Michael N. Hall Michael Hall receiving the Lasker Award.was awarded the 2017 Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award for discoveries in relation to Nutrient-activated TOR proteins that regulate cell growth.

Michael N. Hall of the Biocenter at the University of Basel discovered the nutrient-activated TOR proteins and their central role in the metabolic control of cell growth.  By showing that the TOR system adjusts cell size in response to the availability of raw materials, Michael N. Hall revealed an unanticipated linchpin of normal cell physiology. More…

Dr. Dennis KoHead Shot of Dennis Ko, PhD has been awarded the 2018 Irving S. Sigal Memorial Award. This award, sponsored by the American Society of Microbiology and Merck, recognizes and awards excellence in basic research in medical microbiology and infectious diseases. The award is presented in memory of Irving S. Sigal, who was instrumental in the early discovery of therapies to treat HIV/AIDS.

Head shot of Christine Vazquez PhD student, Christine Vazquez, was just awarded a Burroughs Wellcome Fund Graduate Diversity Enrichment Program (BWF GDEP) grant. This program provides $5,000 in funds over a two-year period to enhance the graduate student experience. The grant supports conference and workshop attendance and presentations, short course enrollment and purchase of materials and supplies related to enrichment. Congratulations, Christine!

Duke ScHeadshot of John Rawls, PhDientists Map Genomic Atlas of Your Inner Fish Gut – “Our research has uncovered aspects of intestinal biology that have been well-conserved during vertebrate evolution, suggesting they are of central importance to intestinal health,” said John F. Rawls, Ph.D., senior author of the study and associate professor of molecular genetics and microbiology at Duke University School of Medicine. “By doing so, we have built a foundation for mechanistic studies of intestinal biology in non-human model systems like fish and mice that would be impossible to perform in humans alone.” See full article here.

Headshot of Monica AlvarezResearch from the Ko lab by MGM student Monica Alvarez and colleagues has discovered a human genetic difference that protects against Salmonella invasion into host cells and risk of typhoid fever. Alvarez determined that the underlying mechanism involved regulation of levels of cellular cholesterol, which Salmonella binds during invasion. These genetic clues led to experiments with the Tobin lab demonstrating that the cholesterol-lowering drug ezetimibe (Zetia) was protective against Salmonella infection in zebrafish. The research was published in PNAS and was featured in Duke today.

Headshot of Nicholas Heaton, PhDDr. Nick Heaton interview – New Vaccine Production Could Improve Flu Shot Accuracy. Duke researchers have devised a way to keep the human influenza virus from mutating during production, generating a perfect match to the target vaccine in a shorter time frame. Their findings appear in the journal mBio. “We have solved a fundamental problem that scientists had accepted would be part of vaccine production — that the virus is always going to mutate if it is grown in eggs,” said senior study author Nicholas S. Heaton, Ph.D., assistant professor of molecular genetics and microbiology at Duke University School of Medicine. “This research could lead to a significantly cheaper and more efficacious vaccine. See full article here.

Headshot of Alejandro Aballay, PhDDr. Alejandro Aballay recruited as new chair of the Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology. Alejandro will begin his new position on September 1, 2017.  Alejandro will be an adjunct faculty member during the transition.  Congratulations, Alejandro! See full article here.


Headshot of Joe Heitman, MD, PhD

Scientists Map Sex Chromosome Evolution in Fungi. In a study appearing early online Aug. 11 in PLOS Biology, Duke researchers have mapped the evolutionary turning point that transformed the pathogenic form of Cryptococcus from an organism of many sexes to one with only two. They found that during evolution, a reshuffling of DNA known as translocation brought together separate chunks of sex-determining genes onto a single chromosome, essentially mimicking the human X or Y chromosome. Joe Heitman, MD, PhD, is interviewed in the article. See the full article here at Duke Today.

Headshot of Shannon McNultyNon-coding alpha satellite RNAs are essential for human centromere assembly and cell cycle progression. New research from Shannon McNulty, a Duke MGM graduate student in Beth Sullivan’s lab, is featured in the August 7 issue of Developmental Cell. The study reports the crucial role of chromosome-specific non-coding RNAs produced from highly repetitive alpha satellite DNA at human centromeres and their interaction with key centromere and kinetochore proteins. The work is highlighted by a Preview published in the same issue of Developmental Cell.The primary research article can be accessed here.

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