Vale received B.A. degrees in Biology and Chemistry from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 1980. Dr. Vale received his Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Stanford University in 1985 where he trained with Dr. Eric Shooter. He was a Staff Fellow with the N.I.H. stationed at the Marine Biological Laboratory in 1985-6 (with Tom Reese) and began his faculty appointment at UCSF in 1987. During his time at UCSF, he has served as the Director of the Cell Biology Program (4 years) and Vice-Chair (10 years) and Chair of the Dept. of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology (5 years). He also holds an Adjunct Senior Scientist appointment with the Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole.
Vale has served the scientific community by his participation on an NIH study section (1996-2002; chairing from 2000-2002). He is a Past President of the American Society of Cell Biology and is on their International Affairs Committee.
Vale is active in many educational activities. He founded and produces iBiology, lectures by leading biologists which are made freely available on the web. Vale co-directed the 7 week Physiology Course at the Marine Biological Laboratory, transforming it to a venue of interdisciplinary research in physics and biology (2004-2008). His laboratory developed MicroManager, a widely used open source and freely available software package for microscopy. He also developed an educational web site on microscopy for elementary school children. Vale is active in helping young scientists in India by starting the very popular Young Investigator Meetings as well as an interactive web site (IndiaBioscience.org) for India biologists to obtain information on jobs/grants/ collaborations. He serves on HHMI’s Education Advisory Committee and on the Advisory Committee for the Indian Institute of Science and Education in Pune.
Dr. Vale’s awards include the Pfizer Award in Enzyme Chemistry (1991), the Young Investigator Award from the Biophysical Society (1993), the Wiley Prize in Biomedical Sciences (2012), and the Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research (2012). He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2001 and to the American Academy of Sciences in 2002. He has been the Keith Porter Lecturer (ASCB), the Sunney Chan Lecturer (UCB), Daniel Mazia Lecturer (Stanford), the Lamport Lecturer (U. Washington), the Naidorf Memorial Lecturer (Columbia University), the Davies Lecturer (U. Penn), the Baker Memorial Lecturer (U. Michigan), the UCSF Faculty Research Lecturer, and the Keith Porter Friday Night Lecturer (Marine Biological Laboratory).