News & Announcements

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...)

Becoming Weeds

Ana Caicedo is an author on a new paper about a new resequencing analysis of weedy rice (Oryza sativa L.) biotypes illuminates distinct evolutionary paths and outcomes of de-domestication and ferality. This largest effort to date in weedy plant genomics gives a better understanding of weediness while also providing a promising source of alleles for rice breeding.  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

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.

Kamal Kishore Joshi PhD Dissertation Defense

Kamal K. Joshi

2:00 PM
Monday, January 30, 2017
Life Sciences Laboratories Building, Room S330
Dissertation Title: ADAPTORS AT WORK:  REGULATION OF BACTERIAL PROTEOLYSIS BY ADAPTOR HIERARCHIES
PI: Peter Chien

Evolutionary approach to investigating stem cells’ role in fruit yields using a CRISPR/Cas9 multiplex knockout strategy

Madelaine Bartlett

Plant genome scientist and evolutionary biologist, Madelaine Bartlett, in collaboration with researchers at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, N.Y. and the University of North Carolina, is looking at ways to better understand evolutionary genetics of plants.  The National Science Foundation has awarded a four-year $4 million grant ($812,000 to Bartlett) for the team to study genetic regulation of plant stem cells and their role in higher fruit yields.  Read more

Onur Oztas PhD Dissertation Defense

Onur Oztas, UMass Amherst MCB Program PhD Student

11:00 AM
Friday, January 6, 2017
Life Science Laboratories Building, Room N410
Dissertation Title: HOST MECHANISMS THAT MAINTAIN BACTERIAL PARTNER DURING SYMBIOTIC NITROGEN FIXATION
PI: Dong Wang

Sam Hazen awarded NSF grant to study gene regulation of cell wall growth in Brachypodium in collaboration with local biotechnology group

The grass species Brachypodium is a model for the Hazen lab to better understand the transcription networks regulating secondary cell wall biosynthesis.  The research grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) is part of a Small Business Innovation Research program, and the three-year $713,000 award will fund research aimed at demonstrating how higher yields of renewable biomass can be provided by adapting the processes of secondary cell wall gene regulation that take place in grasses. Read More

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