HOWARD HUGHES MEDICAL INSTITUTE INVESTIGATOR MELISSA J. MOORE, PhD, JOINS UMASS MEDICAL SCHOOL

Expert in messenger RNA will collaborate with other UMMS investigators in groundbreaking RNA research

September 5, 2007

Worcester, Mass.—Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator (HHMI) Melissa J. Moore, PhD, has been appointed professor of biochemistry & molecular pharmacology with tenure at the University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS). Dr. Moore joins the Medical School from Brandeis University where she was professor of biochemistry.

“We are so pleased to welcome Dr. Moore to the Medical School. She is a very accomplished member of a class of young investigators who have already had a substantial impact on biomedical research,” said C. Robert Matthews, PhD, the Arthur F. and Helen P. Koskinas Professor and chair of Biochemistry & Molecular Pharmacology. “As an emerging leader in biomedical research, we are looking for people who ask big questions and take risks—Dr. Moore is certainly one of those scientists. She has that special talent and perseverance that will no doubt lead to major scientific breakthroughs and medical advances.”

“I'm very excited about joining the UMass Medical School faculty. The UMass community is remarkably collaborative and cooperative, and I look forward to being part of that environment. It’s not something you necessarily find in other schools,” said Moore. “Moreover, UMass Medical School is one of the best places in the world for RNA research. I’m eager to collaborate with my new colleagues, collaborations that I hope will both broaden the impact of my work and bring my research closer to the clinic.”

A native of Virginia, Moore received her BS degree in chemistry and biology from the College of William and Mary and her PhD in biological chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she also completed postdoctoral research. Moore pursued her postdoctoral research under the supervision of Phillip A. Sharp, PhD, who received the 1993 Nobel Prize in Medicine for his discoveries related to gene splicing. As a postdoctoral fellow, she began working on RNA metabolism and developed a widely adopted technique for manipulating RNA molecules.

Following completion of her postdoctoral research in 1994, Moore joined Brandeis where she has since risen to the rank of professor. She was named an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in 1997. 

Moore joins existing UMMS Howard Hughes Medical Investigators Michael R. Green, MD, PhD, the Lambi and Sarah Adams Chair in Genetic Research and professor of biochemistry & molecular biology and director of the Program in Gene Function & Expression; Roger J. Davis, PhD, the H. Arthur Smith Chair in Cancer Research and professor of biochemistry & molecular biology, and 2006 Nobel Laureate Craig C. Mello, PhD, the Blais University Chair in Molecular Medicine and professor of cell biology.  HHMI investigators’ laboratories are funded by HHMI, while the scientists retain their faculty appointments at the Medical School and continue their research. HHMI funding can reach $1 million per year in support of laboratory and research enterprises, as well as graduate student training, library resources and other needs.

Moore has been the recipient of a number of honors and accolades, including an American Cancer Society Postdoctoral Fellowship, a Helen Hay Whitney Postdoctoral Fellowship, a Searle Scholars Award and a David and Lucile Packard Fellowship. She is a member of several professional societies including the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Chemical Society, the American Society for Microbiology and the RNA Society.

The Moore lab is interested in pre-mRNA splicing and its connections to intracellular mRNA localization, translation, and degradation.  Pre-mRNA splicing is the process by which incoherent sequences called introns are removed from newly made RNA transcripts (precursors to messenger RNAs or pre-mRNAs) before the resultant mRNAs can be used as blueprints to make proteins.  Moore describes herself as a broad-ranging problem-oriented scientist who can't resist sticking her fingers in many pots.  Research currently underway in the lab ranges from watching individual pre-mRNA molecules splice one at a time via high-resolution fluorescence microscopy, to investigating how yeast cells rid themselves of old and dysfunctional RNAs, to elucidating the mechanisms by which mammalian neurons control protein expression at synapses using mRNAs that self-destruct once they've been used to make a protein.  Her research is currently funded by the HHMI and the National Institutes of Health.

About The University of Massachusetts Medical School
The University of Massachusetts Medical School, one of the fastest growing academic health centers in the country, has built a reputation as a world- class research institution, consistently producing noteworthy advances in clinical and basic research. The Medical School attracts more than $174 million in research funding annually, 80% of which comes from federal funding sources. Research funding enables UMMS scientists to explore human disease from the molecular level to large-scale clinical trials. Basic and clinical research leads to new approaches for diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disease. Visit www.umassmed.edu for additional information.

Contact: Alison Duffy, 508-856-2000