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Lab News

June 3, 2024:

We have moved to our new lab space at the New Education Research Building (NERB)!

Our new address is:

New Education Research Building
N8-3005
366 Plantation Street
Worcester MA 01605
 

May 28, 2024:

Taylor Chen has joined the Tai Research Group as a Postdoctoral Associate.  Welcome, Taylor!

April 25, 2024:

Mengtian was a recipient of the The Office of Technology Commercialization & Ventures (OCTV) Technology Development Fund for 2024 for her proposal entitled, “Improving AAV2.MC1 transduction efficiency through directed evolution of the VP1u region”.  Her project, in collaboration with Dr. Sloan Wang of The Gao Lab, seeks to develop new gene therapy capsids with improved intracellular trafficking features.  Congratulations, Mengtian!

The OTCV Technology Development Fund was established by OTCV in the President’s Office in 2004 to provide University of Massachusetts researchers with supplemental funding to advance previously disclosed University technologies toward commercialization. The Fund was initially created as part of the University’s science and technology activities and as part of OTCV’s desire to increase licensing income, startups, and entrepreneurism across all five campuses in our system.  

February 5, 2024:

Sam Lerner has joined the Tai Research Group as a Research Technician.  Welcome, Sam!

December 13, 2023:

Suk's proposal entitled, "SMRT sequencing of rAAVs harboring ITRs from different serotypes
to understand circular episome formation" was selected as one of the five winners of the 2023 PacBio STAR grant.
 
The award provides free sequencing of one SMRT cell with SeqCenter and monetary support to travel to a PacBio roadshow or local conference to present data.

Congratulations!

November 30, 2023:

It is with welcome surprise and honor that Tam Tran and Sandhiya Ravi both received ASGCT's Career Development Award for 2023 on separate grant proposals.

Tam's proposal entitled, "Analyzing the Integration of AAV Vectors Carrying Truncated Inverted Terminal Repeats (ITRs) in the Genomes of Transduced Cells" with support through the Children’s Tumor Foundation;

and

Sandhiya's proposal entitled, "Enhancing Truncation Event Prediction in AAV Vector Genome Designs through Advanced Deep Learning Techniques" with support through the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

Congratulations, Sandhiya and Tam!

The American Society of Gene & Cell Therapy is the primary professional membership organization for gene and cell therapy. The Society's members are scientists, physicians, patient advocates, and other professionals. Our members work in a wide range of settings including universities, hospitals, government agencies, foundations, and biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies.

The mission of ASGCT is to advance knowledge, awareness, and education leading to the discovery and clinical application of genetic and cellular therapies to alleviate human disease. ASGCT's strategic vision is to be a catalyst for bringing together scientists, physicians, patient advocates, and other stakeholders to transform the practice of medicine by incorporating the use of genetic and cellular therapies to control and cure human disease.

The Career Development Awards support independent transformative pilot studies in gene and cell therapy by ASGCT members, particularly those ideas that would be challenging to fund with normal funding mechanisms. ASGCT is interested in helping applicants generate their own independent preliminary data to use in larger proposals (NIH K awards, first-submission R-level funding, etc.) to gain independence.

Additionally, in 2023, ASGCT has partnered with the Children's Tumor Foundation (CTF). As part of a shared mission to drive scientific research and funding, the Children's Tumor Foundation is supporting three additional $100,000 Career Development Awards that may impact neurofibromatosis and schwannomatosis.

August 29, 2023:

Mengtian Cui has been awarded the 2023 HGTC Fellowship for her study proposal entitled, "Grafting of an enhanced VP1u region onto other capsid serotypes to boost transduction of adeno-associated virus vectors for gene therapy ".  Congratulations, Mengtian!

On April,17th 2015, the Gene Therapy Center received a $2 million endowment from the Horae Oriental Shenzhen Investment Company of Guangdong, China.  The Center was formally renamed The Horae Gene Therapy Center in recognition of this most generous gift.  Using annual fair market return of this endowment fund, the Horae Gene Therapy Center decided to establish the Horae Gene Therapy Post-Doctoral Scholarship Program.

