PCMM | 2016

December 12, 2016

Dr. Allison Bialas was awarded Jeffrey Modell Prize

Dr. Allison Bialas is this year’s recipient of the Jeffrey Modell Prize for outstanding postdoctoral fellow within the Program in Cellular and Molecular Medicine. AllisonB

Allison is a 3rd year postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Michael Carroll.  She is studying the underlying mechanisms of neuropsychosis in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus and has identified an important role for microglia in the disease.  Allison received her PhD in Neuroscience at Harvard University, where she trained with Dr. Beth Stevens.

This is the first year the Modell prize was awarded.  Allison’s proposal entitled “Understanding CNS Lupus: Can Peripheral Inflammation Promote Synapse Loss?”, was selected by the PCMM Scientific Board and was announced at the PCMM retreat this past September.

November 7, 2016


Dr. Jing Li was awarded Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation Fellowship

Dr. Li, a postdoctoral fellow in the Springer lab, will test the hypothesis that the conformational ensemble of integrin α5β1 specifies its function, and rational perturbation of its ensemble with conformation-selective antibody or small molecules can convert its role from protumoral to a tumor-inhibiting, and even eradicate dormant breast cancer cells that are resistant to traditional therapies.

August 26, 2016

Xing Liu and Pei-Chi Wei were awarded Charles A. King Trust Postdoctoral Fellowships

Dr. Xing Liu (left), a postdoctoral fellow in the Lieberman lab, will investigate the  underlying mechanism responsible for global mRNA decay during programmed cell death. Decay of mRNA, but not noncoding RNAs, which is triggered when the mitochondrial outer membrane is disrupted early in cell death, is a previously unrecognized mediator of programmed cell death.

Dr. Wei (right) a postdoctoral fellow in the Alt lab has previously identified classes of recurrent DNA double strand breaks (RDC) that occurred frequently in the body of long genes in murine neural stem and progenitor cells (NSPCs).  These genes have been implicated in neuropsychiatric diseases and many are rearranged in cancers, including brain cancers.   Dr. Wei aims to elucidate the roles of RDCs in NSPCs in neuronal cell diversification and brain diseases development.Dr. Wei a postdoctoral fellow in the Alt lab has previously identified classes of recurrent DNA double strand breaks (RDC).

August 16, 2016

Dr. Sadeem Ahmad was awarded Medal for Young Scientists by the Indian National Science Academy

The Medal for Young Scientist is awarded annually by the Indian National Science Academy to young scientists of extraordinary promise and creativity who made notable research contributions in Science and Technology. Dr. Ahmad, a postdoctoral fellow in the Hur lab, received this award for his graduate work at the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad (India) where he elucidated mechanism of D-amino acid uncoupling from tRNA- a process that ensures amino acid homochirality during protein synthesis.


July 14, 2016

Dr. Cheng-Sheng Lee was awarded the Cancer Research Institute Irvington Postdoctoral Fellowship

During this fellowship Dr. Lee will investigate how recombination activating gene endonuclease (RAG) mediates recombination between bona fide RAG recognition sequences (RRSs). Specifically, Dr. Lee will examine the mechanism of RAG tracking, a model originally proposed to explain the RAG off-target joining happened exclusively between convergent RSSs in topologically associated domains. He will also investigate driving forces that propel RAG tracking through a chromosomal loop. The proposed work will help provide fundamental understanding of normal antibody repertoire development and mechanisms of chromosomal translocations in lymphoid cancers. 

July 13, 2016

Dr. Isabel Beerman awarded a NIH Career Development Grant (K01) from the National Institute of Aging

Dr. Beerman, an Instructor in Pediatrics in Dr. Derrick Rossi’s laboratory, has received a five-year career development award to establish the potential of aged blood cells to be reprogrammed to cells with hematopoietic stem cell function. 

Aging of the blood system is associated with many detrimental phenotypes having clinical significance including anemia, increased autoimmunity, and elevated rates of malignancy. Increasing evidence implicates age-associated alterations of the hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) compartment as a primary source of hematopoietic dysregulation. Under Dr. Rossi’s mentorship, Dr. Beerman has established functional, molecular, and epigenetic changes in the aged HSC compartment that underlie aging phenotypes, in a cell-autonomous manner. These findings suggest that restoring functional potential to the aged HSC compartment will mitigate many negative phenotypes associated with blood aging. 

