Undergraduate Biology Lab Students All Get Cataracts

After a series of renovations and modifications, the fall semester of introductory biology (Biol18b) is now an 11 week project-based lab course focused on Molecular and Structural Biology.  Students in the course now design their own mutant of γD crystallin (a human protein implicated in congenital and age-onset cataractogenesis) using site-directed mutagenesis, purify and express their protein, and then study its stability using fluorescence and AFM.

A new paper in CBE – Life Sciences Education by Brandeis undergraduates Dan Treacy, Rebecca Miller, Stefan Isaac, Danielle Saly, and Saumya Sankaran, together with grad student Susannah Gordon-Messer and Assistant Professor of Biology Melissa Kosinski-Collins,  discusses a two-year study focused on assessing both student perception of the course and analyzing the levels conceptual understanding and knowledge retention of participants.  This paper marks the second in a series of articles highlighting studies performed by life science undergraduates enrolled in an educational internship course (Ed92a) with Kosinski-Collins.

What we can learn about aging from worms

Coleen Murphy from the Dept of Molecular Biology at Princeton will tell us about “Slowing the Ticking Clock: What we can learn about aging and memory from C. elegans at the first Ruth Ann and Nathan Perlmutter Science Forum on Wednesday, March 9 at 4:00 pm in Gerstenzang 121. The focus of her research is on understanding the genes that regulate longevity, using C. elegans as a model system. Coleen performed her Ph.D. thesis research with Jim Spudich at Stanford where she studied myosin motors and then went on to  a post doctoral fellowship with Cynthia Kenyon at UCSF where she began studying aging. Since starting her own lab at Princeton, Coleen has been the recipient of numerous prestigious awards including a Pew Scholar Award, a Keck Distinguished Young Scholar Award, and an NIH Director’s Innovator Award. Her lab’s most recent work showed that TGF-β and insulin signaling regulates reproductive aging. In addition, her lab has also recently been looking into the connection between longevity mutants and memory in C. elegans

About the Forum: Ruth Ann Perlmutter has been a longtime friend of Brandeis University. In 1969, Nathan Perlmutter became vice president of development at Brandeis during the presidency of Morris Abrams. Perlmutter left Brandeis to become the National Director of the Anti Defamation League. Together the Perlmutters were leaders in the interfaith movement and civil rights debates for which activities Nathan received the Presidential Medal of Freedom shortly before his death in 1987. Mrs. Perlmutter earned her B.A. from the University of Denver and her masters degree in sociology from Wayne State University in Detroit. She is a sculptor and painter in her own right and currently lives in Prescott, Arizona.

Allis, Grunstein to receive 2011 Rosenstiel Award

The 2011 recipients of the Lewis S. Rosenstiel Award for Distinguished Work in Basic Medical Science are C. David Allis (Rockefeller Univ.) and Michael Grunstein (UCLA) for their discovery that histones and histone acetylation directly regulate transcription.  There will be lectures and an award ceremony at Brandeis University on April 14, 2011 at 3:30 pm in the Carl J. Shapiro Theater, Shapiro Campus Center

C. David Allis
(Tri-Institutional Professor, Joy and Jack Fishman Professor, Laboratory of Chromatin Biology and Epigenetics, The Rockefeller University)

Beyond the Double Helix: Varying the ‘Histone Code’
Michael Grunstein
(Distinguished Professor , Department of Biological Chemistry , University of California, Los Angeles )
Towards histone function

A reception will follow in the Shapiro Science Center Atrium for all attendees of the talk, from roughly 5:30 until 7 pm.

For more information, see Brandeis NOW and the Rosenstiel Award website.

Finding novel antibiotics in dirt using unculturable bacteria

Sean Brady from The Rockefeller University will be visiting campus to lecture on Culture Independent Approaches for the Discovery of New Bacterial Metabolites as part of the Joint Biology/Biochemistry Colloquium Series, Wednesday, Oct 13, at 4:00 pm in Gestenzang 121.

Sean’s research centers on the discovery, biosynthesis and characterization of new, genetically encoded small molecules from microbial sources, with a special focus on soil bacteria and pathogenic bacteria. One area of particular interest is the development of methods to access new biologically active small molecules from bacteria that cannot be grown in culture. Soil bacteria that can’t yet be cultured outnumber those that have been by orders of magnitude, and provide a huge pool of genetic diversity that can be searched for novel useful natural products.

Sean is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Early Career Scientist. He was named a Searle Scholar, an Irma T. Hirschl Scholar, an Alexandrine and Alexander L. Sinsheimer Scholar and an Arnold and Mabel Beckman Young Investigator.

Postdoctoral position: functional organization of cilia and flagella using molecular genetic approaches

A postdoctoral position is immediately available in the laboratory of Dr. Nicastro at Brandeis University to study the functional organization of cilia and flagella using molecular genetic approaches.

Our lab has in the past mainly been focused on high-resolution structural studies of these highly conserved organelles and defects in mutants, as well as the cytoskeleton and molecular motor in general. One of our long-term goals is to better understand ciliary diseases and identify therapeutic targets. Recently we have expanded our expertise in biochemistry and we are now seeking to complement our highly interactive team with an expert in genetics.

Applicants should have a PhD degree, a strong background in molecular biology/genetic techniques, and an edge for technology development. Responsibilities will include the establishment of a new model organism optimized for reverse genetics to target complexes in cilia and flagella. Familiarity with RNAi and one of the following model organisms is a plus, but not required: Chlamydomonas or Tetrahymena or Planaria. The candidate should be team-oriented and have excellent oral and written communication skills.
The position is available April 1st for up to three years with the possibility of extension. Interested candidates should send an application, including a CV, areas of expertise and interest, publications list, and names and contact information for 3 references to:

Dr. Daniela Nicastro
MS 029
Rosenstiel Center
Brandeis University
415 South Street
Waltham, MA 02454, USA.

The Nicastro Lab is located in the well-equipped and vibrant Biology Department of Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts (eight miles west of Boston). Brandeis has a state-of-the-art electron microscopy facility, a newly implemented facility for Correlative Light and Electron Microscopy and an extensive computational facility. Life Science Research is highly collaborative and interdisciplinary at Brandeis, and offers excellent opportunities for scientific interaction on campus and other scientific institutions in the Boston area. Brandeis University is committed to diversity and equality in education and employment.

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