Daniel Lew

Daniel Lew

Professor of Biology

Daniel Lew uses fungal model systems to ask how cells orient their activities in space, including oriented growth, cell wall remodeling, and organelle segregation.



Building 68 - Koch Biology Building


Mary Gallagher



Assistant Phone


  • Graduate: PhD, 1990, Rockefeller University
  • Undergraduate: BA, 1984, Genetics, Cambridge University

Research Summary

Different cells take on an astonishing variety of shapes, which are often critical to be able to perform specialized cell functions like absorbing nutrients or contracting muscles. We study how different cell shapes arise and how cells control the spatial distribution of their internal constituents. We take advantage of the tractability of fungal model systems, and address these questions using approaches from cell biology, genetics, and computational biology to understand molecular mechanisms. 

Honors and Awards

  • Fellow, American Academy of Microbiology, 2008
  • Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2010
  • Duke Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Award, 2019

Key Publications

  1. Ratiometric GPCR signaling enables directional sensing in yeast. Henderson, NT, Pablo, M, Ghose, D, Clark-Cotton, MR, Zyla, TR, Nolen, J, Elston, TC, Lew, DJ. 2019. PLoS Biol 17, e3000484.
    doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.3000484PMID:31622333
  2. Principles that govern competition or co-existence in Rho-GTPase driven polarization. Chiou, JG, Ramirez, SA, Elston, TC, Witelski, TP, Schaeffer, DG, Lew, DJ. 2018. PLoS Comput Biol 14, e1006095.
    doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1006095PMID:29649212
  3. Negative feedback enhances robustness in the yeast polarity establishment circuit. Howell, AS, Jin, M, Wu, CF, Zyla, TR, Elston, TC, Lew, DJ. 2012. Cell 149, 322-33.
    doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2012.03.012PMID:22500799
  4. Singularity in polarization: rewiring yeast cells to make two buds. Howell, AS, Savage, NS, Johnson, SA, Bose, I, Wagner, AW, Zyla, TR, Nijhout, HF, Reed, MC, Goryachev, AB, Lew, DJ et al.. 2009. Cell 139, 731-43.
    doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2009.10.024PMID:19914166
  5. Symmetry-breaking polarization driven by a Cdc42p GEF-PAK complex. Kozubowski, L, Saito, K, Johnson, JM, Howell, AS, Zyla, TR, Lew, DJ. 2008. Curr Biol 18, 1719-26.
    doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2008.09.060PMID:19013066

Recent Publications

  1. Tools for live-cell imaging of cytoskeletal and nuclear behavior in the unconventional yeast, Aureobasidium pullulans. Petrucco, CA, Crocker, AW, D'Alessandro, A, Medina, EM, Gorman, O, McNeill, J, Gladfelter, AS, Lew, DJ. 2024. Mol Biol Cell 35, br10.
    doi: 10.1091/mbc.E23-10-0388PMID:38446617
  2. Particle-based simulations reveal two positive feedback loops allow relocation and stabilization of the polarity site during yeast mating. Guan, K, Curtis, ER, Lew, DJ, Elston, TC. 2023. PLoS Comput Biol 19, e1011523.
    doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1011523PMID:37782676
  3. Targeted secretion: Myosin V delivers vesicles through formin condensates. Jacobs, KC, Gladfelter, AS, Lew, DJ. 2022. Curr Biol 32, R1228-R1231.
    doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2022.10.001PMID:36347230
  4. Mechanism of commitment to a mating partner in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Jacobs, KC, Gorman, O, Lew, DJ. 2022. Mol Biol Cell 33, ar112.
    doi: 10.1091/mbc.E22-02-0043PMID:35947501
  5. Pheromone Guidance of Polarity Site Movement in Yeast. Jacobs, KC, Lew, DJ. 2022. Biomolecules 12, .
    doi: 10.3390/biom12040502PMID:35454091
  6. Cultivating PhD Aspirations during College. Jones, DS, Gillette, DD, Cooper, PE, Salinas, RY, Hill, JL, Black, SJ, Lew, DJ, Canelas, DA. 2022. CBE Life Sci Educ 21, ar22.
    doi: 10.1187/cbe.20-06-0111PMID:35324271
  7. Chemotropism and Cell-Cell Fusion in Fungi. Clark-Cotton, MR, Jacobs, KC, Lew, DJ. 2022. Microbiol Mol Biol Rev 86, e0016521.
    doi: 10.1128/mmbr.00165-21PMID:35138122
  8. A novel stochastic simulation approach enables exploration of mechanisms for regulating polarity site movement. Ramirez, SA, Pablo, M, Burk, S, Lew, DJ, Elston, TC. 2021. PLoS Comput Biol 17, e1008525.
    doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1008525PMID:34264926
  9. How cells determine the number of polarity sites. Chiou, JG, Moran, KD, Lew, DJ. 2021. Elife 10, .
    doi: 10.7554/eLife.58768PMID:33899733
  10. Exploratory polarization facilitates mating partner selection in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Clark-Cotton, MR, Henderson, NT, Pablo, M, Ghose, D, Elston, TC, Lew, DJ. 2021. Mol Biol Cell 32, 1048-1063.
    doi: 10.1091/mbc.E21-02-0068PMID:33689470
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Photo credit: Lillian Eden