Biomedical & Biological Sciences Signature Seminars

Tuesday, September 3, Dr. Joshua Mendell

Regulation and Function of Mammalian Noncoding RNAs

Dr. Josh Mendell

Professor, Department of Molecular Biology,
University of Texas Southwestern

Hosted by:  Bob Weiss & Praveen Sethupathy of The Department of Biomedical Sciences

The Mendell laboratory investigates fundamental aspects of post-transcriptional gene regulation, noncoding RNA regulation and function, and the roles of these pathways in normal physiology, cancer, and other diseases. In addition, we employ high-throughput screening approaches to interrogate diverse problems in RNA and cancer biology.

To briefly summarize some of our most important discoveries, we uncovered the first example of a vertebrate transcription factor that regulates miRNA expression (O’Donnell et al., Nature, 2005). This study, which demonstrated that the MYC oncogenic transcription factor directly transactivates the pro-tumorigenic miR-17-92 cluster, was important for establishing the principle that miRNAs have been functionally integrated into core cancer pathways. Subsequent work from my laboratory further defined the roles of miRNAs in several critical oncogenic and tumor suppressor pathways.

Tuesday,  September 24, Dr. Tracy Johnson

RNA Splicing, Chromatin Modification, and the Coordinated Control of Gene Expression

Dr. Tracy Johnson

Professor, Department of Microbiology,
University of California, Los Angeles

Hosted by: The Diverse Interdisciplinary Student Council

Tracy Johnson is the Maria Rowena Ross Chair of Cell Biology and Biochemistry. Dr. Johnson moved from UC San Diego to UCLA in 2013 to join the faculty in Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology. She earned her B.A. in Biochemistry and Cell Biology from UCSD, her Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from UC Berkeley, and was a Jane Coffin Childs postdoctoral fellow at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) where she studied the mechanisms of RNA splicing with John Abelson. Dr. Johnson’s research is focused on the mechanisms of eukaryotic RNA processing, particularly pre-messenger RNA splicing. Her lab has most recently been interested in the coordination of these reactions with RNA synthesis and chromatin modification. 

Tuesday, October 1, Dr. Yijun Ruan

3D Genome Organization & Transcription Regulation

Dr. Yijun Ruan

Professor, Department of Genome Sciences
The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine

Hosted by:  John Schimenti, Department of Biomedical Sciences

Dr. Yijun Ruan is a professor, Florine Roux Endowed Chair, and the Director of JAX genomic sciences at The Jackson Laboratory (JAX). Prior to joining JAX, he was one of the founding members of the Genome Institute of Singapore, and served as a senior group leader and the associate director for genome technology from 2002 to 2012. He played pivotal roles in establishing Singapore’s genomics capability and the award winning genomics programs. Since 2012, he moved his lab to the Jackson Laboratory and has been a key member in establishing the Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine (a new institute with a focus on human genomics and medicine) located on the campus of UConn Health Center, Farmington Connecticut.  Dr. Ruan’s lab pioneered the paired-end-tag (PET) sequencing strategy for high-throughput genomic and epigenomic analyses. They developed ChIP-PET for genome-wide chromatin immunoprecipitation and protein-binding analysis, which led to the development of the widely used ChIP-Seq method. His lab also developed RNA-PET for full-length transcriptome analysis and DNA-PET using long paired-end tags for identifying genome structural variation.

Tuesday, November 5, Dr. Coleen Murphy

Microbiome Bacterial Small RNAs Dictate Behavioral Choices and Transgenerational Inheritance in C.Elegans

Dr. Coleen Murphy

Professor, Department of Molecular Biology
Princeton University

Hosted by:  Carrie Adler, Department of Molecular Medicine

My lab is focused on the process of aging, which remains one of the fundamental mysteries of biology. While aging may appear to be simply an unfortunate consequence of living, recent genetic breakthroughs suggest that aging is a regulated process, rather than the result of cumulative cellular damage. Many chronic and degenerative disorders, such as diabetes, cancer, and neurodegenerative diseases develop in an age-related manner. Because more than 20% of U.S. citizens will be over the age of 65 by the year 2050, there is a growing need to better understand the mechanisms involved in aging and age-associated diseases.

