News & Announcements

Thai receives a UMass President’s Science & Technology Initiatives Fund grant

photo of S. Thai Thayumanavan

S. “Thai” Thayumanavan’s Center for Autonomous Chemistry, an initiative with UMass Lowell and the Medical School, has received $140,000 from the UMass President’s Science & Technology Initiatives Fund toward a project developing the molecular design fundamentals for autonomous chemical systems, inspired by the immune system. The project is one of nine in the five-campus system to receive this grant. Read more

Li Awarded $1.6 Million NIH Grant to Study Inner Ear Signal Processing

Geng-Lin Li, biology, recently was awarded a five-year, $1.6 million grant by the National Institutes of Health to study auditory signal processing in the inner ear. His findings will expand basic understanding of hearing and could lead to better hearing protection. He says, “Our inner ear can process sensory signals with remarkable precision, but it comes with the cost of vulnerability, making it very easily damaged by noise and by aging. As we advance our basic understanding of hearing and satisfy our curiosity, new approaches could arise, allowing us to design better protection for people who work in a noisy environment.” (Read more...)

Scott Garman and other Public Engagement Fellows Share Research with Legislators and Policymakers

photo of Public Engagement Project fellows at the State House

Scott Garman was one of five Public Engagement Project fellows to visit the State House May 9 to share research and explore synergies with state representatives, senators and other policy leaders. Read more

Sandra Petersen awarded NIEHS grant to study little-known gene linked to development, disease and disorders

photo of Sandra Petersen

Sandra Petersen recently received a two-year, $438,000 exploratory grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences to further her studies of a little-known gene, CUG RNA-binding protein 2 (CUGBP2), which affects sex-specific development processes in the brain and has been linked to Alzheimer’s disease, neural cell death and reproductive disorders. Read more

Peter Chien receives CNS Oustanding Research Award

photo of Dean Goodwin, Peter Chien and Jennifer Normanly

Congratulations to Peter Chien, recipient of the CNS Outstanding Research Award (early career)! Peter's research focuses on protein degradation and unfolding, and protein quality control. He received the award recognizing his research accomplishments at a reception on April 27. Read more

Monifa Fahie PhD Dissertation Defense

Monifa Fahie

Monday, May 8, 2017
9:00 AM
Life Sciences Laboratories Building, Room N410
Dissertation title:  Pore forming protein assembly and the use in nanopore sensing: a study on E. coli proteins ClyA and OmpG
Advisor:  Min Chen

Three MCB students awarded Graduate School Dissertation Research Grants

photo of Kamal Joshi, Alex Wells and Trisha Zintel

Three MCB students, Kamal Joshi (Chien group), Alexandria Wells (Pobezinsky group) and Trisha Zintel (Babbitt group), received Dissertation Research Grants from the Graduate School. This program recognizes the research and accomplishments of the outstanding graduate students at UMass, and provides funds to assist recipients in completion of their dissertation.

Between the folds with the small and mighty: Ligands guiding the folding of proteins in surprising ways

MCB students in the Gierasch and Garman labs at UMass, Amherst, have advanced the understanding of the relationship between protein folding and ligands, very small (~100 daltons in size) molecules which reside in the cell. Ligands were found to guide much larger molecules in the folding process, by recent MCB Alumnus, Karan Hingorani. Misfolded proteins are often the cause of disease, and the findings, by Hingorani, and confirmed by current MCB Program students, Mathew Metcalf and Derrick Deming have important implications in new therapies and pharmacological treatments of disease. Read more

Karthik Chandiran PhD Dissertation Defense

Karthik Chandiran

Wednesday, March 29, 2017
2:30 PM
Integrated Sciences Building, Room 221
Dissertation Title:  Notch1 modification and signaling in T helper cell differentiation
Advisor:  Lisa Minter

Pilotte receives Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Grand Challenges Explorations Phase II Award

Nils Pilotte, UMass MCB Program PhD Student

Nils Pilotte, a 4th year student in the University of Massachusetts Amherst Molecular and Cellular Biology Ph.D. Program, recently received a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Grand Challenges Explorations Phase II Award in the amount of $424,874.  This award, which was received as a follow-up to a 2013 Phase I award in the amount of $100,000, will expand upon his preliminary proof-of-concept research, and aims to enable low-cost, high-throughput, sustainable surveillance for the presence of tropical parasites through the molecular monitoring of hematophagic insect excreta/feces (E/F).  Through the sampling and analysis of E/F rather than whole insects, the biological mass of samples can be greatly reduced, minimizing the limitations imposed by the presence of large concentrations of “polluting” DNA, and allowing for the improved throughput of testing.  Furthermore, as non-vector insects which have taken a parasite-containing blood meal rid themselves of parasite material through deposition in the E/F, such testing expands the pool of material suitable for analysis.  Preliminary work has demonstrated the adaptability of this methodology to the detection of both filarial and malarial parasites, and Nils will work to fine tune these testing platforms with the goal of developing recommendations for the programmatic implementation of this alternative approach to infection monitoring and surveillance.

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