Faculty Research

Currently, the CCGS has nine principal faculty members pursuing multidisciplinary research in Biology, Physics and Chemistry. See below for faculty research statements and a sample publication.

Markus Babst, Associate Professor of Biology

Research in the Babst laboratory focuses on the trafficking of transmembrane proteins in the endosomal system of eukaryotic cells, with particular interest in the mechanisms by which cellular physiology is affecting these protein trafficking routes.

Jones, C.B., E.M. Ott, J.M. Keener, M. Curtiss, V. Sandrin and M. Babst (2012) Regulation of protein degradation by starvation-response pathways. Traffic, in press.

Richard Clark, Assistant Professor of Biology

Research in the Clark laboratory seeks a molecular-genetic understanding of the causes and consequences of genetic variation, primarily using the reference plant, Arabidopsis thaliana.

Gan, X., O. Stegle, J. Behr, J.G. Steffen, P. Drewe, K.L. Hildebrand, R. Lyngsoe, S.J. Schultheiss, E.J. Osborne, V.T. Sreedharan, A. Kahles, R. Bohnert, G. Jean, P. Derwent, P. Kersey, E. Belfield, N. Harberd, E. Kemen, P. Kover, C. Toomajian, R.M. Clark, M. Rätsch and R, Mott (2011) Multiple reference genomes and transcriptomes for Arabidopsis thaliana. Nature 477:419-23.

Jennifer Heemstra, Assistant Professor of Chemistry

Research in the Heemstra laboratory addresses basic scientific questions regarding the nature of interactions between nucleic acids, proteins, and small molecules, and uses this knowledge for development of new technologies in biosensing, cellular imaging and molecular diagnostics.

Sharma, A.K. and J.M. Heemstra (2011) Small molecule-dependent split aptamer ligation. J Am Chem Soc 133:12426-29.

Julie Hollien, Assistant Professor of Biology

The overall goal of the Hollien laboratory is to understand the mechanisms controlling mRNA turnover and the relationships between mRNA stability, localization, and cellular stress pathways, currently focusing on how cells employ mRNA decay in regulating endoplasmic reticulum (ER) function.

Hollien, J., J.H. Lin, H. Li, N. Stevens, P. Walter and J.S. Weissman (2009) Regulated Ire1-dependent decay of messenger RNAs in mammalian cells. J Cell Biol 186:323-31.

Haitao (Mark) Ji, Assistant Professor of Chemistry

Research in the Ji laboratory is focused on structure-based design and synthesis of small molecules that can modulate cellular signaling pathways with an emphasis on protein-protein interactions and target specificity.

Ji, H.; B.Z. Stanton, J. Igarashi, H. Li, Li, P. Martásek, L.J. Roman, T.L. Poulos, R.B. Silverman (2008) Minimal pharmacophoric elements and fragment hopping, an approach directed at molecular diversity and isozyme selectivity. Design of selective neuronal nitric oxide synthase inhibitors.  J Am Chem Soc 130:3900-14.

Erik Jorgensen, Professor of Biology, Investigator/HHMI

The Jorgensen laboratory is working to identify the proteins that function at the synapse to release and recycle synaptic vesicles by undertaking a genetic analysis of neurotransmission in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans.

Hobson, R.J., Q. Liu, S. Watanabe and E.M. Jorgensen (2011) Complexin maintains vesicles in the primed state in C. elegans. Curr Biol 21:106-13.

Andres Villu Maricq, Professor of Biology, Director

Research in the Maricq laboratory focuses on gaining a mechanistic understanding of the assembly, localization and function of neurotransmitter receptors and how these receptors and their auxiliary subunits contribute to synaptic plasticity, learning and memory.

Jensen, M., F.J. Hoerndli, P.J. Brockie, R. Wang, E. Johnson, D. Maxfield, M.M. Francis, D.M. Madsen and A.V. Maricq (2012) Wnt signaling regulates acetylcholine receptor translocation and synaptic plasticity in the adult nervous system. Cell, in press.

Saveez Saffarian, Assistant Professor of Physics

Research in the Saffarian laboratory is focused on understanding the molecular mechanism of enveloped virus budding. Specifically the lab is interested in HIV and VSV as model systems for RNA viruses. The packaging of the RNA genome during budding as well as the interactions of the viral structural proteins with members of the cellular ESCRT is of fundamental interest for the lab.

Thiery J., D. Keefe, S. Saffarian, D. Martinvalet, M. Walch, E. Boucrot, T. Kirchhausen and J. Lieberman (2010) Perforin activates clathrin- and  dynamin-dependent endocytosis, which is required for plasma membrane repair and delivery of granzyme B for granzyme-mediated apoptosis. Blood 115:1582-93.

Michael Vershinin, Assistant Professor of Physics

The Vershinin laboratory studies molecular motors using optical trapping and single molecule experiments.

McKenney, R.J.†, M. Vershinin†, A. Kunwar, R.B. Vallee‡ and S.P. Gross‡ (2010) LIS1 and NudE induce a persistent dynein force-producing state. Cell 141:304-14.

co-primary authors. ‡co-senior authors.