By examining transcriptional as well as epigenetic landscapes of the reprogrammed, or partially reprogrammed blood cells, Dr. Beerman will establish the potential for functional restoration of an aged blood system through reprogramming. 

June 23, 2016

Denisa Wagner Received William Harvey Medal from William Harvey Institute. London, UK

Dr. Denisa Wagner was honored with the William Harvey Medal during the 30th Anniversary Conference of the William Harvey Research Institute. Dr. Wagner also gave the Derek Willoughby Lecture.

June 1, 2016

Congratulations to Alvin Lu

Congratulations to Alvin Lu, a graduate student in the Wu lab for a successful defense of his Ph.D. thesis entitled "Assembly and Regulation of the Inflammasome Governed by a Unified Polymerization Mechanism".

 May 26, 2016

Congratulations to Rohit Panchakshari

Congratulations to Rohit Panchakshari, a graduate student in the Alt lab for a successful defense of his Ph.D. thesis entitled "Investigating Mechanisms of DNA Double Strand Break joining of Switch regions during IgH Class Switch Recombination".

March 2, 2016

Dr. Huan Chen Received Career Development Fellowship from the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

During this fellowship Dr. Chen, a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Fred Alt, will elucidate the mechanistic components and physiologic function of alternative end joining (A-EJ), a DNA double-strand break (DSB) repair pathway that likely contributes to lymphoid and other tumors. She will study A-EJ in the context of IgH class switch recombination (CSR) using a newly developed high throughput genome wide translocation sequencing (HTGTS)-based assay.  Fully characterizing A-EJ will help to understand the onset and progression of some blood cancers and reveal novel targets for cancer treatment. 
February 25, 2016

Fred Alt received Willian Silen Lifetime Achievement in Mentoring Award from Harvard Medical School

Dr. Frederick W. Alt received William Silen Lifetime Achievement in Mentoring Award from Harvard Medical School in recognition of Dr. Alt's impact on professional development and career advancement in research.

 January 5, 2016

Dr. Liman Zhang and Dr. Zhaoqing Ba were awarded the Cancer Research Institute Irvington Postdoctoral Fellowships

Dr. Ba, a postdoctoral fellow in Frederick Alt's lab, will investigate the mechanisms that mediate the intra-locus and inter-locus regulation of V(D)J recombination at Ig kappa and Ig lambda loci during B cell development, and identify RAG off-target activities genome-wide. This work will provide new insights into mechanisms of chromosomal translocations associated with leukemias and lymphomas and ultimately could provide insights into minimizing or preventing such aberrant events.

Dr. Zhang, a postdoctoral fellow in Hao Wu's lab, will investigate the structure and regulation mechanism of inflammasome complexes, which are defenders against cytosolic infections by pathogen through recruitment and activation of pro-caspase-1. Abnormal inhibition and activation of the inflammasome complexes cause many human diseases. For example in the NAIP/NLRC4 inflammasome complex, NLRC4 knockout mice show increased tumor formation compared with wild type mice. NLRC4, along with caspase-1, has been shown to regulate tumorigenesis in a mouse model of colitis-associated colorectal cancer (CAC). This work will provide important insights into cytosolic pathogen sensing mechanisms that could lead to new strategies on disease treatment and drug development.

 January 5, 2016

Dr. Minchul Kim was awarded National Research Service Award (F32) by the NIH

Dr. Kim will investigate molecular mechanisms of totipotency,  a transient developmental state which possesses the ability to differentiate into both placental and embryonic tissues. Using the phenomenon that cultured embryonic stem cell includes subpopulation of totipotent cells together with CRISPR-Cas9 technology, Minchul plans to perform unbiased screening to identify regulators of totipotency. Identified factors will be studied in detail through epigenomic approaches and in vitro fertilization. Results of this study will have significant impact in both basic developmental biology and regenerative medicine.