News & Announcements


Researchers at UMASS Amherst Shed Light on How Tumor Cells Outwit the Body's Immune System

In a first-of-its-kind research breakthrough, a team of scientists at the University of Massachusetts Amherst has analyzed and described what they call the “mosquito effect,” which sheds light on how certain pathogens, such as cancerous tumor cells, can outwit the body’s immune system.

Just as mosquitoes ingest their host’s blood, the immune system’s T cells incorporate cytoplasmic material from tumors into their own cytoplasm. While it has long been known that many kinds of cells can transfer cellular material from one to another, the transfer of the cytoplasm has never been observed in T cells. Subsequent single-cell RNA (scRNA) sequencing shows that cytoplasm from tumor cells alters the machinery responsible for protein coding in the host T cell. The research, reported recently in the journal Frontiers in Immunology, is a major step forward in understanding how tumors can successfully evade the immune system, and thus a step toward more effective treatments.

To make the discovery, Pobezinsky and his team, including first author Kaito Hioki, graduate student in the MCB program at UMass Amherst, and Elena Pobezinskaya, research assistant professor also in veterinary and animal sciences at UMass and co-senior author of the paper, engineered tumor cells to produce an ultrabright fluorescent protein called ZsGreen. They then introduced the green-glowing tumor cells into a mouse model. After eight days, the model’s tumor-infiltrating immune cells were gathered and analyzed using state-of-the-art equipment in the Flow Cytometry lab at UMass Amherst’s Institute for Applied Life Sciences. Read more

UMASS Amherst Researchers Crack the Cellular Code on Protein Folding, Opening New Therapeutic Avenues for Many Diseases

While we often think of diseases as caused by foreign bodies—bacteria or viruses—there are hundreds of diseases affecting humans that result from errors in cellular production of its proteins. A team of researchers led by the University of Massachusetts Amherst recently leveraged the power of cutting-edge technology, including an innovative technique called glycoproteomics, to unlock the carbohydrate-based code that governs how certain classes of proteins form themselves into the complex shapes necessary to keep us healthy.

The research, published in the journal Molecular Cell, explores members of a family of proteins called serpins, which are implicated in a number of diseases. The research is the first to investigate how the location and composition of carbohydrates attached to the serpins ensure that they fold correctly. Serious diseases—ranging from emphysema and cystic fibrosis to Alzheimer’s disease—can result when the cellular oversight of protein folding goes awry. Identifying the glyco-code responsible for high-fidelity folding and quality control could be a promising way for drug therapies to target many diseases.

The discovery of the carbohydrate-based chaperone system in the ER was due to the pioneering work that Daniel Hebert, professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at UMass Amherst and one of the paper’s senior authors, initiated as a postdoctoral fellow in the 1990s. “The tools we have now, including glycoproteomics and mass spectrometry at UMass Amherst’s Institute for Applied Life Sciences, are allowing us to answer questions that have remained open for over 25 years,” says Hebert. “The lead author of this new paper, Kevin Guay, is doing things I could only dream of when I first started.” Read more

Jun-Goo Kwak PhD Dissertation Defense



Advisor: Jungwoo Lee

LSL N410 

January 11th at 1:00 pm

Navya Sebastian Masters Thesis Defense

Title:"Understanding the Functional Impact of Disease-Associated Phosphorylation Sites on the Neurodegenerative Protein Tau"

Advisor: Jennifer Rauch

December 19th at 12:30pm in LSL N410

Parag Juvale PhD Thesis Defense 

Title: "Postsynaptic Changes in Inhibitory Signaling are not Necessary for Experience-Dependent Maintenance of the Visual System"

Advisor: Sarah Pallas

December 20, at 12 pm

Location: Room 222, Morrill


Olivia Macrorie MS Thesis defense

Title: Investigating the role of Got2 in murine organogenesis and placental development

Advisor: Kimberly D Tremblay

Monday December 18 at 1pm in ISB 221

Successful Annual MCB Retreat at Mount Snow VT

Interdepartmental Graduate Programs (MCB + NSB + OEB + PB) Social

Monday, October 23 5:00-7:00pm

Campus Center Marriott room

Come one, come all, for food, drink, and collegiality!

Interdepartmental Graduate Programs SOCIAL

Molecular and Cellular Biology + Neuroscience and Behavior + Organismic and Evolutionary Biology + Plant Biology

Christine Otfinoski PhD Dissertation Defense


Title: Visual experience is necessary for maintenance but not development of lateral inhibition in superior colliculus

Advisor: Sarah Pallas

November 20th at 11:15am

Morrill 2 222

Hyuna Kim's PhD defense 

Studies on Breast Cancer Dormancy Using Cell Lineage Tree Approach and Tissue-Mimicking Hydrogels

Shelly Peyton's lab

August 30, 1pm

LSL N410