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.

Non-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.


Al Harding (Heaton Lab) – A feature on Al’s work was just published on DukeTODAY! It describes how our technology can be used to produce improved influenza virus vaccines.


Ristaino receives a Fullbright Award.  Jean Ristaino, William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor at North Carolina State University in the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology received a Fullbright U.S. Research Scholar Award. Jean conducted sabbatical studies in the Heitman lab and is continuing to collaborate with Francis Fang in the Heitman lab on oomycete pathogens of plants. Read more here.

Rawls and Davison feature in Duke today. John Rawls, PhD, Associate Professor and James Davison, Graduate Student in the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology recent publication, “Microbiota regulate intestinal epithelial gene expression by suppressing the transcription factor Hepatocyte nuclear factor 4 alpha” was featured in Duke today. Read more  here.

Tobin receives 2017-2018 Thomas Langford Lectureship AwardDavid Tobin, PhD, Associate Professor of MGM will present a lecture about his research at the annual Langford Lectureship series. This luncheon series was designed to provide Duke’s faculty with an opportunity to hear about ongoing scholarly activities of recently promoted or hired colleagues. Congratulations, David!


Horner receives ASV award. Stacy Horner, PhD, Assistant Professor in the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology received the Ann Palmenberg Junior Investigator Award from the American Society for Virology at the 2017 annual meeting in Madison, and presented a talk in conjunction with receiving the award.  This award recognizes junior investigators who have made significant contributions to the field of virology and who display exceptional promise. The award is named in honor of former ASV president Dr. Ann Palmenberg, University of Wisconsin-Madison, for her tireless efforts over several decades in supporting and continually improving our society’s annual meeting.  Stacy and her lab members have launched an exciting research program on mechanisms of innate immunity that defend against viral infection, and in parallel launched a highly successful pioneering program studying the impact of the modification of the N6 position of adenine by methylation on both viral and host RNA, studies that have resulted in a landmark publication in Cell Host and Microbe and featured on the cover (Gokhale et al CHM 2016) and a recent PLOS Pearls on this topic (Gokhale and Horner, PLOS Pathogens 2017).  These later studies contribute to the rapidly growing, emerging field of epitranscriptomics.  Congratulations, Stacy!

Aballay receives an NIH R37 Merit Award. Alejandro Aballay, PhD, Professor in the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology and Director of the Center for Host Microbial Interactions at Duke University, will be receiving an NIH MERIT Award from NIGMS for his research project on the role of the nervous system in controlling immunity in the model host C. elegans. More…

Horner named a Burroughs Wellcome Investigator.  Stacy Horner, PhD was awarded the Burroughs Wellcome 2017 Investigators in the Pathogenesis of Infectious Diseases award. The Investigators in the Pathogenesis of Infectious Disease program provides opportunities for assistant professors to bring multidisciplinary approaches to the study of human infectious diseases. The goal of the program is to provide opportunities for accomplished investigators still early in their careers to study what happens at the points where the systems of humans and potentially infectious agents connect.  Read more about this prestigious award on the Burroughs Wellcome website.  Congratulations, Stacy!

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