Harvard University - Department of Molecular & Cellular Biology

FOUR MCB POST-DOCTORATES RECEIVE FELLOWSHIPS

by Cathryn Delude

August 6th, 2013

(l to r) Shankar Mukherji, Lia Cardarelli, David Schoppik, Summer Thyme, and Purvang Patel (Assistant Director of Postdoctoral Affairs)

Four MCB post-doctoral researchers have been awarded post-doctoral fellowships from different funding agencies. Lia Cardarelli (Gibbs Lab) won a three-year CIHR Fellowship from the Canadian Institutes for Health Research. Shankar Mukherji (O’Shea Lab) received a one-year Ruth L. Kirchstein National Research Service Award, sponsored by the NIH/NIGMS. David Schoppik (Schier Lab) received a five-year NIH Pathways to Independence Award from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. Summer Thyme (Schier Lab) is a three-year HHMI Fellow of the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation.

About the Research

Lia Cardarelli: "Self-identity proteins: a biochemical analysis."

When two different isolates of Proteus mirabilis meet on a surface, a visible boundary forms at the interface of the two populations indicating that the bacteria can distinguish between self and non-self. My research focuses on the binding between two proteins that encode the definition of ‘self-identity’. I will examine how this protein-protein interaction communicates a population-wide signal to dictate whether an opposing population is 'self' or not. The knowledge gained from this bacterial immune-like system will propel a greater understanding of not only the human immune system and potentially related diseases, but also of a pathogen's behavior.

 

Shankar Mukherji: “Regulation of organelle function by spatiotemporal control of gene expression.”

One of the hallmarks of the eukaryotic cell is its organization into spatial compartments called organelles. A major question in cell biology has been raised by the observation that many mRNAs are specifically localized to these organelles scattered throughout the cell. I am testing the hypothesis that mRNA localization serves as a key mechanism by which organelle membrane proteins find their correct subcellular destinations. 

 

David Schoppik: "Developmental influences on the functional organization of the vestibular system.”

I propose a series of experiments to understand the normal development and function of the vertebrate central vestibular system, using an animal model with a nervous system and behavior similar to humans. By studying how the vestibular system assembles, I aim to better understand what goes wrong following developmental disorders of the inner ear, allowing us to design appropriate treatments. Similarly, by understanding normal vestibular function, we can evaluate and treat the consequences of acute perturbations, such as in stroke.

 

Summer Thyme: “Chromatin modifications and pioneer transcription factors in development.”

I am engineering protein tools to alter epigenetic modifications in important developmental pathways in a zebrafish model. Epigenetic misregulation, particularly of key regulators of cell fate specification, underlies a vast number of cancers. These tools could be applied to reprogram cell fate, as a means of treating epigenetically mediated diseases such as cancer."

About the Fellowships

Canadian Institutes for Health Research: The fellowship is for three years and worth $45,000/year plus a $5,000/year research allowance.

Howard Hughes Medical Institute Fellow of the Damon Runyon Cancer

Research Foundation: This three-year fellowship provides $52,000 per year. HHMI has collaborated with the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation since 2007 and currently funds 8 awards annually. 

NIH Pathways to Independence Award: This award is for two years of mentored research, and potentially three years of funding for the researcher’s own laboratory.

Ruth L. Kirchstein National Research Service Award: This NIH/NIGMS fellowship provides 1 year of funding at $52,000.