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Biology Department seminars, unless otherwise noted, are on Mondays at 4:00 p.m. in Merrill 4.
Gerald B. Downes, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Biology, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
“Genetic Analysis of Neurological Disorders in Zebrafish: The Sweet Smell of New Disease Models?”
Research Summary: Using zebrafish as a model system, the Downes laboratory employs an integrated genetic, molecular, cellular, and behavioral approach to study locomotor networks. Since the molecular and cellular mechanisms that control locomotive behavior are often conserved among vertebrate species, their work can provide deeper insight into mammalian systems and furnish new models of human disease. One approach they have taken to examine the development and function of locomotor networks has been to characterize zebrafish mutants that demonstrate abnormal locomotive behavior. For this seminar, Dr. Downes will discuss zebrafish behavioral mutants that highlight the importance of the regulated degradation of select amino acids and re-uptake of neurotransmitters for nervous system development and function, while also providing new tools to combat two distinct neurological diseases. Host: Josef Trapani.
Regina Rabinovich, M.D., M.P.H.
Scholar in Residence,Harvard School of Public Health
"Whither Malaria?: Towards a Rational Long Term Goal"
Research Summary: "Dr. Regina Rabinovich is a global health executive with over 25 years’ experience in the research, public health, and philanthropic sectors, with focus on strategy, analytics, global health product development, and the introduction and scale-up of tools and strategies resulting in impact on endemic populations. She is also the 2012-2013 ExxonMobil Malaria Scholar in Residence at Harvard University. Prior to joining Harvard, Dr. Rabinovich served as Director of the Infectious Diseases Unit at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (from 2003-2012), overseeing the development and implementation of strategies for the prevention, treatment, and control of diseases of particular relevance to global health, including malaria, pneumonia, diarrhea, and neglected infectious diseases.” -Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Host: Patrick Williamson.
Research Summary: " Much has been learned about the signaling pathways and networks of proteins that function together to build and modulate synaptic connections. This rich molecular landscape is under the control of multiple classes of regulatory factors. MicroRNA are versatile posttranscriptional regulators capable of tuning levels of gene expression across a large number of target genes. Through genetic screens in Drosophila, we have discovered that synapse formation and growth are controlled by conserved microRNA genes that orchestrate different stages of synapse development through distinct sets of direct and indirect targets. Having recently created a means of selectively inhibiting the function of any microRNA with spatio-temporal precision in vivo, we are now equipped to survey the functions of all microRNAs in Drosophila in many aspects of neural development, connectivity, behavior, and neurodegeneration. Once this regulatory landscape has been mapped through comprehensive screens in this model organism, it will be possible for us to test the conservation of these mechanisms in mammalian neurons and circuits." Host: Ethan Graf.
Research Summary: "During mitosis and meiosis, chromosomes are partitioned equally into daughter cells by first aligning in the center of the spindle and then being pulled toward opposite poles. This process is normally monitored by a surveillance system known as the Spindle Assembly Checkpoint (SAC) that delays the cell cycle until all chromosomes have made productive attachments to microtubules. Macromolecular complexes called kinetochores play the duel roles of orchestrating this complex chromosome choreography and generating the signals that halt cell cycle progression. Although the identity of kinetochore components has now been well established, we have just begun to understand the assembly process and spatial arrangement of these dynamic machines. Applying 3-D super-resolution imaging to Xenopus egg extracts, we reveal that the kinetochore is spatially and functionally segmented into a static core module supporting stable microtubule attachments and an expandable module responsible for initial, transient attachments and SAC signaling. Our data challenge conventional models of kinetochore assembly and suggest new mechanisms by which kinetochore functions can be coordinated in space and time." Host: Caroline Goutte.
Adam J. Bass '97, M.D.
Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of Cellular and Molecular Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute; Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, Harvard Medical School. "Learning from the Genome to Improve Cancer Therapy"
Research Summary: "In our laboratory, we bring together expertise in modern genomics, experimental/functional biology and clinical medicine. Our overarching goal is to leverage the study the cancer genome to elucidate key biological processes and therapeutic vulnerabilities in carcinomas arising in the GI tract (especially stomach, esophageal carcinomas)." Host: David Ratner.
13 April 2015 TLR