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Thomas W. O’Brien

Thomas W. O’Brien

University of Florida


Professor O'Brien earned his Ph.D. in physiology and biochemistry at Marquette University in 1964 for his work on the thyroid hormone control of mitochondrial content in mammals. He discovered mitochondrial ribosomes as a Postdoctoral Fellow working with Dr. G.F. Kalf. Dr. O'Brien joined the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Florida in 1966, and has continued studies to characterize mammalian mitochondrial ribosomes. The discovery of ribosomes in mitochondria in Dr. O'Brien's laboratory foreshadowed the surprising diversity of ribosome types in nature. He was a NATO Senior Science Fellow, a European Molecular Biology Organization Research Fellow, a Visiting Scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics, Berlin, Germany, and a Visiting Scientist at the University of California Santa Cruz. From 1980 to 1982 he was Interim Chairman of the Department. He was founding co-Director of the Interdisciplinary Center for Biotechnology Research at the University of Florida and he is a member of the Center for Mammalian Genetics and the Center for Structural Biology.

Research Interest

Discovery of ribosomes in mitochondria