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D. Lansing Taylor

Photo of D. Lansing Taylor.

D. Lansing Taylor is currently the President and CEO of Cellumen, Inc., the cellular systems biology company. He is also an adjunct professor of biological sciences at Carnegie Mellon University. Taylor started his academic career at Harvard University where he pioneered the development of fluorescent analog cytochemistry (FAC) that combined the technologies of fluorescence tagging of functional proteins, incorporating the labeled proteins into living cells and applying low light level imaging methods to measure the temporal-spatial dynamics of the labeled proteins during cell functions. FAC became a standard method in cell, developmental and neurobiology with the use of the green fluorescent protein (GFP) as a molecular biology approach to tagging proteins and having the cells express the tagged chimera. Taylor’s laboratory also developed ratio imaging microscopy to quantify cellular parameters such as local relative concentrations of proteins, pH and pCa, methods now standard in cell and molecular biology.

Upon moving to Carnegie Mellon University to lead the CFR and then the CLMIB in 1982, Taylor’s laboratory extended the power of light microscope imaging with the integration of advances in imaging science with the semi-automation of light microscope systems to create the Multimode Light Microscope Workstation. The ability to rapidly change modes of light microscopy, including multispectral fluorescence, and 3-D tomography, combined with state-of-the-art imaging tools permitted the quantitative analysis of cell functions at the cellular and sub-cellular level. Five color fluorescence imaging in the same cells was made possible with the use of the multicolor cyanine dyes developed in the Waggoner laboratory. In addition to the imaging technologies, Taylor’s laboratory extended their work with fluorescent analogs of proteins by creating the first protein-based biosensors for living cells that used functional proteins combined with the optimal fluorescent dyes positioned in the most sensitive domains. One of these biosensors, a biosensor for myosin II phosphorylation, was named publication for the year in 1996 by the American Society of Cell Biology.

Taylor left the university in 1996 to found Cellomics, Inc., the company that created High Content Screening. Upon the sale of Cellomics, Inc. to ThermoFisher Scientific, Taylor founded Cellumen, Inc. Currently, Cellumen is developing Cellular Systems Biology (CSB) to create more powerful cellular models of disease, cytotoxicity profiling tools and patient sample profiling for clinical trials. Fluorescence-based cytometry continues as a major component of the company, along with advanced reagents to measure and manipulate cellular functions. Taylor’s 2007 article Past, Present, and Future of High Content Screening and the Field of Cellomics details the history of this research area.

Taylor received a B.S. in zoology from the University of Maryland and a Ph.D. in cellular biophysics from SUNY-Albany, studying with the late Robert Day Allen, one of the modern pioneers in light microscopy. He was a recipient of an NIH career development award at Harvard and an NIH MERIT award at Carnegie Mellon. He has received the Carl Zeiss Lecturer award for his seminal work in studying living cells, the Computerworld Smithsonian Award for Science and Innovation Medal for leading the CLMIB in developing methods to study living cells and the Society of Biomolecular Sciences Accomplishment Award for developing HCS. One publication was chosen as one of the 42 seminal papers published in the first 40 years of the American Society of Cell Biology (In: Landmark Papers in Cell Biology, J.G. Gall and J. R. McIntosh, Eds., Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press and American Society for Cell Biology, N.Y., 2001). Taylor has also received pioneer awards in the biotechnology industry from Ernst and Young and the Carnegie Science Center. Taylor has more than 20 patents and serves on the Boards of PA BIO, the Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse and several biotechnology companies. Taylor trained a large number of graduate students and post-docs; many have gone on to leadership roles in academia and industry.