Andy Berglund (PhD ’97) to talk about Myotonic Dystrophy

Professor Andy Berglund from the Institute of Molecular Biology at U. Oregon will be on campus on Wednesday, Jan. 19 to talk about Understanding Protein-RNA Interactions in Myotonic Dystrophy and a Small Molecule Approach to Target the Toxic Element in this Disease at the year’s Kaplan Lecture in the Joint Biology/Biochemistry Semester Series. Berglund received his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Brandeis in 1997, working on RNA processing, yeast splicing more specifically, in Michael Rosbash’s lab. He did a seminal piece of work for his thesis, which showed that the yeast branchpoint binding protein BBP, also known as SF1 in mammals, recognizes the yeast branchpoint sequence UACUAAC. After doing postdocs with Steve Schultz and Tom Cech at U. Colorado, Berglund assumed a faculty position at U. Oregon in 2002, where he is now an Associate Professor. His current research aims in part to understand and develop therapies for a specific form of human muscular dystrophy, which is called myotonic dystrophy. This disease is caused by expression of a toxic RNA,  which interacts with the RNA binding protein muscleblind and thereby indirectly interferes with RNA splicing. So Berglund has continued his interest in splicing, but with this more human disease focus. Indeed, his lab has identified small molecules that could potentially be used to counter these splicing defects .

The Kaplan Lecture is held annually to honor the memory of Nate Kaplan, who was the first chair of the Graduate Department of Biochemistry at Brandeis, playing a huge role in the emergence of Brandeis as a major research university. Kaplan lecturers are members of the Brandeis Biochemistry community who have gone on to distinguished research careers elsewhere. The talk will take place in Gerstenzang 121 at 4:00 pm, Brandeis community members are invited to attend.

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