Honors & News
March 27, 2015
A University of Rochester team found a way to make chemotherapy more effective, by stopping a cellular quality-control mechanism, according to a study published today in Nature Communications.
The mechanism is known as NMD (nonsense-mediated mRNA decay), and scientists found that exposing breast cancer cells to a molecule that inhibits NMD prior to treatment with doxorubicin, a drug used to treat leukemia, breast, bone, lung and other cancers, hastens cell death.
The research team, led by Lynne E. Maquat, Ph.D., director of the Center for RNA Biology at the University of Rochester, acknowledges that the work is in the early stages and a long way from being applied in humans. But, they believe their data provide insights that could lead to new treatment strategies for cancer patients in the future.
March 26, 2015
Lynne E. Maquat, Ph.D. received the 2015 Gairdner International Award for the discovery and mechanistic studies of nonsense-mediated mRNA decay, a cellular quality control mechanism that derails the production of unwanted proteins in the body that can disrupt normal processes and initiate disease. She is one of five scientists honored with the award, which is given every year to recognize the achievement of medical researchers whose work contributes significantly to improving the quality of human life.
The J. Lowell Orbison Endowed Chair and Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of Rochester Medical Center, Maquat is known around the world for her work on nonsense-mediated mRNA decay, which is critically important in both normal and disease states. She is considered the uncontested pioneer on the subject and in 2011 was elected to the National Academy of Sciences for her exceptional research, which has been published in more than 130 peer-reviewed scientific articles.
Maquat is the first scientist from upstate New York to receive the Gairdner International Award, which is recognized for its rigorous peer-led selection process. A panel of active Canadian scientists reviews all nominations and passes their recommendations to a board of two dozen senior scientists from across Canada, the United States, Europe, Australia and Japan. After in-depth study and review, board members cast votes for the nominees whose achievements rise above all others in their field. According to the Gairdner Foundation, of the 313 winners to date, 82 have gone on to receive a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, a testament to the quality of the awardees.
August 14, 2014
Maquat Receives Prestigious NIH MERIT Award
Lynne E. Maquat, Ph.D., the J. Lowell Orbison Endowed Chair and Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, has received a MERIT award from the National Institutes of Health to continue her research in RNA biology.
Maquat is an internationally recognized expert in the field of RNA biology, in which she works to discover new cellular pathways and clues to the molecular basis of human disease. She is the Founding Director of the University's Center for RNA Biology and in 2011 was elected to the National Academy of Sciences. She is one of three faculty members from SMD who have been appointed to the Academy and the only woman.
The MERIT award (the acronym stands for Method for Extending Research In Time) was established by NIH in 1986 to provide stable, long-term grant support to help top scientists pursue ambitious projects that require more time to develop -- with the idea that higher-risk research can lead to higher-impact findings. The award also lifts the burden of applying for new grants to fund their research. MERIT recipients receive five years of funding and are afforded a simplified renewal for a second five-year period, cutting out the complex reapplication process, as long as they meet certain criteria showing that their research has yielded results.
Scientists cannot apply for the award; they are nominated by the funding NIH institute. Less than five percent of NIH-funded investigators are selected.
March 5, 2014
Free Webinar: 'The Future of RNA-based Therapies'
Faculty Perspectives, an online lecture series sponsored by the Office of Alumni Relations, will feature Lynne Maquat, director of the Center for RNA Biology and the J. Lowell Orbison Distinguished Service Alumni Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, on Thursday, March 6. Maquat will discuss the molecular basis of human diseases and new RNA-centric therapies to treat them. The free webinar starts at 1 p.m. Register here.
January 16, 2014
Lynne E. Maquat, Ph.D., the J. Lowell Orbison Endowed Chair and Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, was named the 2014 Athena Award winner today at a special luncheon at the Rochester Riverside Convention Center. The award, presented annually by the Women's Council of the Rochester Business Alliance, recognizes women who excel in their professions, give back to their communities and mentor other women for leadership roles.
Maquat is an internationally recognized expert in the field of RNA biology in which she works to discover new cellular pathways and clues to the molecular basis of human disease. She is the Founding Director of the University's Center for RNA Biology and in 2011 received one of the highest honors possible for any scientist - election to the National Academy of Sciences. In addition, having spent her career advocating for young women in the sciences, Maquat founded the University of Rochester Graduate Women in Science Program (GWIS) in 2003. Elected for her exceptional research, which has been published in more than 110 peer reviewed scientific journals, Maquat is one of only three faculty members from the University of Rochester Medical Center who have been appointed to the Academy and the only woman.
