About the Program
The Program in Molecular Medicine is an academic department of the University of Massachusetts Medical School with a diverse faculty of both basic bio-medical and physician scientists. Its mission is to excel in research, teaching and service. The Program occupies its own modern 80,000 sq foot research building (Two Biotech) on the Medical School campus, and includes additional faculty appointments in the Program in Gene Function and Expression. The strategy for scientific development of the Program in Molecular Medicine has been to assemble outstanding investigators with overlapping scientific interests in order to probe molecular mechanisms that underlie physiological processes and their associated diseases. These laboratory groups bring a broad spectrum of state-of-the-art methodologies to the program, including digital imaging microscopy of live cells in three dimensions, x-ray crystallography, and gene ablation and silencing technology.
Expertise in chemistry, structural biology, biochemistry, cell and developmental biology, molecular biology, cell signaling and regulation, genomics and proteomics, genetics, immunology and virology is strongly represented in the Program in Molecular Medicine. Program faculty are also active in the teaching of these disciplines in both core and advanced courses for graduate and medical students. Structural biology at the UMass Medical School is supported by state-of-the-art X-ray and NMR core facilities housed in the Program in Molecular Medicine and the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology. Diffraction instrumentation includes three rotating anode X-ray generators equipped with R-axis IV, Mar 300 and Mar 350 image plates detectors, Osmic focusing mirrors, and nitrogen cryostreams. NMR instrumentation includes 400 MHz and 600 MHz Varian spectrometers equipped for multidimensional homonuclear and heteronuclear experiments. Computational resources include graphics workstations and multiprocessor Beowulf clusters for data processing, image reconstruction, 3D visualization, model building, refinement, molecular dynamics, and structural bioinformatics. Please see link to x-ray core web site: http://xrayweb.umassmed.edu/
Another major focus of the structural biology effort in the Program is directed at understanding how changes in molecular composition and distribution in cells or tissues bring about changes in function. A core group of scientists consisting of computer scientists, a mathematician, several engineers, a physicist, and a cell physiologist have pioneered the development of methods to probe changes in molecular organization in living cells. The unique and powerful tools developed by this group allow collaborative investigators to visualize small groups of molecules inside living cells with unprecedented resolution. Technology in the Program is able to analyze such images using a computer generated virtual reality 3D environment that allows investigators to effectively walk through and explore the molecular organization inside a living cell as it carries out a specific function. These methods are being applied to problems in the areas of gene transcription, RNA splicing, cell signaling in response to growth factors and other hormones, membrane trafficking, centrosome structure and function, mechanisms underlying chemotaxis, and the control of muscle contraction. These unique resources in the Program have attracted a steady stream of visiting scientists from major labs throughout the world.
The laboratory groups in the Program in Molecular Medicine are led by academic leaders in their respective fields of biology and medicine. Faculty in the Program include three Howard Hughes Investigators (Drs. Davis, Green and Mello), the Director of the NIH-funded Center for AIDS Research (Dr. Stevenson) and the Director of the NIH-funded Diabetes and Endocrinology Research Center (Dr. Rossini). Strong research programs related to cancer biology are also represented. The multidisciplinary nature of the Program has led to a significant number of collaborative publications by multiple laboratories. This is further enhanced by strong seminar and journal club activities as well as joint laboratory group meetings and NIH-funded program projects. Based on its success in research and teaching, the Program attracts large numbers of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows who greatly enrich the scientific environment.