Graduation 2011 Biomedical Sciences Honored Speaker

Published May 24, 2011 This content is archived.

The honored speaker at the 2011 commencement for the Biomedical Sciences was Constance Brinckerhoff, PhD ’68, Nathan Smith Professor of Molecular Medicine and Biochemistry, and associate dean of science at the Dartmouth Medical School.


Brinckerhoff received her Bachelor of Arts degree in biology cum laude at Smith College before completing her doctorate in microbiology at UB. She joined the faculty at Dartmouth as instructor in 1975 and rose through the ranks to become a full professor by 1988.

In the mid-1970s Brinckerhoff began investigating a group of enzymes, the matrix metalloproteases (MMPs), which digest the extracellular matrix and are integral to the remodeling of connective tissue. Because MMPs also are implicated in the degeneration of connective tissue in arthritis and in mediating tumor metastases, inhibitors of the enzymes have great therapeutic potential for both arthritis and cancer.

Brinckerhoff’s most recent work has yielded important new insights into the connection between inflammation and MMP production and has helped to elucidate the role of this class of enzymes in cancer metastasis.

Her research has been continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for more than 30 years, including a MERIT award from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Disorders.

Brinckerhoff is currently pursuing two related projects involving MMPs: one that looks at genetic and epigenetic regulation of their expression and the other examining their role in the metastatic phenotype of melanomas. To date, she and her colleagues have published more than 140 papers in these areas.

In addition to conducting research, Brinckerhoff serves in several administrative roles at Dartmouth, including acting chair of the Department of Biochemistry and acting provost of the college.

Brinckerhoff has served on multiple review panels at the NIH and elsewhere as well as on the editorial boards of several journals. Since 2003, she has been the executive editor of the Journal of Cellular Physiology.