Jeanne B Lawrence, PhD
Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology & Pediatrics
University of Massachusetts Medical School
Department of Cell Biology, Room S7-137
55 Lake Avenue North
Worcester, MA 01655
Phone: (508) 856-6015
Jeanne Lawrence is the Interim Chair of the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology and a Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology and Pediatrics at the University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS). After receiving an M.S. in Human Genetic Counseling she became intrigued by research into chromosomes and epigenetics, and thus earned her PhD in developmental biology from Brown University in 1982. She has been on the faculty of UMMS since 1985, where she also directs medical education in human genetics.
Jeanne Lawrence’s lab has long developed approaches for visualizing single genes and RNAs within individual cells and has published extensively on compartmentalization of the mammalian cell nucleus, showing the cell-type specific organization of endogenous genes, RNAs, and proteins with specific nuclear sub-compartments. Her lab’s investigations of nuclear RNAs included their demonstration that XIST RNA is a novel nuclear RNA that “paints” the inactive X chromosome, where it induces a host of heterochromatin modifications. Her studies of X-inactivation have included heterochromatin and Barr Body loss in cancer, particularly in relation to BRCA1 and breast cancer. Recently her lab demonstrated that another long non-coding RNA, NEAT1 RNA, provides precedent for an “architectural RNA” that forms the foundation for a cytological-scale structure, nuclear paraspeckles.
Dr. Lawrence’s work currently includes studies of heterochromatin formation/loss and changing nuclear structure in cancer cells and during programming and reverse programming of human ES and iPS cells. She has received several research awards including the German Biochemical Analysis Prize (shared with David Ward for development of FISH techniques), has long served as Monitoring Editor for the Journal of Cell Biology, served on the NIH Human Genome Council and various study sections, and is an invited Honorary Founding Member of the Rosalind Franklin Society.