Testimonials for Pioneer Member Mary-Dell Chilton

Stanton Gelvin – Thank you for your support and guidance throughout my career. You helped me learn about the wonders of Agrobacterium.

Qiudeng Que – I had the privilege of working closely with Mary-Dell on and off for more than 20 years. Mary-Dell has had a tremendous impact on me, in both how to do rigorous science and to collaborate with colleagues. After doing my post-doc studying transgene silencing in Petunia, I was recruited by Mary-Dell to join her team in Novartis at that time to work on the development of new transformation technologies including targeted insertion technology. The company later became Syngenta. I have benefited so much from her over the years. Mary-Dell was a great mentor and role model for me and many of my colleagues. I have asked her suggestions on many occasions and had a lot of discussion with her on different experiment ideas. I learned a lot from her about Agrobacterium and crown galls. Mary-Dell taught me the importance of good experiment design and being an unbiased and curious scientist. For example, when we were studying the effect of homology arm length on targeted insertion mediated by homologous recombination, we recovered some “unexpected” kanamycin resistant events in control experiments using a donor with no homology arms. Usually, people might just dismiss such events as transformation escapes. However, she was so excited about these “unexpected” events and went ahead to do careful molecular analysis. This study led to the development of a novel NHEJ-based approach of doing targeted insertion.