Amar Klar

BIOLOGIST 1947-2017


His was a lovely mind who never stopped having important ideas
- James D. Watson


1947 - 2017



Amar J.S. Klar was an influential yeast geneticist and a pioneer in epigenetics research. As a member of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory yeast group, he and his colleagues deciphered the genetic and molecular biological mechanisms of mating type switching in yeast, demonstrated the role of gene silencing in switching, and showed the directionality of switching as a result of specific chromosomal location. In subsequent work leading from his study of yeast mating systems, Amar investigated the asymmetry of DNA chains, asymmetric cell division, and DNA strand-specific segregation that was driven by somatic strand-specific imprinting and selective chromatid segregation. This research led to investigation of instances of left-right symmetry in congenital limb development anomalies, visceral organ laterality, brain hemisphere asymmetry, and piebald wing color in beetles.


Klar was born on April 1, 1947 in Punjab, India. He earned his undergraduate degree in biochemistry (1967) and Master’s Degree of Science in microbiology (1969), both from Punjab Agriculture University, Hissar India. He then went on to receive his Ph.D. in bacteriology at the University of Wisconsin in 1975 under the eminent microbiologist Harlyn O. Halvorson. Amar studied genetics as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, Berkeley with molecular biologist and yeast geneticist Seymour Fogel.


A phone call from Jim Watson brought Amar to Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in 1978. Watson told him that “We are opening a yeast lab to work on mating-type switching. Whatever you need, I will arrange it.” Amar joined Jeffrey Strathern, Jim Broach, and Jim Hicks in April in Davenport Lab. Although Broach left for SUNY Stony Brook soon after, the remaining three comprised as the “yeast group” until 1983–1984.

Klar also served as director of the Delbrück Laboratory from 1985 to 1988. He was a seminal figure in the organization of the Molecular Biology of Yeast meetings at CSH and well as the highly regarded 1984 Cold Spring Harbor Symposia on Quantitative Biology Genetic Recombination at the DNA Level.


Dr. Klar left Cold Spring Harbor in 1988 to join the ABL-Basic Research Program as Head of the Developmental Genetics Section.  In 1999, Klar joined the National Cancer Institute Center for Cancer Research as a Principal Investigator in the Gene Regulation and Chromosome Biology Laboratory at NCI-CCR.


Dr. Klar stayed in touch with his roots at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory as an organizer of the Yeast Cell Biology meeting (1989), and the Epigenetic Mechanisms of Gene Regulation (1993) at the Banbury Conference Center. He attended meetings and was a frequent seminar speaker at the Yeast Genetics course held each summer at CSHL.


In 2002 Dr. Klar donated his laboratory research notebooks, photographs, and correspondence documenting his work at CSHL. Yeast collaborators Jeff Strathern and Jim Hicks followed suit with their yeast laboratory notebooks in 2002 and 2012, respectively. The Yeast Collection documents the work of the triad of the yeast genetics group at CSHL from 1978–1988. Dr. Klar died on March 5, 2017 in Fredrick, Maryland.






Copyright © 2017 Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.