Weeks Lab News!
Collaborative Project on Liquid-liquid Phase Separation Highlight
12 April 18 — A collaborative project with Amy Gladfelter and Erin Langdon was recently published in Science. Amy’s lab has been making major strides in undertanding how cells organize themselves using liquid-liquid phase separation. It turns out that some phases form with high component selectivity via interactions mediated by RNA! Science College_article
Mark Boerneke Receives NIH Postdoctoral Fellowship
11 April 18 — Mark received a highly competitive NIH Fellowship to support his work directed toward understanding higher-order and tertiary interactions in RNA viruses.
Collaborative Project with Novartis Published in Cell and Highlighted by C&E News
21 March 18 — Work from our lab and carried out with collaborators from Novartis used SHAPE-MaP probing to characterize mRNA structures in living cells. Overall, the work shows that RNA structure plays a pervasive role in regulating gene expression and has been highlighted by Chemical & Engineering News, in an article that emphasizes the potential translational impacts of the UNC research. Cell C&EN
Weeks Lab Translational Technologies Discussed by Innovate Carolina
9 March 18 — Work from our lab that has led to the successful launch of new a North Carolina Startup company — Ribometrix — is covered in a “Startup Story”. The article outlines the important role of blending academic research and practical applications and the special role of the Carolina KickStart Ventures in helping to get Ribometrix started. link
Weeks Lab Research Featured in Nature Reviews Drug Discovery
28 November 17 — Work form our lab has been highlighted in another article, this one in Nature Reviews Drug Discovery: “Small molecules against RNA targets attract big backers.” The NRDD article specifically focuses on technology from our lab that makes it possible to find motifs in RNA that form more complex structures, and are more likely to form unique structures that might be targetable by drugs. link
Chemical & Engineering News Article on RNA Drugs
27 November 17 — Research from the Weeks lab and the perspective of Dr. Weeks are featured in a recent article on “The RNA Drug Hunters”. link
Chase Weidmann Receives American Cancer Society Postdoctoral Fellowship
1 July 17 — Chase received a highly competitive ACS Fellowship to support his work directed toward “Uncovering Interaction Networks in the Xist Long Non-Coding RNA”.
Tony Mustoe Presents Seminar at RNA Society Conference
1 June 17 — Tony presented his project “Pervasive Regulatory Functions of mRNA Structure Revealed by High-resolution SHAPE Probing” at the RNA Society Conference in Prague, Czech Republic. This work was a collaboration with Steve Busan and Gregg Rice in the lab, along with researchers at the Novartis Biomedical Research Institute in Boston.
Weeks Lab Research Featured in Nature Medicine
1 May 17 — Translational research made possible by technology developed in our lab has been highlighted in a recent article in Nature Medicine. The article describes how our work is making it possible to discover novel structures in therapeutically relevant RNA molecules, opening up new opportunities for creating RNA-targeted drugs. link
Chase Weidman Receives Lineberger Postdoctoral Fellowship
12 June 16 — Chase received a Lineberger Postdoctoral Fellowship to support his research on the structure of long non-coding RNAs and their roles in cancer.
Tony Mustoe Presents at EMBO Conference
12 June 16 — Tony was selected and presented his collaborative work on the structure of the E. coli transcriptome at the EMBO workshop “RNA Structure Meets Function” in Stockholm, Sweden.
Matt Smola Receives Best Poster Award at the Symposium on RNA Biology: RNA Tool & Target
16 October 15 — Matt presented his work on long non-coding RNAs at the Symposium on RNA Biology, held biennially in North Carolina. Matt won one of the best poster awards!
Tony Mustoe Named Arnold O. Beckman Postdoctoral Fellow
1 Jul 15 — Tony Mustoe has been awarded an Arnold O. Beckman Postdoctoral Fellowship, which are awarded to scholars judged to have the highest potential for success in an independent academic career in chemistry and the life sciences. Tony’s research focuses on developing new chemical and bioinformatics technologies to study the structural dynamics of RNA molecules in living cells. By providing a high-resolution window into RNAs previously outside the limits of experimental characterization, these technologies will facilitate new understanding of how human mRNAs regulate gene expression and associated diseases.
Amanda Carew Receives SURF Fellowship
1 Jun 15 — Amanda Carew was awarded a highly competitive Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF), which supports her work developing new approaches for following the structure of a model virus. Her work holds significant promise for understanding many classes of infectious viruses. Amanda is a student-scientist in the Undergraduate Transcriptome Project.
Gregg Rice Selected as UNC Graduate School Impact Fellow
1 May 15 — Gregg Rice has been awarded an Impact Award by the UNC Graduate School. Impact Awards “recognize students with research that has an impact on challenges faced in North Carolina and beyond — successful projects increase our understanding of these challenges and provide hope for solutions.” Gregg was recognized for the long-term potential of his work to help discover novel antibiotics.
Bridget Larman Graduates with Honors
1 May 15 — Bridget Larman successfully defended her senior thesis to graduate with Honors from UNC. Bridget studied conformational changes in a model RNA virus, as part of her leadership work in the Undergraduate Transcriptome Project.
