The founding director of The Institute for Systems Genetics at NYU Langone Medical Center.
He served on the faculty at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine from 1988-2013. He is known for foundational work on mechanistic and genomic aspects of retrotransposition, a term he coined to describe this process, common to virtually all eukaryotic genomes and studied by a worldwide scientific community. His studies helped elucidate the intricate molecular mechanisms involved in retrotransposition in yeasts, mice and humans. Current work is focused on genomic and phenotypic impacts of LINE-1 in humans and other animals.
In the area of Synthetic Genomics, he uses a yeast platform to explore construction of designer synthetic chromosomes, leading an international team synthesizing the yeast genome, Sc2.0. In 2018, he launched the “Dark Matter Project” (www.thedarkmatterproject.org) designed to better understand the “instruction manuals” that specify how human genes are expressed, using big DNA technology to build mammalian gene loci in yeast and then deliver those loci and their variants to stem cells. This has, among other things, led to technology to rapidly design and deploy humanized mouse models. During the pandemic, he led a team of volunteers to develop ultra-high throughput coronavirus PCR testing, leading to founding the Pandemic Response Lab, the largest COVID-19 testing operation in New York City. Boeke has founded several biotechnology companies, including Avigen Inc., CDI Labs, and Neochromosome, Inc.