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News and Events

2014-2015 SEMINARS & EVENTS:

Oct. 3, 2014:  Dr. Laura Vandenberg
Assistant Professor, Department of Environmental Health Sciences, UMass Amherst, Amherst, MA 
"From hormones to endocrine disruptors: lessons learned (and not learned)" 
Friday October 3, 2014 at 12:30 pm, MBH 216

 "We live in a chemical stew. With tens of thousands of chemicals on the market, human exposures to many compounds are widespread. In fact, scientists have measured hundreds in the human body  - including the bodies of newborns. Some of these chemicals, so-called endocrine disruptors, interfere with the actions of hormones in the body. Research from epidemiology, behavioral sciences, cell biology, environmental health sciences, toxicology, molecular biology and many other fields has contributed to our knowledge about endocrine disruptors. This talk will review some of the latest science - and discuss why public health professionals have struggled to deal with how these chemicals should be tested and regulated. We will also delve into the political arena that surrounds discussions of endocrine disruptors, and whether much of the ongoing controversy is an example of 'manufactured doubt'."  Co-Sponsored by the Department of Biology, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Program in Molecular Biology & Biochemistry, and Program in Environmental Studies

Oct. 10, 2014: Julius Lucks,
School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Cornell University"Controlling Cells through RNA Folding"
12:30 pm, MBH 220 (lunch available at 12:15pm)
Cells have an amazing ability to process information, make decisions, and change their state in response to changing environments. This ability is encoded within the cellular DNA genome, which is converted into RNA and protein molecules through the basic processes of gene expression. Among the many functions these RNAs and proteins perform is regulating their own expression. In fact RNAs are now known to regulate almost all aspects of gene expression, and play central roles in controlling some of life’s most basic processes.
As with many biomolecules, RNA function is intimately related to its structure. Being a single-stranded polymer of nucleotides, RNA can fold back on itself to form structures that enable certain RNAs to block or allow gene expression processes. Central questions in biology and bioengineering are then: How do RNAs fold inside cells?, and How can we engineer these folds to control gene expression? In this talk I will present our work in addressing both of these questions, and how our work fits into the larger field of Synthetic Biology. In particular, I will highlight our recent technological breakthroughs that allow us to characterize how RNAs fold inside cells, and in constructing genetic networks out of RNA molecules that dynamically control gene expression. I will conclude with thoughts about how our work is leading us to ask deep scientific questions about the fundamental processes of RNA folding and function, and the role of RNAs in nature.
Sponsored by the Biology Department, Physics Department, Program in Molecular Biology & Biochemistry, and the Albert D. Mead Professorship

Oct. 16 & 17, 2014: Dr. Martin Chalfie, Nobel Laureate,
University Professor, Biological Sciences, Columbia University

Public Talk: "GFP: Lighting Up Life"
Thurs Oct 16 at 7:30pm in Dana Auditorium
GFP and other fluorescent proteins have revolutionized biology because they allow scientists to look at the inner workings of living cells. The story of the discovery and development of GFP provides a very nice example of  the importance of basic research on non-traditional organisms and of how scientific progress is often made: through accidental discoveries, the willingness to ignore previous assumptions and take chances, and the combined efforts of many people. 

Science Talk:
"Mechanosensory Transduction and its Modification in C. elegans"
Friday Oct 17 at 12:30pm in MBH 216

Although biologists have known the molecules that allow us to see and smell, they have been much less successful discovering the molecules that sense mechanical signals.  Using the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, we have identified channel proteins that sense gentle touch and additional mechanisms that change the sensitivity of these mechanosensory channels.  These changes allow the animals to respond differentially to touch under various environmental conditions and to change the priority of sensory signals

SPRING 2015:

Feb. 13, 2015:  Karen Hinkle
Biology Dept, Norwich University 
"Phosphorylation of the SH2 domain of the Src Family Kinase, Fyn: Impacts on Activity and Neuronal Patterning"
12:30pm, Location TBD
The research in my laboratory is focused on investigating cellular and molecular alterations resulting from exposure to environmental toxins.
http://voices.norwich.edu/karenhinkle/about/

March 9-10, 2015:  Dr. Carol Greider, Nobel Laureate
Winner of the 2009 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine along with Drs. Elizabeth Blackburn and Jack Szostak for their discovery of chromosome end protection in the form of telomeres via the enzyme telomerase.  She is currently the Daniel Nathans Professor and Director of Molecular Biology and Genetics at Johns Hopkins University.

Apr. 24, 2015:  Guy Caldwell
Biological Sciences, The University of Alabama
www.bama.ua.edu/~gcaldwel
“A Predictable Worm: Application of C. elegans to Investigate Neurodegenerative Diseases.”
12:30pm, Location TBD


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