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Department of Biology

Faculty Eleanore Wurtzel, Ph.D.



E-mail address:
Phone Number: 718-960-8643
Office: Science Hall 2406 (Lab: Science Hall 2411, 718-960-4994)
Rank: Professor
Degrees and Sources of Degrees: B.S., Ph.D., State Univ. of New York at Stony Brook

Research & Publications


  • Ph.D., Molecular Biology, SUNY Stony Brook
  • Postdoc: Brookhaven National Laboratory- NSF Fellowship in Plant Biology
  • Postdoc: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory



Research in the Wurtzel laboratory is directed at solving a global health problem of vitamin A deficiency that affects 250,000,000 children worldwide and leads to increased childhood mortality. World wide Vitamin A deficiency is linked to diets deficient specifically in pro-vitamin A carotenoids.  To alleviate this public health problem, investigations incorporate tools of molecular biology, structural biology, biochemistry, chemistry, bioinformatics, genetics, and biotechnology. The present goal is to understand, at the molecular and biochemical level, how plants regulate the biosynthesis and accumulation of provitamin A carotenoids. This research, funded by the NIH for over 20 years, is leading to improved strategies for predicting plant chemistry and enhancing provitamin A carotenoid content. These studies are producing knowledge needed to develop healthier and more stress-resilient crops for sustainable solutions to malnutrition and meeting the challenges of food security in the face of climate change.

Positions (link for application and other info)

  • Graduate Assistantship, Biology PhD Program; Plant Sciences PhD subprogram
  • Graduate Assistantship, Biochemistry Ph.D. Program


Selected Publications

NOTE: journal names or "PDF link" link to the cited paper

Link to all Publications    


Science (2016) 353: 1232-1236

Eleanore T. Wurtzel and Toni M. Kutchan
Invited review in special issue on "Translational Plant Science" (Sept. 16, 2016)

The New Harvest

Nature Chemical Biology (2015) doi:10.1038/nchembio.1840

Jesús Beltrán, Brian Kloss, Jonathan P Hosler, Jiafeng Geng, Aimin Liu, Anuja Modi, John H Dawson, Masanori Sono, Maria Shumskaya, Charles Ampomah-Dwamena, James D Love & Eleanore T Wurtzel

Nature Chemical Biology

Carotenoid biosynthesis requires isomerization of the central double bond. Informatic, spectroscopic and functional characterization of Z-ISO, a protein involved in the process, demonstrates that it is a standalone enzyme with unusual heme-dependent chemistry.

Research Group

This research is carried out by the cooperative efforts of graduate and undergraduate students and visiting postdoctoral scientists. Graduate students are enrolled in the CUNY doctoral programs in Biology (Plant Sciences; Molecular Biology) and Biochemistry and in the Lehman College Biology Masters program. Undergraduates are enrolled at Lehman College. The City University of New York (CUNY), situated in one of the world's pre-eminent cities, is the largest urban university in the United States and its third-largest public university system. Some 200,000 students are enrolled for degrees on 20 campuses in all five boroughs of New York City.

Grant Support

This research has been funded by The National Institutes of Health for over 25 years; funding has also been obtained from The Rockefeller Foundation International Program in Rice Biotechnology, The Rockefeller Foundation Biotechnology Career Fellowship Program, PSC-CUNY, The American Cancer Society, and The McKnight Foundation Plant Biology Program. The Lehman College Molecular Biology Laboratory, where molecular and biochemical studies are carried out, has been funded by the National Science Foundation RIMI Program, Ciba-Geigy Corporation, CUNY Center for Applied Biotechnology and Biomedicine (CABB), and GRI (New York State Graduate Research Initiative Program). E. Wurtzel is also a member of the CUNY Institute of Macromolecular Assemblies.

Scientific Community Activities

Monitoring Editor

Associate Editor

Gordon Research Conferences

In the News

About the new science building-Youtube video
On provitamin A research-Youtube video
Look who's teaching at CUNY!
Breaking Boundaries in Science Research at CUNY
More News


  • (wurtzel(at)lehman(dot)cuny(dot)edu)

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