Advisor Profiles

David W. Piston, Ph.D.

Washington University in St. Louis

David W. Piston is the Edward J. Mallinckrodt Jr. Professor and Head of the Department of Cell Biology & Physiology at Washington University in St. Louis.  Dr. Piston was trained in physics at the University of Illinois, where he studied with Enrico Gratton, and he subsequently completed a postdoctoral research fellowship in Applied Physics with Watt Webb at Cornell University.  During his time at Cornell, two-photon excitation microscopy was invented, and this served as Dr. Piston’s entry into biomedical research.  In 1992, Dr. Piston joined the faculty at Vanderbilt University, where he remained until 2014.  He has received a number of honors including a Beckman Young Investigator Award (1993), NIH Study Section Chair (2004-2006), Searle Scholars Advisory Board (2006-20112) and election as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (2015).  Dr. Piston is currently serving as the Program co-Chair for the 2017 Biophysical Society Annual Meeting and as Associate Editor of the Biophysical Journal for Cell Biophysics.  His diverse research group focuses on the understanding the molecular mechanisms that underlie hormone secretion from islets of Langerhans in the pancreas.  Driven by this biomedical focus, the lab develops, optimizes, and applies novel fluorescence microscopies and probes, largely based on the Green Fluorescent Protein and its relatives.  His lab combines these new approaches for measuring behaviors of constituent islet cell types in situ and in vivo at various points along both glucose-regulated and non- glucose-regulated signaling pathways.