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Suzanne Haber a Panelist on Second Opinion episode “Obsessive Compulsive Disorder”

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Professor Suzanne Haber was a featured panelist on Public Access Television's Second Opinion. The episode “Obsessive Compulsive Disorder” will be released to over 250 public television stations nation-wide on Monday, December 11th. This episode will air locally on WXXI on Thursday, December 21st at 8:30pm and can also be watched below.

Read More: Suzanne Haber a Panelist on Second Opinion episode “Obsessive Compulsive Disorder”

Reversing Retinal Degenerative Diseases: We're One Step Closer

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Degenerative disorders affecting the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), such as age-related macular degeneration and autosomal recessive bestrophinopathy, can ultimately lead to blindness. Some of these life-changing disorders are the result of mutations in a single gene, called BEST1.

Although the genetic defect in BEST1 was identified almost two decades ago, its physiological role—how it does what it does, was unclear. Now, researchers from Columbia University and University of Rochester have used a novel approach to solve this mystery. Today, they published their pioneering study in the journal eLife

The researchers created a “disease-in-a-dish,” meaning that they coaxed skin cells taken from an adult patient first back into an embryonic-like state (called induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPSCs) and then into RPE cells to create a model of retinal degenerative disease. Then they assessed physiological properties of the RPE cells carrying normal or mutated BEST1 via innovative, interdisciplinary approaches to pinpoint the exact role of the BEST1 gene.

The researchers were also able to show that RPE cells that carry the BEST1 gene mutations, which are the same cells that are damaged by degenerative diseases, can have their damage reversed by providing healthy copies of the BEST1 gene (through viral gene supplementation, which uses a specially selected virus to “carry” new genes into the cells).

“Our team provided evidence that autosomal recessive bestrophinopathy is a ‘chloride channelopathy’ and is a treatable disorder,” said RPB Physician-Scientist Awardee Stephen H. Tsang, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Ophthalmology and Associate Professor of Pathology and Cell Biology at Columbia University, and Tingting Yang, PhD, Assistant Professor of Pharmacology and Physiology at University of Rochester.

Read More: Reversing Retinal Degenerative Diseases: We're One Step Closer

Emma Grygotis wins Outstanding Student Mentor Award

Friday, October 20, 2017

Emma Grygotis

Emma Grygotis, a student in the Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology and Physiology PhD Program was selected by SMD faculty to be this year’s recipient of the Outstanding Student Mentor Award. Her selection was based on her contributions to mentoring, leadership, science advocacy, and community outreach.

Emma is currently working in the laboratory of Dr. Denise Hocking, whose laboratory research focuses on understanding the mechanisms by which the extracellular matrix protein, fibronectin, affects cell and tissue functions that are critical for wound repair. Emma's thesis project specifically investigates the mechanisms by which the structure and function of extracellular matrix proteins collagen and fibronectin can be altered by ultrasound for tissue engineering applications.

The award was presented to Emma at the School of Medicine and Dentistry Convocation Ceremony, along with a monetary prize of $500.

Center for Oral Biology Lands Third Training Grant from NIDCR

Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Center for Oral Biology within UR Medicine’s Eastman Institute for Oral Health has been awarded $2.9 million to expand its renowned training program for oral biologists and dentist-scientists. This award includes Research Training and Research Education grants from the National Institute for Dental and Craniofacial Research, part of the National Institutes of Health.

Awarded to COB for the third time, the latest five-year grant stems from a successful collaboration between the Center for Oral Biology, and the School of Medicine and Dentistry’s departments of Pharmacology and Physiology, Microbiology & Immunology, Biomedical Genetics, Dentistry, Medicine and Dermatology.

Dr. Quivey with studentRobert Quivey, PhD, director, Center for Oral Biology, credits the renewal to the overwhelming success of the last 10 years.

“During that time, we supported nearly 90 trainees. Those included pre-docs --those who were pursuing their PhD’s, and post-docs, who were receiving additional training beyond their PhD or dental degree,” he explained. “Those trainees published 167 papers as first author, and 188 papers were published that included two or more trainees as co-authors.”

In addition, nearly all of them are still in science or science-related jobs, which supports one of NIDCR’s major goals: to ensure a highly qualified workforce is available to address the nation’s basic and clinical biomedical and behavioral or social sciences research agenda. As part of this goal, NIDCR seeks to support an ample and diverse pipeline of well-trained and highly competent investigators through a variety of flexible and innovative research training and career development programs. These programs are intended to recruit and retain experts with the appropriate skills to conduct oral health research in an increasingly complex environment. 

