Deborah Lycan, Ph.D.

Career Title:  Professor of Biology and of Biochemistry/Molecular Biology, Lewis & Clark College, Portland OR.


  • Scripps College, Claremont Colleges, Claremont, CA
  • B.A. (Biology), University of California at San Diego (summa cum laude), La Jolla, CA
  • Ph.D. (Molecular Biology), MCDB department, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO Postdoctoral Fellowship: Harvard Medical School in Cancer Genetics, Boston, MA


Career Profile:  I earned my Ph.D in molecular, cellular and developmental biology from the University of Colorado, Boulder, where I studied the cancer-causing virus SV40.  I then moved to Boston where I worked at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute on the regulation of genes in the cell cycle and how cells decide to divide again or not.  My first job was at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, OR. There I continued to work on the regulation of the decision to divide for my first 5 years.  Then as an outgrowth of that project, I began to work on a related gene that turned out to be necessary for ribosome biogenesis.  It turns out that rate at which cells can divide is limited by the rate at which they can make new ribosomes.  Ribosome biogenesis is regulated by nutrient availability and by stress and we did work uncovering some of these connections.

At Lewis & Clark I developed and taught a number of courses that had never been taught at the College before; Molecular Biology, Developmental Biology, Investigations in Cell & Molecular Biology and Human Genes & Disease.  I also developed a new interdisciplinary program in biochemistry and molecular biology and served as Chair of that program for many years. The main innovation I brought to all the courses I developed was an insistence that undergraduate students be given the opportunity to design experiments and analyze data where the answer to the question was not known.  The thrill of discovery is something all undergraduates deserve to experience.

Present Interests and Affiliations:  Deborah is a member of the Professional Associates of Fort Lewis College where she works on the Life Long Learning Committee. She is involved in Citizen’s Climate Lobby and other efforts to promote action on climate change.  She drives an electric car called Edison that she charges off the solar panels on her roof.   She has two daughters and sons-in-law who live here in Colorado.  She enjoys the symphony, the theatre, and skiing, hiking, and kayaking, in Colorado and elsewhere.