Partial Curriculum Vitae
Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology
University of Colorado
Boulder, CO 80309-0347
Telephone 303-735-1864, Fax 303-492-7744
1964 B.A. (Honors), Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana
1967 Ph.D., University of Illinois, Urbana, Illinois
1967-69 Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Illinois, Urbana, Illinois
Professional Societies and Some Activities
Current Research Activities
Research interests revolve about the synthesis, structure and function of RNA; and the application of
molecular biological tools to problems in environmental microbial biology.
One effort of the laboratory has been the study of Ribonuclease P, an RNA processing enzyme
responsible for removing the 5' termini of tRNA precursors during their maturation. This is a particularly interesting
enzyme because the catalytic element is itself RNA; RNase P is a ribozyme. Studies have included determination
of the molecular structure of RNase P RNA, the nature of its interaction with tRNA precursors and other
substrates, and the mechanism of the RNA-catalyzed reaction.
A second emphasis of the laboratory has been on development and use of molecular methods for
analysis of phylogenetic and quantitative aspects of natural microbial communities without the requirement for
laboratory cultivation. This is an important direction because only a few environmental microorganisms are
cultured using standard techniques. Consequently, before the molecular developments, there was little access to
the natural microbial world. The application of molecular technologies such as sequencing ribosomal RNA
(rRNA) genes for phylogenetic analyses and the use of rRNA-based hybridization probes for in situ identification
of microbes have revolutionized microbial ecology. Investigations have been broadly directed, for instance toward
high-temperature environments, unusual symbioses, little-known (at the time) microbial ecosystems such as
endolithic communities and marine picoplankton, environmental bioremediation, selected human diseases and
the indoor environment all around us. Collectively, molecular results from this laboratory and others have
dramatically revised our understanding of microbial diversity.
For years, Dr. Pace has argued that the misleading term "prokarya" should be dropped from biology since it defines organisms by what do not have (nuclei). The correct terms are bacteria and archaea. Dr. Pace wrote an essay for Nature describing the anti-prokaryote argument:
NR. (2006) Time for a change.Nature. 441(7091):289.
Also see his Abbott-ASM Lifetime Achievement Award presentation:
Summer 2010: Postdocs Dan Frank and Piret Koll are leaving us. Dan is now an Assistant Professor at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, and Piret will be returning to dental practice and research in Estonia.
Thank you for joining us in celebrating 25 years of microbial diversity, 40 years of RNA research and 65 years of Norm Pace! It was great to see everyone here to celebrate Norm's amazing accomplishments! Click this link to see photos from the symposium and watch Norm's keynote address.
The Pace lab is located in the department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology (MCDB) in the Gold Biosciences Building on the CU flagship campus in Boulder, CO. CU-Boulder is home to 11 Nobel Laureates, 9 MacArthur Fellows (including Dr. Pace!), 33 members of the National Academies, and nearly 30,000 students.
Our lab is located in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, in Boulder, Colorado. Boulder is a great city for academics with the University of Colorado, NCAR, NOAA, NIST, and a strong biotechnology industry. It is also a great place to live because of the fabulous weather, outdoor activities galore, a lively music scene and nightlife, and good dining.