Colleen Kellenberger Appointed Lineberger Basic Science Postdoctoral Fellow
1 Oct 14 — Colleen has been awarded a National Research Service Award as a trainee in the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center Postdoctoral Training Program. This award will support Colleen’s work focusing on understanding RNA genome structure in cancer-related viruses, especially HIV.
Matt Smola Gives Invited Talk at Cold Spring Harbor Conference
28 Aug 14 — Graduate student Matt Smola presented his work on the structures of non-coding RNAs at a Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory conference. In his invited talk, Matt emphasized how little is known about lncRNA structures but, nonetheless, the many functional insight that can be gleaned from rigorous structure analysis.
Liz Dethoff and Gregg Rice Invited to Speak at RNA Society Meeting
1 June 14 — Postdoc Liz Dethoff and graduate student Gregg Rice have been invited to present talks at the annual meeting of the RNA Society, held this year in Quebec City, Canada. They will share their work directed towards solving the RNA secondary structure folding problem, higher-order structure of the Dengue virus RNA genome, and HIV-1 RNA genome structure.
Steve Busan Speaks at Research Computing Symposium
20 May 14 — Steve gave a talk at the Research Computing Symposium, which highlighted creative use of high performance computing at UNC. Steve shared his approach and innovations in analysis of massively parallel sequencing data for high-resolution RNA structure analysis.
Gregg Rice Receives Ledoux Award
6 August 13 — Gregg was awarded the Chemistry Department’s Ledoux Award, which is presented “to an outstanding third or fourth year doctoral student for excellence in chemistry.”
Christine Hajdin and Andy Lavender Receive Impact Awards
1 June 13 — Christine Hajdin and Andy Lavender have been awarded Impact Awards by the UNC Graduate School. The Impact Awards “recognize students with research that has an impact on challenges faced in North Carolina and beyond — successful projects increase our understanding of these challenges and provide hope for solutions.” Both students were recognized for their efforts to understand, and ultimately devise therapeutics against, RNA viruses.
Weeks Lab Undergraduates Publish in Biochemistry
25 April 13 — Work entirely designed, implemented, and interpreted by UNC undergraduates has been published in Biochemistry and is highlighted on the journal web page. Many viruses encode their genetic information in RNA molecules and these RNAs can have complex structures that are essential for efficient replication. The UNC undergraduates discovered that the RNA genome has a complex higher-order structure with three domains, each of which corresponds to an essential viral function. The work was carried out as part of the UNC Undergraduate Transcriptome Project, designed to help undergraduates explore their potential for independent creativity, to fuel their passion for science, and to be a model for engaging undergraduates in a research university.
Steve Busan to Present Work at CHDI Conference in Venice, Italy
8 April 13 — Steve Busan will present his work on the structure of the huntingtin mRNA at the CHDI conference in Venice, Italy. Steve is identifying allele-selective structures in this disease-associated RNA, with the goal of informing new therapeutic strategies.
Dr. Weeks Elected AAAS Fellow
30 November 12 — Dr. Weeks has been elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Fellows are elected in recognition of their distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications. Dr. Weeks was recognized for distinguished contributions to the development of technology predicting the structures of RNAs and for the application of this technology to problems of biological importance.
Liz Dethoff Awarded NIH Postdoctoral Fellowship
1 July 12 — Liz has been awarded a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award by the National Institutes of Health. This award will support her work on understanding how virus-born infectious diseases are mediated by RNA genomes.
Eva Archer to Give Chemistry Commencement Address
24 April 12 — Eva Archer, an undergraduate researcher in the Weeks lab, has been selected to give the commencement address at the Chemistry Department graduation ceremony. She will represent the class of 2012 for this year and share her thoughts with her fellow students, faculty, and gathered parents and family.
Weeks Lab Undergraduates to Graduate with Honors
2 April 12 — All three of the terrific senior undergraduate researchers in the lab — Ge Zhang, Eva Archer and Nicholas Watts — successfully defended their independent research projects before panels comprised of three UNC professors. Each will now graduate from UNC with Honors, a major achievement!
Dr. Weeks Interviewed by Honors Carolina
1 April 12 — Dr. Weeks was recently inverviewed by Honors Carolina on his work with undergraduates, especially his commitment to mentoring students in independent research as part of the Undergraduate Transcriptome Project. [See the interview.]
Matt Smola Awarded NSF Graduate Research Fellowship
30 March 12 — Matt Smola has been awarded a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. The highly competitive NSF Fellowship recognizes Matt’s achievements in science and his long term potential in scholarship, teaching and outreach.
Weeks Lab Researchers Share Work with Nobel Laureate
14 March 12 — Graduate student Christine Hajdin and Postdoc David Mauger presented their work at an RNA Workshop with Nobel Laureate Thomas Cech. The workshop was organized by Postdoc Nate Siegfried.
Matt Smola and Gregg Rice Highlighted in the Biophysical Society Newsletter
1 November 11 — The work of graduate students Matt Smola and Gregg Rice, who served as teaching assistants for the 2011 Biophysical Society Summer Course in Biophysics, was highlighted in the recent society newsletter. There are great quotes from both students — [pdf]!
