Dr. Eggan completed his bachelor’s degree in microbiology at the University of Illinois in 1996. A two-year Predoctoral internship at Amgen at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda solidified his desire to pursue a career in academic research. He enrolled at the graduate school of Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1998 shortly after the cloning of Dolly the Sheep was reported in Scotland. During his Ph.D. training, he actively pursued projects focused on cloning, stem cells and reprogramming after nuclear transfer under the guidance of genetics pioneer, Dr. Rudolf Jaenisch. He stayed in the Dr. Jaenisch’s lab after his graduation for a one-year postdoc training in 2002. During that time, he conducted a collaborative study with Dr. Richard Axel, a Nobel Prize winner at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. In 2003, he moved to Harvard University as a junior fellow and then became an assistant professor of Molecular & Cellular Biology at the Stem Cell Institute in 2005.
As a young investigator in the burgeoning field of stem cell biology, Dr. Eggan has garnered international recognition for his seminal work and a number of high profile awards for his creativity and productivity, including the MacArthur Foundation “Genius Grant” in 2006. His current research focuses on applying the knowledge gained in stem cell biology to studying the mechanisms underlying amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and discovering new therapeutic targets. He made a significant impact in the field by publishing two high profile papers in Cell Stem Cell and Science in 2008. One paper described the discovery that motor neurons derived from human embryonic stem cells are susceptible to the toxic effect of glial cells harboring an ALS mutation while the other shows that induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells generated from adult skin cells of ALS patients can be differentiated into motor neurons. In 2009, he was selected as one of 50 Howard Hughes Medical Institute Early Career Scientists who will receive six years of dedicated support to conduct transformative research. He will use this support to advance the use of both human embryonic stem cells and iPS cells in the study of ALS study and the development of new treatments.