Dr. Hsu with traineeThe grant supports students in a wide range of biomedical specialties, including biochemical mechanisms of disease, the origins of bacterial pathogenesis, the search for new medicines and other therapeutic approaches to treat disease, and new, fundamental knowledge in human immunology, and work in the etiology and progression of cancers.  

At a time when NIH funding has been restricted to research and training, this renewal is especially meaningful.

“Thanks to Dr. Quivey’s leadership, we’ve demonstrated our capability to train people to an advanced level through didactic and research work, by developing students’ critical thinking, and building strong presentation and writing skills,” said Eli Eliav, DMD, PhD, director, Eastman Institute for Oral Health and vice dean for Oral Health at the School of Medicine and Dentistry. “We’re delighted NIDCR recognizes that we value team science, transformative approaches and diversity at all levels.”

Read More: Center for Oral Biology Lands Third Training Grant from NIDCR

Edward Ayoub Awarded Scholarship to ESH International Conference

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Edward Ayoub Edward Ayoub, a 4th year student in the Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology and Physiology Program in the lab of Archibald Perkins has been awarded a scholarship to attend the ESH International Conference on AML "Molecular and Translational": Advances in Biology and Treatment.

For more information on the conference, please visit the European School of Hematology Website

Perkins / Zhang Lab

Pharmacology Graduate Student Nick Nobiletti Explains CRISPR Gene Editing on YouTube

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

It’s no secret: URMC is home to extraordinary scientific innovations and research.

Our UR Broadening Experiences in Scientific Training (URBEST) program and our Public Relations and Communications office teamed up to offer our students and trainees the chance to highlight our research through original visuals and videos. Four videos earned prizes for their unique science storytelling and will be featured on our intranet site and the UR Medicine Facebook page throughout the month in an ongoing series called "UR Science ROCs."

What is CRISPR?

Fourth-year graduate students Chris Goodwin and Sierra Fox, and third-year graduate student Nick Nobiletti, talk about CRISPR and how it’s helping scientists edit DNA.

Goodwin is a student in the lab of Joshua Munger, Ph.D.(Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics); Fox is a student in the lab of Michael Bulger, Ph.D.(Departments of Biochemistry and Biophysics and Pediatrics); and Nobiletti is a student in the lab of Angela Glading, Ph.D. (Department of Pharmacology and Physiology).

Scientist Investigates Muscle Loss among Children with Cancer

Thursday, August 3, 2017

University of Rochester Medical Center researcher received $1.7 million to study and potentially treat the muscle loss that often plagues childhood cancer survivors as they age.

The five-year grant to Joe V. Chakkalakal, Ph.D., assistant professor of Orthopaedics, is a result of a collaboration and seed funding from the Wilmot Cancer Institute, which allowed him to generate the data to obtain the larger grant from the National Cancer Institute.

Chakkalakal studies muscle stem cells in connection with skeletal muscle decline. Young cancer patients who undergo radiation therapy sometimes experience sarcopenia, the accelerated loss of lean body muscle tissue and strength. Sarcopenia-related muscle atrophy is associated with muscle stem cell loss and chronic, low-grade inflammation.

The new investigation will try to determine if childhood radiation treatments destroy muscle stem cells and thereby impair the young musculoskeletal system as it tries to mature properly. In addition, Chakkalakal is studying the factors that accelerate sarcopenia and how to prevent the systematic loss of muscle stem cells and skeletal decline caused by radiation. 

Read More: Scientist Investigates Muscle Loss among Children with Cancer

Houhui Xia appointed Paul Stark Professor in Pharmacology

Friday, July 7, 2017

Houhui Xia, associate professor of pharmacology and physiology and neuroscience, was jointly appointed the Paul Stark Professor in Pharmacology for the period from October 21, 2016 through June 30, 2021.

Xia’s research focuses on molecular and signaling mechanisms of synaptic plasticity in memory formation and mental health. He has received grants from the National Institute of Mental Health and the National Science Foundation, and has published in the Journal of Cell Biology, the Journal of Neuroscience, and the Journal of Neurochemistry.

After receiving a BS in physics from Peking University and an MS in physics from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, Xia earned a PhD in molecular biology and cell biology from the University of California, San Francisco.

Read More: Houhui Xia appointed Paul Stark Professor in Pharmacology

Si Chen, Awarded Two-year American Heart Association Predoctoral Fellowship

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Si Chen, graduate student in the laboratory of Dr. Chen Yan was awarded a two-year American Heart Association predoctoral fellowship entitled, “The Role of PDE10A in Pathological Cardiac Remodeling and Dysfunction” beginning July 1, 2017.

