Eric T. Kool was born in Libertyville, Illinois and completed his undergraduate studies at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. He pursued graduate studies in organic chemistry as an NSF Fellow at Columbia University, receiving his Ph.D. in 1988, and continued his training at Caltech as an NIH Postdoctoral Fellow. In 1990 he joined the faculty at the University of Rochester, where he was promoted to Professor in 1997. In 1999 he moved his laboratory to Stanford University, where he is the George and Hilda Daubert Professor of Chemistry. At Stanford he is a member of the Bio-X program, the Biophysics program, the Stanford Cancer Institute, and is a Fellow of ChEM-H.
Kool’s research interests lie in the interdisciplinary fields of organic chemistry, chemical biology, and biophysics. His work is aimed at the design of new functionally useful molecular tools, and applying them to gain basic understanding of biological interactions and mechanisms involving nucleic acids. Among his most important contributions include the development of DNA base mimics called “nonpolar nucleoside isosteres”, which allowed his lab to discover that DNA replication can occur without Watson-Crick hydrogen bonding; the invention of rolling circle amplification (RCA) and rolling circle transcription (RCT), which are widely used isothermal DNA/RNA amplification methods; the first successful applications of designed DNA bases in living cells; the development of many fluorescent enzyme probes from modified DNA; and the development of molecular probes for imaging and mapping the structures of cellular RNAs.
Over 300 publications to date describe Kool’s work, and he has presented more than 250 invited lectures in the United States and abroad. His lab’s molecular tools have found many useful applications, and he is an inventor on 35 patents granted or pending. His inventions have been used as founding technologies for four different biotechnology companies. Kool has received numerous national awards in recognition of his research, including the Dreyfus Foundation Teacher-Scholar Award, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellowship, the American Chemical Society’s Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award, the ACS Pfizer Award, and the ACS Breslow Award. He was also named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Kool has trained more than 120 graduate students and postdoctoral researchers in his laboratory; over thirty-five of them have taken academic positions worldwide. A popular teacher in sophomore-level organic chemistry at Stanford, he has twice been awarded the Humanities & Sciences Dean’s Award for Distinguished Teaching.