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Natural Science and Mathematics Blog

Keyword: biology

 

Ariel Wirchnianski, C’13, is part of a team of international scientists whose research on a deadly virus similar to Ebola could help save thousands of lives. The deadly fever infection is called Lassa and is found primarily in West Africa. It causes an estimated 100,000 deaths annually and in March 2014 was diagnosed in an individual in the U.S. Wirchnianski works in the virology lab at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) at Fort Detrick in Frederick, Maryland.

Wirchnianski, along with three other team members studied the way Lassa virus infects healthy cells. They discovered the virus uses a two-step process when attacking the healthy cells. Their work confirmed similar studies by scientists at the Netherlands Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School, and the University of Kiel in Germany and their findings were recently published in the prestigious journal Science.

Read full artictle: https://www.msmary.edu/about-the-mount/news-and-events/news-archive/2014/8-18-14Ariel-SciencePub.html 

Carly Lay Geronimo, a 2011 graduate from the Mount, is a rising third year graduate student in the Molecular Biology Program at Princeton University. Last June, she joined the lab of Dr. Virginia Zakian, her advisor, and is studying telomerase regulation using budding yeast as the model organism.

Recently, she received a National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship award, which provides funding for Carly Lay for three years. Over 14,000 students apply and only 2,000 students are given awards. For more information about the program visit http://www.nsfgrfp.org/).

When asked about her research, Carly Lay replied with the following statement: "For my research project, I am investigating the role of the Pif1 DNA helicase as a negative regulator of telomerase using the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae as the model organism. Telomerase is a specialized enzyme whose essential function is to maintain telomeres, which are the physical ends of eukaryotic chromosomes. In cells that lack telomerase activity, telomeres progressively shorten with each round of DNA replication, and when the telomere reaches a critical length, most cells senesce and die. Thus, telomerase regulation is imperative for proper maintenance of the cell because misregulation can lead to replicative senescense, apoptosis, and compromised genome integrity. Pif1 is an important negative regulator of telomere length because Pif1 is the only helicase in yeast that has been shown to directly and catalytically inhibit telomerase. Therefore, the main objectives of my research project are to determine how Pif1 gets recruited to telomeres and to elucidate the mechanism behind Pif1 inhibition of telomerase."

We congratulate Carly Lay on this prestigious award and we expect many great things from her in the future!

Four Mount professors have teamed up to demonstrate one successful approach in a new article in the Journal of Microbiology and Biology Education. The article, "Inquiry-Based Learning: Inflammation as a Model to Teach Molecular Techniques for Assessing Gene Expression," was authored by Science Department faculty Drs. Kathryn (Gunn) Dye, Christine Seitz McCauslin, Jennifer Staiger, and Dana (Pirone) Ward. The article describes a successful approach to teaching molecular biology laboratory techniques.

Dr. Katy Dye comments on the article and successful collaboration with her colleagues, "This article is the result of great collaboration. Dana Ward, Jen Staiger, Christine McCauslin, and I have worked hard the last several years to make our annual summer biotechnology course a success, and we wanted to share the curriculum that we developed with other biology educators. We're excited to see it published, and we're already planning our next article! Work is enjoyable when you have great colleagues."

 
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