Project Summary

Heart failure is a leading cause of death in the United States, and is associated with significant myocardial deterioration, including hypertrophy, fibrosis and cell death, as well as contractile dysfunction and ventricular arrhythmia. There is a high demand to identify novel therapeutic targets involved in pathological cardiac remodeling and dysfunction. The objective of this project is to investigate the regulation and function of the cyclic nucleotide phosphodiesterase 10A (PDE10A) isoform in the progression of cardiac remodeling and heart failure. PDE10A primarily hydrolyzes cAMP, and under normal conditions, displays enriched expression in the striatum of the brain. Our preliminary data demonstrate that PDE10A expression is upregulated in failing mouse and human hearts. Global deficiency of PDE10A attenuates global cardiac hypertrophy and fibrosis induced by chronic Ang II infusion. In vitro studies also indicate that PDE10A inhibitor treatment reduces cardiac myocyte hypertrophy and fibroblast activation. In the brain, PDE10A primarily regulates dopamine receptor (DR)-derived cAMP. Based on these facts, we hypothesize that PDE10A plays an essential role in cardiac hypertrophy, fibrosis, and dysfunction by antagonizing cAMP/cAMP-dependent protein kinase (PKA) signaling in myocytes and cAMP/exchange factor directly activated by cAMP (Epac) signaling in fibroblasts. To test our hypothesis we propose the following two aims:

  • Aim1: Evaluate the role of PDE10A on pathological cardiac remodeling and dysfunction in vivo using genetic and pharmacological approaches.
  • Aim2: Determine the roles and underlying mechanisms of PDE10A in the regulation of cardiac myocyte and fibroblast function in vitro.

Video of 3 Minute Thesis Event

Thursday, June 8, 2017

We have the video of the full event with all presentations fully captions and with the slides running in time with the videos.

3MT Presenters, Programs & Topics

Thesis presentations in order

  • Stephanie Carpenter (Chemistry) - Solving the Mystery of Iron Chemistry
  • Sarah Catheline (Pathways of Human Disease) - Inhibiting Inflammaging to Treat Osteoarthritis(OA)
  • Scott Friedland (Genetics, Development & Stem Cells) - Pancreatic Cancer and the Tale of the Broken Librarian
  • Claire McCarthy (Toxicology) - Investigating the Toxicological Effects of Dung Biomass Smoke Exposure
  • Taylor Moon (Immunology, Microbiology and Virology) - The New Epidemic
  • Thuy-Vy Nguyen (Social-Personality Psychology) - Solitude *Winner*
  • Manisha Taya (Cellular & Molecular Pharmacology and Physiology) - Understanding Lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM): The “Other” Steroid-Dependent Cancer From Bed-Side to Bench and Back Again
  • Janelle Veazey (Immunology, Microbiology and Virology) - Role of Protein Kinase D in Epithelial Cells During Respiratory Infection

Full 3MT 2017 Event Video (CC)

Loss of muscle stem cells is the main driving force behind muscle decline in old age in mice

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

University of Rochester Medical Center researchers have discovered that loss of muscle stem cells is the main driving force behind muscle decline in old age in mice. Their finding challenges the current prevailing theory that age-related muscle decline is primarily caused by loss of motor neurons. Study authors hope to develop a drug or therapy that can slow muscle stem cell loss and muscle decline in the future.

As early as your mid 30s, the size and strength of your muscles begins to decline. The changes are subtle to start – activities that once came easily are not so easy now – but by your 70s or 80s, this decline can leave you frail and reliant on others even for simple daily tasks.  While the speed of decline varies from person to person and may be slowed by diet and exercise, virtually no one completely escapes the decline.

“Even an elite trained athlete, who has high absolute muscle strength will still experience a decline with age,” said study author Joe Chakkalakal, Ph.D., assistant professor of Orthopaedics in the Center for Musculoskeletal Research at URMC.

Even an elite trained athlete will experience muscle decline with age.

Chakkalakal has been investigating exactly how muscle loss occurs in aging mice in order to figure out how humans might avoid it.

In a study, published today in eLife, Chakkalakal and lead author Wenxuan Liu, Ph.D., recent graduate of the Biomedical Genetics Department at URMC, define a new role for stem cells in the life long maintenance of muscle. All adults have a pool of stem cells that reside in muscle tissue that respond to exercise or injury – pumping out new muscle cells to repair or grow your muscles. While it was already known that muscle stem cells die off as you age, Chakkalakal’s study is the first to suggest that this is the main driving factor behind muscle loss.

Read More: Loss of muscle stem cells is the main driving force behind muscle decline in old age in mice

Stem Cells May Be the Key to Staying Strong in Old Age

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

University of Rochester Medical Center researchers have discovered that loss of muscle stem cells is the main driving force behind muscle decline in old age in mice. Their finding challenges the current prevailing theory that age-related muscle decline is primarily caused by loss of motor neurons. Study authors hope to develop a drug or therapy that can slow muscle stem cell loss and muscle decline in the future.

