Good Reading — Dr. U. Thomas Meier was awarded a $1.2 million grant over four years by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences to study how cells assemble small nucleolar RNA-protein complexes that function in the modification of ribosomal and other RNAs, thereby fine-tuning protein synthesis and pre-messenger RNA processing. Dr. Meier’s laboratory will use novel approaches to shed light on these basic cellular processes, thus providing the foundation for understanding what goes wrong in certain genetic diseases and cancers. Dr. Meier is professor of anatomy and structural biology.
Visionary Research — Dr. Nicholas Baker was awarded a $1.5 million grant over four years by the National Eye Institute to study light-responding nerve cells in the eye and the emerging link between their cellular structure and their growth and death cycle. Taking advantage of the large-eyed and genetically tractable fruit fly as a model organism, Dr. Baker’s laboratory will use genetically engineered flies and modern molecular biological techniques to identify key genes and molecules involved in regulating nerve cell survival. The aim of these studies is to gain knowledge that can inform the design of new approaches to treating retinoblastoma, retinal degeneration, and neurodegenerative conditions. Dr. Baker is professor of genetics, of developmental & molecular biology, and of ophthalmology & visual sciences.
Targeting Immunity — The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has awarded Dr. John Chan a $2.5 million grant over five years to study the role of B cells in the immune response to Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb), which causes 2 million TB deaths per year, worldwide. B cells may help to fight off TB by producing antibodies and regulating T cells, lymphocytes known to play important roles in TB resistance. Dr. Chan aims to determine how B cells contribute to an optimal immune response to Mtb and to harness B cell immunity to develop effective strategies for TB control. Dr. Chan is professor of medicine (infectious diseases) and of microbiology & immunology. A major research interest in his lab is to develop, in collaboration with Dr. William Jacobs, Jr. and Dr. Steven Porcelli, effective TB vaccines.