The Athena award program was founded in 1982 to recognize and honor the achievements of outstanding female leaders and introduced to Rochester in 1987. This year, Maquat was one of thirteen women chosen as finalists by the Rochester Women's Council for their professional excellence, community service and active and generous assistance in helping other women develop leadership skills.
January 8, 2014
On January 16, the Women's Council, an affiliate of the Rochester Business Alliance, will honor thirteen women chosen as this year's finalists for the Athena Award, based on their significant professional achievements, their community service endeavors, and their leadership in the advancement of other professional women. Among them is Dr. Lynne Maquat, Ph.D., the J. Lowell Orbison Endowed Chair and Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics in the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. She is also founding director of the UR Center for RNA Biology, and founding chair of UR Graduate Women in Science.
In 2011, she received one of the highest honors possible for a scientist, election to the National Academy of Sciences, for her exceptional research in the field of RNA biology discovering new cellular pathways and the molecular basis of human diseases. She has been published in more than 110 peer reviewed journals, written 23 book chapters and edited 4 books on the topic. Maquat was also elected in 2006 to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Maquat has spent her career advocating for young women in the sciences. Her many mentoring awards include the 2013 University of Rochester President's Diversity Award and the 2014 William C. Rose Award from the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. She has been inspired by male professors who, unlike some, believed there is a place for women in science.
August 9, 2013
Lynne Maquat, Ph.D., the J. Lowell Orbison Endowed Chair & Professor, Biochemistry & Biophysics, Director of the University of Rochester Center for RNA Biology, and Chair of the University of Rochester Graduate Women in Science, has been selected to receive The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) 2014 William C. Rose Award. The William C. Rose Award recognizes outstanding contributions to biochemical and molecular biological research and a demonstrated commitment to the training of young scientists, as epitomized by the late Dr. Rose. A part of the Award includes transportation to the 2014 ASBMB Annual Meeting to present a lecture, April 26-30, 2014 in San Diego. For more on Dr. Maquat and her research program please visit the Maquat Lab.
January 10, 2013
URMC Biochemistry Professor Named University of Rochester 2013 Presidential Diversity Award Recipient
University of Rochester President Joel Seligman, with 2013 Diversity Award winners Suzanne Piotrowski (THSP), Kevin Graham (THSP), Alyssa Cannarozzo (THSP), Lynne Maquat of the Medical Center, Kim Muratore (THSP), and Vice Provost for Faculty Development & Diversity Vivian Lewis.
Lynne Maquat, Ph.D., J. Lowell Orbison Endowed Chair & Professor, Biochemistry & Biophysics; Director, University of Rochester Center for RNA Biology: From Genome to Therapeutics; Chair, University of Rochester Graduate Women in Science, has been selected to receive one of two 2013 Presidential Diversity Awards for exemplary contributions to the University's diversity and inclusion efforts. Dr. Maquat is being honored for combining her groundbreaking research agenda with a lifelong commitment to helping women succeed in science. Her remarkable accomplishments include the networking and mentoring programs she initiated as president of the RNA Society; her creation in 2003 of the University of Rochester Graduate Women in Science (GWIS) program; and her award and renewal of an NIH training grant that supports graduate students, including underrepresented minorities, in the cellular, biochemical and molecular sciences.
The Presidential Diversity Awards were created in 2009 by President Joel Seligman to recognize faculty, staff, students, units, departments or teams that demonstrate a commitment to diversity and inclusion through recruitment and retention efforts, teaching, research, multi-cultural programming, cultural competency, community outreach activities, or other initiatives.
May 8, 2012
Chenguang Gong Receives 2012 Scaringe and China Scholarship Council Awards
Chenguang Gong, M.S., a graduate student in the laboratory of Lynne E. Maquat, Ph.D., the J. Lowell Orbison Chair and Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics and Director of the Center for RNA Biology, was awarded one of two 2012 Graduate Student Scaringe Awards from the RNA Society. Each year, the award is given to recognize graduate students who publish the best papers of the previous year in the areas of interest to the society. Gong was honored for his first-author publication in Nature (2011), which describes a new role for long non-coding RNAs in humans. Gong also has a first-author publication in Genes & Development (2009) and several review articles from his graduate work in the Maquat lab. Gong will receive the award in early June at the Annual Meeting of the RNA Society. As part of the award, Gong is invited to write a review for the society's journal RNA.
Gong also received a Chinese Government Award for Outstanding Students Abroad. Established in 2003 by the China Scholarship Council (CSC), this award encourages research excellence and recognizes overseas Chinese students with outstanding academic accomplishments. The award includes a $5,000 cash prize and a CSC-issued certificate. Gong will join 30 other Chinese graduate students in the CSC's ten-state jurisdiction, which includes not only New York but also Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Maine, Ohio, Connecticut, New Jersey, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Vermont, at the Awards Ceremony held on May 25 in New York City.