As early as your mid 30s, the size and strength of your muscles begins to decline. The changes are subtle to start - activities that once came easily are not so easy now – but by your 70s or 80s, this decline can leave you frail and reliant on others even for simple daily tasks.  While the speed of decline varies from person to person and may be slowed by diet and exercise, virtually no one completely escapes the decline.

“Even an elite trained athlete, who has high absolute muscle strength will still experience a decline with age,” said study author Joe Chakkalakal, Ph.D., assistant professor of Orthopaedics in the Center for Musculoskeletal Research at URMC.

Chakkalakal has been investigating exactly how muscle loss occurs in aging mice in order to figure out how humans might avoid it.    

In a study, published today in eLife, Chakkalakal and lead author Wenxuan Liu, Ph.D., recent graduate of the Biomedical Genetics Department at URMC, define a new role for stem cells in the life long maintenance of muscle. All adults have a pool of stem cells that reside in muscle tissue that respond to exercise or injury – pumping out new muscle cells to repair or grow your muscles. While it was already known that muscle stem cells die off as you age, Chakkalakal’s study is the first to suggest that this is the main driving factor behind muscle loss.

To better understand the role of stem cells in age-related muscle decline, Chakkalakal and his team depleted muscle stem cells in mice without disrupting motor neurons, nerve cells that control muscle. The loss of stem cells sped up muscle decline in the mice, starting in middle, rather than old age. Mice that were genetically altered to prevent muscle stem cell loss maintained healthier muscles at older ages than age-matched control mice.

Read More: Stem Cells May Be the Key to Staying Strong in Old Age

Papasergi-Scott, Taya, and Wang Win Awards at the GSS Annual Poster Session Competition

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Congratulations to the following students who won awards at the Graduate Student Society Annual Poster Session Competition held on May 6, 2016.

Makaía M. Papasergi-Scott, working in the laboratories of Dr. Gregory G. Tall and Dr. Robert Freeman, was awarded 1st Place and received a $500 travel reward for her poster titled “Phosphorylation of Ga Chaperone Ric-8A Regulates its Function”.

Manisha Taya working in the laboratory of Dr. Stephen R. Hammes, and Xiaowen Wang working in the laboratory of Dr. Mark D. Noble, tied for 3rd place and received $100 travel grants for their posters titled “The Role of Estrogen and Glycoprotein-NMB in Lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM) Progression” and “Identifying c-Cbl as a Critical Point of Intervention in Acquired Tamoxifen Resistant Breast Cancer”, respectively. 

Stoveken Receives Wallace O. Fenn Award at Commencement 2017

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Hannah Stoveken With Gregory TallHannah Stoveken, a graduate from the Laboratory of Dr. Gregory G. Tall, received the Wallace O. Fenn Award at Commencement 2017 for her thesis titled “Activation of Adhesion G Protein-coupled Receptors by a Tethered Agonist: Mechanism of Action and Pharmacological Modulation”.

The Wallace O. Fenn Award is given annually to a graduating student judged to have performed especially meritorious research and who presented a Ph.D. thesis suitable to honor the name of Dr. Fenn, a Professor of Physiology at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry from 1924 to 1961.

Taya wins Knockout Rounds at ENDO 2017 and Finalist in UofR Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) Competition

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Manisha Taya, graduate student in the Hammes Lab, won the People's Choice First Place Award in the Knockout Rounds competition at the annual ENDO 2017 conference, held April 1-4, for her presentation of her research on lymphangioleiomyomatosis. View a video featuring interviews with the winners.

Taya was also a finalist in The University of Rochester Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) Competition held on Thursday May 11, 2017. 3MT is an academic competition that challenges PhD students and postdoctoral appointees to describe their research within three minutes to a general audience.

Science, Technology, and Culture – a multidisciplinary reading group

Friday, May 12, 2017

How is science shaped by the culture that surrounds it? How do technological innovations change society? A new group would like to bring together people from all parts of the University community to reflect on these questions through shared reading and group discussion.

The group’s first selection is When Breath Becomes Air, the memoir of Paul Kalanithi — a neurosurgeon whose diagnosis with terminal lung cancer at the end of his residency drives him to examine the brain, the mind, and what makes us human.

The group will meet at 5 p.m. Wednesday, June 14 in the new Humanities Center (located in Rush Rhees Library) for snacks, conversation, and to choose the next read.

(If you are unable to attend, but are interested or would like to participate in future meetings, email Emma Grygotis)