Skip to main content

National Institutes of Health

Text Size: sML

Meet the Director

Photo: Dr. James BatteyDr. James F. Battey, Jr., received his undergraduate education at the California Institute of Technology, where he earned his B.S. with honors in physics. He earned his M.D. and Ph.D. (biophysics) degrees from Stanford University, where he also received residency training in pediatrics. His postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard Medical School was under the direction of the eminent scientist Dr. Philip Leder. While working with Dr. Leder, Dr. Battey was part of a team that cloned the genes encoding the IgE immunoglobulin constant region domains. In addition, he isolated and characterized the human c-myc gene, a key growth regulatory nuclear proto-oncogene that contributes to cancer formation when inappropriately expressed.

Dr. Battey is widely recognized for his work on G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs), a large family of proteins important in cell-to-cell communication, and integral to an array of physiological processes, including taste and smell, vision, immune response, and the transmission of messages between nerve cells. Much of his research has focused on mammalian bombesin receptors—GPCRs that mediate such processes as hormone release, smooth muscle contraction, and cell division—and he has collaborated on a large-scale project to identify molecules that are important for taste.

Dr. Battey began his tenure with NIH in 1983, first on the staff of the National Cancer Institute (NCI), where he rose from senior staff fellow to senior investigator. In his work at the NCI-Navy Medical Oncology Branch, he collaborated in the isolation and characterization of human N-myc and L-myc, two additional members of the human myc gene family, important in human neoplasms. He became interested in neuropeptides and their receptors at this time because of their dual function as growth factors and regulatory peptides. His group isolated cDNA and genomic clones for mammalian bombesin-like peptides, key regulators of secretion, growth, and neuronal firing.

In 1988, he moved to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke as chief of the molecular neuroscience section in the Laboratory of Neurochemistry. In 1992, he returned to the NCI to head the molecular structure section of the Laboratory of Biological Chemistry, where his laboratory cloned and characterized the genes for 3 three subtypes of mammalian receptors for bombesin-like peptides. His team at NCI's Laboratory of Biological Chemistry was among the first to clone the gene encoding cdk5, a member of the cyclin-dependent kinase family, where important proteins are involved in cell cycle control.

The U.S. Public Health Service has honored Dr. Battey with its PHS Commendation Medal in 1990 and the Outstanding Service Medal in 1994. He is author or co-author of more than 130 research articles and is co-author of the popular laboratory manual titled Basic Methods in Molecular Biology.

Dr. Battey was appointed director of the Intramural Research Program for NIDCD in 1995. He has served as the director of NIDCD since 1998.

Dr. Battey also is a co-chair of these two NIH scientific groups: