus that started from scratch to a world-class institution that commands respect and admiration from colleagues in various fields of knowledge, and which facilitated the growth of biotech industry and successful startup companies that put San Diego on the map of the region. His contributions over the years were not limited to advice and council – he donated funds to support basic research, student fellowships, campus fundraising campaigns and other causes he felt passionate about. Like in 1998, when he became aware of the terminal illness of the beloved biology Professor Paul Saltman. He spearheaded a group of campus colleagues who overcame a number of bureaucratic hurdles and raised the funds to establish the Paul D. Saltman Endowed Chair in Science Education. The Endowed Chair announcement was made at a ceremony at the Faculty Club with unprecedented 350 people in attendance and, at the end, Paul Saltman, who could barely stand, delivered a short speech. He was talking about learning and love – and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house when he finished. Paul Saltman died three months later…

That was Stu’s way of showing his sincere appreciation for his colleagues and his personal commitment to the golden standards of human values.

Stu retired in 2010, but his inquiring mind leads him further on in his quest for scientific answers. Currently he is fully immersed in his next research project that could bring him closer to unraveling the mystery of biological clocks inside the living organisms. That gives him that very special thrill of the constant pursuit of the new scientific knowledge, which he unassumingly calls ‘curiosity’.