May 13, 2011
Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics Holds Annual Awards Ceremony
The department of Biochemistry & Biophysics held its annual awards ceremony to celebrate those students that received their doctoral degree this year. Awards were also given out to various students and faculty members for their respective research and teaching contributions. The following awards were given:
- Walter Bloor Award for Excellent Ph.D. Thesis
- Keith Connolly and Christopher Hine
- George Metzger Award for Excellence in Biophysics Ph.D. Thesis
- Jessica Snyder
- Marvel-Dare Nutting Award Recognizing an Outstanding Biochemistry Ph.D.
- Tamara Caterino
- William Neuman Award in Biophysics
- Paul Black
- William Neuman Travel Awards
- Paul Black, He Fang, Nicholas Leioatts, and Wenhua Wang
- Excellent Student Seminar Presentations
- Wen Shen, Karyn Schmidt, Krystle McLaughlin, and Nicholas Leioatts
- Faculty Teaching Awards
- David Mathews, Ph.D. and Lynne Maquat, Ph.D.
- Staff Recognition Award
- Melissa Vera
May 4, 2011
Dr. Lynne Maquat was elected to join an elite group of exceptional scientists that make up the National Academy of Sciences. Her election was based on her development of the field of nonsense mediated message decay described in detail on her laboratory website. Her accomplishments include leading this area that focuses on mechanisms by which cells recognize and remove flawed RNAs before they can encode defective proteins, publishing in journals such as Cell and Nature, and training highly successful students and fellows. She is only the third faculty member in the University of Rochester Medical Center with this honor and joins Dr. Fred Sherman as the second member of the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics in the Academy.
The 2010-2011 Faculty & Student Honors Slideshow can be viewed here
February 9, 2011
Scientists have discovered a new way genes are regulated that is unique to primates, including humans and monkeys. Though the human genome – all the genes that an individual possesses – was sequenced 10 years ago, greater understanding of how genes function and are regulated is needed to make advances in medicine, including changing the way we diagnose, treat and prevent a wide range of diseases.
It's extremely valuable that we've sequenced a large bulk of the human genome, but sequence without function doesn't get us very far, which is why our finding is so important,said Lynne E. Maquat, Ph.D., lead author of the new study published today in the journal Nature.
June 28, 2010
Lynne Maquat, Ph.D., J. Lowell Orbison Chair and Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of Rochester Medical Center, was honored with the RNA Society's Lifetime Achievement Award in Service on Saturday, June 26 at the society's 15th annual meeting in Seattle, Washington. Maquat has been a member of the society since its formation in 1993, and has played an extremely active role, holding every elective office from director, to secretary/treasurer, to president.
March 1, 2010
Lynne Maquat Featured in ASCB Newsletter
Lynne E. Maquat, Ph.D., the Dean's Endowed Chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of Rochester Medical Center, has been featured in the March 2010 American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) Newsletter for her contributions to mRNA research. Maquat demonstrated that in mRNA, the nonsense tidied up after itself through a process called nonsense-mediated mRNA decay (NMD).
The problem goes
way back,explains Joan Steitz of Yale.
But I consider Lynne the pioneer—and it took her a number of years—in figuring out this mysterious process called nonsense-mediated mRNA decay.Nearly everyone working with mRNA realized that somehow cells can tell when a premature stop codon has been inserted into an open reading frame. Yet no one had an explanation of what happened to these nonsense proteins. According to Steitz, the big leap came when Maquat figured out that introns must leave a mark on newly synthesized mRNA. Working with Melissa Moore in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Maquat identified that mark—the exon junction complex (EJC).
The full ACSB March 2010 Newsletter can be viewed here, with Dr. Maquat's profile beginning on page 15.
April 17, 2008
In recent years, researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center have revealed the existence of a natural surveillance system called nonsense-mediated mRNA decay (NMD) that determines which mRNAs are fit to serve as protein templates and sees to the destruction of those with flaws. Researchers hope to tweak the process such that it catches more genetic errors in some cases, or leaves more templates for helpful proteins in place in others, based on the disease at hand. To do so will require a highly detailed knowledge of the NMD pathway.
The current results uncover a critical and previously unappreciated step during the natural process that finds flaws in mRNAs,said Lynne E. Maquat, Ph.D., J. Lowell Orbison Endowed Chair and professor of Biochemistry & Biophysics at University of Rochester Medical Center, director of the University of Rochester Center for RNA Biology and lead author of the Cell piece.
This work has important implications for our understanding of how one of the human cell's most important activities, protein synthesis, undergoes quality control.