Justin Low Receives Award at the Symposium on RNA Biology: RNA Tool & Target
22 October 11 — Justin presented a talk at the Symposium on RNA Biology, held biennially at the North Carolina Biotechnology Center. Justin discussed his work focused on “SHAPE-Directed Discovery of Potent shRNA Inhibitors of HIV-1” and won one of the outstanding student seminar awards.
Andy Lavender’s Structure Prediction Corroborated
12 October 11 — Andy has been developing new ways of predicting the tertiary structures of biologically important RNA molecules. Last year he, in collaboration with Feng Ding and Nikolay Dokholyan, predicted the structure of a key functional element in the RNA genome of the hepatitis C virus [Biochemistry 49:4931 (2010)]. The structure of this RNA was recently solved [Structure 19:1456 (2011)] and is very similar to Andy’s model, which now represents one of the very best de novo predictions to date.
Jake Grohman Presents at 2011 Nucleocapsid Meeting
18 September 11 — Jake travelled to Barcelona, Spain to present a talk at the 2011 Nucleocapsid meeting on his work focused on inventing ultrasensitive approaches for analyzing RNA structure in complex biological environments, especially inside viruses.
Dr. Weeks Receives NIH EUREKA Award
1 September 11 — Professor Weeks has received a EUREKA Award from the National Institutes of Health. The EUREKA (Exceptional, Unconventional Research Enabling Knowledge Acceleration) program supports exceptionally innovative investigators and projects that, if successful, will have an unusually high impact. Dr. Weeks and his colleagues seek to create a rapid and generic approach for discovery of small molecules that bind RNA specifically and elicit precise and useful biological effects.
Liz Dethoff Appointed Lineberger Basic Science Postdoctoral Fellow
16 August 11 — Liz has been awarded a National Research Service Award as a trainee in the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center Postdoctoral Training Program. This award will support Liz’s work focusing on understanding RNA genome structure in cancer-related viruses.
Nate Siegfried Awarded NIH Postdoctoral Fellowship
15 August 11 — Nate has been awarded a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award by the National Institutes of Health. This award will support his work on developing novel ultra-high throughput approaches for RNA structure-function analysis. Nate is currently a co-author on a methods manuscript in the lab and is well on his way to creating new, lasting RNA-directed technologies.
Christine Hajdin Gives Talk at 2011 RNA Society Meeting
14 June 11 — Christine will travel to Kyoto, Japan to present a talk at the RNA Society Meeting on her work entitled “ShapeKnots: Accurate SHAPE-directed RNA Secondary Structure Prediction, Including Pseudoknots”. Pseudoknots play important roles in gene expression and viral replication and are highly overrepresented in critical functional motifs. Christine has created a blended experimental and computational algorithm for discovering these motifs and is now searching for functional pseudoknots in the HIV-1 RNA genome.
Dr. Weeks Appointed Distinguished Professor
1 July 11 — Dr. Weeks has been appointed Kenan Distinguished Professor by the University’s Board of Trustees. Dr. Weeks earned this distinction from the Provost’s office, which considers nominations selected from stellar faculty throughout the UNC campus.
Christine Hajdin Receives Dobbins Award
28 April 11 — Christine was awarded the Chemistry Department’s James T. Dobbins Award, which is presented “to an outstanding third or fourth year doctoral student for excellence in chemistry.”
Justin Low to Present at Biochemistry Research Retreat
26 April 11 — Justin has been selected to present his work entitled “SHAPE-Directed Discovery of Potent shRNA Inhibitors of HIV-1”. Justin’s work focuses on using SHAPE technology to design highly effective inhibitors of HIV-1 replication and has broad implications for designing diverse classes of RNA-directed therapeutics.
Ge Zhang Inducted into Phi Beta Kappa
22 April 11 — Ge is one of four Chemistry Majors who has been initiated into the Phi Beta Kappa National Honor Society for Spring of 2011. The ideal Phi Beta Kappan “has demonstrated intellectual integrity, tolerance for other views, and a broad range of academic interests”. The organization celebrates and advocates excellence in the liberal arts and sciences. Ge is a member of the Undergraduate Transcriptome Project (the UTP) in the lab.
Dr. Weeks to Address UNC Honors Students
19 April 11 — The interactive talk will focus on the HIV genome and undergraduate research. Dr. Weeks will share his experiences in leading a National Science Foundation-supported program called the Undergraduate Transcriptome Project (the UTP) at UNC. Undergraduates in this program work together to plan, implement, interpret, and communicate research focused on significant problems in biology, currently focused on understanding the RNA genome structure of a model icosahedral virus.
Eva Archer Chosen to Represent UNC at Research in the Capital Symposium
01 April 11 — Eva will join other students from the greater UNC University system and will meet with North Carolina legislators to discuss the important role of original research, scholarship, and creative performance in undergraduate education. Eva is a leader in the Undergraduate Transcriptome Project, the UTP, in the Weeks lab.
David Mauger Receives American Cancer Society Postdoctoral Fellowship
28 March 11 — This grant will support David’s work on the development of new experimental approaches to analyze the role of RNA structure in viral replication. David is currently a co-author of two reviews from the laboratory on high-throughput RNA structure analysis.