Christopher Nicchitta, PhD was appointed Associate Dean of Research Training in August, 2014. As the Associate Dean for Research Training, Dr. Nicchitta serves as a liaison between the School of Medicine and its biomedical doctoral students, Directors of Graduate Studies, Program Directors, and affiliated faculty. In coordination with the Office of Biomedical Graduate Education, Dr. Nicchitta works to enrich the research training and professional development environment for the biomedical graduate students at the Duke University School of Medicine.
Nicchitta earned a BS in Biology from the College of William and Mary in 1981, a MS in Biology/Marine Biology from the Florida State University in 1983, and a PhD in Biochemistry and Biophysics from the University of Pennsylvania in 1987. He performed his postdoctoral studies in the laboratory of Günter Blobel at the Rockefeller University and joined the Duke School of Medicine faculty in 1993, as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Cell Biology. He is currently a Professor in the Department of Cell Biology, with secondary appointments in the Departments of Biochemistry and Pathology, and is a member of the Duke Cancer Institute. Nicchitta’s commitment to research excellence and graduate education are demonstrated by numerous past and ongoing service appointments, including: Director of Graduate Studies for the Department of Cell Biology (2006-2012); Executive Committee of the Graduate Faculty (1998-2001), and a member of the NIH Biomedical Research Training Study Section (2008 – 2012). In 2013, Dr. Nicchitta was awarded with the Gordon G. Hammes Faculty Teaching Award and in 2016, received a Trinity College Senior Honors award for undergraduate mentoring.
Dr. Nicchitta’s research laboratory is focused on understanding how eukaryotic cells compartmentalize and regulate the protein synthesis activities of the cytosol and endoplasmic reticulum (ER) compartments. In this work, they study how cells regulate the partitioning of mRNAs and translation activity (ribosomes and associated regulatory factors) between the cytosol and ER compartments, during homeostasis and cell stress. Recently, the laboratory has expanded their research interests to include flavivirus biology, specifically how these global pathogens localize their genomic RNAs to the ER and usurp the host cell translation machinery for viral replication. Dr. Nicchitta has been funded continuously by the NIH since 1995, and his research is also supported by the Duke-National University of Singapore.