March 1, 2008
Once a month, women graduate students, postdocs, and early-career faculty come together to listen to straightforward advice from accomplished scholars about important steps and critical practices to build a successful academic career. The monthly format provides regular opportunities for women in science to communicate with one another and establish relationships with peers.
The driving force behind the program is its coordinator, Lynne Maquat, Ph.D., J. Lowell Orbison Endowed Chair and Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics. Maquat offers this important advice to future faculty members:
Do things despite your fears; build a strong curriculum vita—because it is always about merit; know yourself and what your strengths are; and be pragmatic about your career—know what you want to accomplish in the next six months, twelve months, and five years and then stick to your plan.
December 1, 2006
The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world's largest federation of scientists, has elected four scientists from the University of Rochester as fellows. John Jaenike, Michael K. Tanenhaus, Lynne E. Maquat, and Henry A. Kautz were honored for the advances they've brought to their respective fields. The new fellows will be presented with a certificate at the Fellows Forum during the 2006 AAAS Annual Meeting in San Francisco on Feb. 17, 2007.
Maquat, the Dean's Endowed Chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, was nominated
for discovery and characterization of nonsense-mediated mRNA decay.Most recently her work has focused on how human cells protect themselves from constant and potentially destructive changes in gene expression through an RNA-mediated mechanism.
November 9, 2006
A drug that corrects the effects of a genetic mutation has produced encouraging results in tests on patients. The drug, PTC124, is designed to fool a patient's cells into producing a functional protein, even though that protein's gene is mutated.
Lynne Maquat, an RNA researcher at the University of Rochester, says more research is needed. But she adds that there is a real need for drugs of this sort. An antibiotic called gentamycin also causes cells to ignore mutations, but it can cause deafness and kidney failure.
June 1, 2006
Holly Kuzmiak Receives GWIS Travel and Conference Award
June 1, 2006
Lynne E. Maquat, Ph.D., the Dean's Endowed Chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of Rochester Medical Center, has been elected president of the RNA Society. The Society was formed in 1993 to encourage the sharing of experimental results and emerging concepts in ribonucleic acid research.
April 28, 2006
Two researchers, one from the University of Rochester Medical Center and another from the University of Rochester River Campus, were named as new members of the 226th class of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. Lynne E. Maquat, Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics, received the honor along with Richard Aslin, Professor of Brain and Cognitive Sciences.
Maquat was honored for decades of work that has advanced the understanding of how human cells protect themselves from constant and potentially destructive changes in gene expression. According to a recent article published in Nature Structural & Molecular Biology, the research is important because the protection itself can contribute to disease, and the ability to side-step it may lead to new treatments for hundreds of genetic disorders.
October 25, 2005
With their latest discovery, researchers have significantly advanced the understanding of how human cells protect themselves from constant and potentially destructive changes in gene expression. According to an article published in this month's Nature Structural & Molecular Biology, the research is important because the protection itself can contribute to disease, and the ability to side-step it may lead to new treatments for hundreds of genetic disorders.
Our study is important because we have determined for the first time that the mRNA-binding protein CBP80 tells the NMD system which mRNAs to review for nonsense codons,according to Lynne E. Maquat, Ph.D., professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the Medical Center, and senior author of the Nature article.
February 4, 2005
As any dedicated video game player knows, the first requirement for using a weapon or tool is finding it. And it is no different for cell biologists and clinicians who want to take control of gene expression in cells to create therapies to treat disease. While cells have a variety of ways to control gene expression, the trick for players in this game is to recognize them amidst the incredibly complex background of cellular machinery.
Now, in a paper in the January 28th issue of Cell, Lynne E. Maquat, Ph.D., professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of Rochester Medical Center, and her team, have identified a novel pathway for RNA degradation, a form of regulation that has garnered significant attention in recent years, and one that has the potential to produce a new set of tools for physicians to use to fight disease.
October 16, 2002
A scientist who studies cellular mistakes was recently honored by the James P. Wilmot Cancer Center at the University of Rochester Medical Center. Lynne E. Maquat, Ph.D., professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics, received the 2002 Davey Memorial Award for outstanding contributions to cancer research.
Maquat was honored for her research into nonsense – flawed molecular coding that results in abnormally shortened proteins and could cause harm. The flaw is oftentimes a mistake in the genetic material, DNA, or its product, RNA, which encodes instructions for making proteins. Mistakes happen routinely and are also at the root of a large percentage of diseases, including cancer.
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- RNA. A TRICK'n way to see the pioneer round of translation. Science. 347, 1316-7. (2015 Mar 20).
- Preservation of forelimb function by UPF1 gene therapy in a rat model of TDP-43-induced motor paralysis. Gene Ther. 22, 20-8. (2015 Jan 01).