William L. Steinhart

Affiliation: Biology
Linnean Professor of Biology Emeritus

PREVIOUS RESEARCH POSITIONS:   U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases and The Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, Hershey.

TEACHING AREAS:    Genetics and molecular biology, human genetics, virology

RESEARCH PROJECTS:   My current research projects focus on two areas: molecular genetics of plant development and human genetic disorders involving triplet nucleotide expansions. In the former case, my students and I are looking at the changing pattern of gene expression that occurs as orchids develop from an embryonic protocorm stage to plantlets with leaves and roots. Our goal is to learn about the specific gene functions that are involved in the process of shoot differentiation. We are characterizing new messenger RNA molecules and proteins that appear as shoots begin to form in developing protocorms. In addition, we continue to examine recently-developed gene expression vectors to assess their applicability to studies of expression in orchids.

In the second area of research, we are collaborating with Visiting Scholars Ada and Don Olins to determine mechanisms of chromatin condensation and gene silencing associated with various triplet nucleotide repeat alleles of the human FMR1 gene. Silencing of the FMR1 gene causes Fragile X Syndrome, the most common heritable cause of mental disability in humans.

OTHER INTERESTS:  whippets (Titania and Oberon), gardening, orchid culture, musical performance (oboe and English horn)

Steinhart's dogs
William Steinhart headshot


  • PhD, Biochemistry, Johns Hopkins University, 1968
  • AB, Chemistry, University of Pennsylvania, 1964