Olson Laboratory

UTSW Moleculare Biology




Eric N. Olson, Ph.D.

Professor and Chairman of Molecular Biology

University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas


Eric Olson is the founding chair of the Department of Molecular Biology at UT Southwestern Medical Center. He also directs the Hamon Center for Regenerative Science and Medicine and the Wellstone Center for Muscular Dystrophy Research. He holds the Annie and Willie Nelson Professorship in Stem Cell Research, the Robert A. Welch Distinguished Chair, and the Pogue Distinguished Chair.


Eric Olson and his trainees discovered many of the genes that control heart and muscle development and disease. His most recent work has provided a new strategy for correction of Duchenne muscular dystrophy using CRISPR gene editing. Olsonís discoveries at the interface of developmental biology and medicine have illuminated the fundamental principles of organ formation and have provided new concepts in the quest for muscle and cardiovascular therapeutics. His laboratory published over 600 scientific articles that have been cited over 85,000 times in the scientific literature.


Olson is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has co-founded multiple biotechnology companies to develop new therapies for heart and muscle disease. Most recently, he founded Exonics Therapeutics, which is working to correct Duchenne muscular dystrophy using CRISPR gene editing. In his spare time, he plays guitar and harmonica with The Transactivators, a rock band inspired by Willie Nelson, the Texas troubadour who created the Professorship that supports his research.




  • 1973-1977 B.A., Chemistry and Biology, Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, NC
  • 1977-1981 Ph.D., Biochemistry, Bowman Gray School of Medicine, Wake Forest University
  • 2003 Honorary Doctorate, Wake Forest University


  • 1981-1983 Postdoctoral Fellow (with Dr. Luis Glaser), Dept. of Biological Chemistry, Washington University School of Medicine
  • 1984 Assistant Professor, Dept. of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center
  • 1989 Associate Professor, Dept. of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center
  • 1991 Professor and Chairman, Dept. of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center
  • 1991-1995 Robert A. Welch Professor in Chemistry
  • 1995-present Professor and Chairman, Department of Molecular Biology, U.T. Southwestern Medical Center
  • Director, Hamon Center for Basic Cancer Research
  • 1995 Nancy B. and Jake L. Hamon Distinguished Chair
  • 1999-present Associate Director, D.W. Reynolds Center of Cardiovascular Medicine
  • 2001 Robert A. Welch Distinguished Professor
  • 2005 Annie and Willie Nelson Professor in Stem Cell Biology
  • 2006 Pogue Distinguished Chair in Research on Cardiac Birth Defects

    Selected Honors:

  • 1998 Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences
  • 1998 Edgar Haber Cardiovascular Medicine Research Award, American Heart Association
  • 1999 American Heart Association Basic Research Prize
  • 1999 Gill Heart Institute Award for Outstanding Contributions to Cardiovascular Medicine
  • 1999 Elected to U.S. National Academy of Sciences
  • 2000 Pasarow Foundation Award in Cardiovascular Medicine
  • 2000 NIH, MERIT Award
  • 2001 Elected to the Institute of Medicine of National Academy of Sciences
  • 2001 Bristol-Myers Squibb "Freedom to Discover" Unrestricted Research Award
  • 2003 Founding Distinguished Scientist Award, American Heart Association
  • 2003 Louis and Artur Lucian Award for Research in Cardiovascular Diseases, McGill University
  • 2005 Outstanding Investigator Award, International Society for Heart Research (ISHR)
  • 2005 Pollin Prize in Pediatric Research, Columbia University
  • 2008 American Heart Association Research Achievement Award
  • 2009 LeFoulon Delalande Grand Prix Awarded by the Institut de France and French Academy of Science
  • 2009 Charles Butcher Award in Genomics and Biotechnology, University of Colorado
  • 2009 Robert Beamish Leadership Award, University of Manitoba
  • 2010 Medal of Merit, International Academy of Cardiovascular Sciences
  • 2012 Passano Award
  • 2012 Steven C. Beering Award
  • 2013 March of Dimes Prize in Developmental Biology
  • 2014 International Okamoto Award