Tuesday, December 3,  Dr. Diana Bautista - ROOM CHANGE LH5

Itchy and Scratchy: Neuroimmune Mechanisms Underlying Acute and Chronic Itch

Dr. Diana Bautista

Associate Professor, Department of Molecular & Cell Biology, Berkeley University of California 

Hosted by:  Gunther Hollopeter, Department of Molecular Medicine

Humans rely on the sensations of itch, touch and pain for a broad range of essential behaviors. For example, acute pain acts as a warning signal that alerts us to noxious mechanical, chemical and thermal stimuli, which are potentially tissue damaging. Likewise, itch sensations trigger reflexes that may protect us from disease-carrying insects. In addition, during inflammation or injury, we experience a heightened sensitivity to touch that encourages us to protect the injured site. Despite these essential protective functions, itch and pain can outlast their usefulness and become chronic. In mammals, these sensations are mediated by specialized subsets of somatosensory neurons that innervate the skin and viscera. Non-excitable cells, such as keratinocytes and immune cells, also work in conjunction with somatosensory neurons to promote acute and chronic inflammatory pain and itch.

Spring 2019

Tuesday, March 5, Dr. John D. Scott

Exploring and Exploiting the Spatial Constraints of Cell Signaling

Dr. John D. Scott

Professor and Chair, Department of Pharmacology,
University of Washington

Hosted by: Richard Cerione, Department of Molecular Medicine and Praveen Sethupathy, Department of Biomedical Sciences

Dr. John Scott directs a research lab that investigates intracellular communication networks that promote specificity in signal transduction events. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland.

He is interested in the specificity of signal transduction events that are controlled by anchoring proteins, which facilitate rapid signal transduction by optimally positioning protein kinases and phosphatases in the vicinity of their activating signals and close to their substrates.

We study A-kinase anchoring proteins (AKAPs) that tether the cAMP-dependent protein kinase (PKA), other protein kinases, and protein phosphatases to control the phosphorylation status of substrates.

Tuesday, April 30, Dr. Julie Pfeiffer

How Gut Microbes Enhance Enteric Virus Infection

Dr. Julie Pfeiffer

Professor, Department of Microbiology,
University of Texas Southwestern

Hosted by: Dr. Holger Sondermann

Dr. Julie Pfeiffer is a Professor of Microbiology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas where she studies RNA virus evolution, dissemination, pathogenesis, and transmission.  Her recent interests include examining the impact of intestinal microbiota on enteric virus infections. Her lab has determined that intestinal bacteria promote replication of several enteric viruses and ongoing work is examining mechanisms and consequences of bacteria-virus interactions.

Tuesday, May 7, Dr. Blossom Damania

Modulation of Cellular Signaling Pathways by an Oncogenic Human Herpesvirus

Dr. Blossom Damania

Professor, Department of Microbiology & Immunology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Hosted by: Orchi Anannya, Student Sponsored Seminar

Dr. Blossom Damania's laboratory is focused on understanding the molecular pathogenesis of Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV), an oncogenic human virus. KSHV is associated with several types of cancer in the human population. We study the effect of KSHV viral proteins on cell proliferation, transformation, apoptosis, angiogenesis and cell signal transduction pathways.

In summary, our lab is interested in the study of viral oncogenes, viral transcription factors, host-pathogen interactions, and innate immunity. The projects in our laboratory encompass the areas of signal transduction, apoptosis, angiogenesis, innate immunity, transcription and recombinant herpesvirus production. We employ the latest techniques in molecular biology, cell biology, immunology and biochemistry to investigate key issues in viral oncogenesis.

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