August 18, 2023:

Sophia has been selected to receive support from UMass Chan's NIH funded Initiative for Maximizing Student Development (IMSD) grant.   Congratulations!

The Initiative for Maximizing Student Development at the UMass Chan Medical School (IMSD) program is funded by grant T32 GM135751 from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The goal of this National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) program is to support educational programs that seek to increase diversity in the biomedical, behavioral and clinical research fields.

August 3, 2023:

We are thrilled to be awarded critical research support from UMass Chan's BRIDGE Fund to examine the benefit of grafting of an enhanced VP1u region derived from natural AAV2 capsids onto other capsid serotypes to boost transduction of adeno-associated virus vectors for gene therapy.  This project will be pursued in collaboration with my brilliant colleague, Dr. Jun Xie (Horae Gene Therapy Center and MaPS).

In addition, our wonderful colleages Dr. Kevin Donahue (Department of Medicine, Cardiovascular Medicine) and Dr. Ann Marshak-Rothstein (Department of Medicine, Rheumatology) are also awardees for separate research projects.  We are honored to be collaborating with these two teams on their exciting and innovative research!

The BRIDGE Fund supports critical research milestones for inventions and discoveries that have high potential to change the course of disease. The funding will mitigate investment risk by producing key data sets that would provide an attractive entry-point for partners and investors. This investment fund continues to grow, increasing from approximately $1 million per year in 2019 to $3 million in 2024.

Coverage in the Worcester Business Journal.

May 4, 2023:

We are honored to be the recipient of the The Bassick Family Foundation Award to develop a high-intensity and atrial-specific AAV-based gene therapy for treating atrial fibrillation.  This project will be pursued in collaboration with Dr. Kevin Donahue and his research team.

The Hudson Hoagland Society (HHS) was originally founded in 1985 to recognize major annual contributors to the Worcester Foundation for Biomedical Research. Named in honor of the Worcester Foundation's co-founder, the Society brings together individuals who share a commitment to advancing biomedical research. Founded in 1985 as an independent research institute by Drs. Hudson Hoagland and Gregory Pincus, the Worcester Foundation merged with the UMass Chan Medical School in 1997. Since the time of the merger with the Worcester Foundation, and in affiliation with the Hudson Hoagland Society, more than $5 million in innovation grants of up to $40,000 have been awarded to nearly 170 researchers at UMass Chan Medical School.

Funds raised through the Hudson Hoagland Society are now used to support the most promising and innovative research at UMass Chan Medical School. These "seed" grants are awarded based on a competitive review process and allow a researcher to pursue new, innovative research for which he or she may not yet have funding. 

April 13, 2023:

Sophia has passed her QE!  Congratulations!

April 10, 2023:

Suk was highlighted in a UMass Chan Student Spotlight article.  Check it out:
PhD candidate aims to make gene therapy techniques safer

August 29, 2022:

Tapan Sharma has joined the Tai Research Group as a Postdoctoral Associate.  Welcome, Tapan!

August 23, 2022:

Congratulations to Sandhiya Ravi for being awarded the 2022 Horae Gene Therapy Postdoctoral Fellowship.  This award will support her research study entitled: Designing immune cell-detargeting cassettes for gene therapy vectors with machine learning.  We look forward to working with you on this exciting new project!

In April 2015, the Gene Therapy Center received a $2 million endowment from the Horae Oriental Shenzhen Investment Company of Guangdong, China. The Center was formally renamed the Horae Gene Therapy Center in recognition of this most generous gift on August 17, 2015. Using annual fair market return of this endowment fund, the Horae Gene Therapy Center decided to establish the Horae Gene Therapy Post-Doctoral Scholarship Program.

June 6, 2022:

Fang Zhang has joined the Tai Research Group as a Sr. Research Assistant.  Welcome, Fang!

March 29, 2022:

Sophia Liu has joined the Tai Research Group as a Graduate Student.  Welcome, Sophia!

January 24, 2022:

Wei Zhan has been accepted into the UMass Chan Morningside Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences PhD program!  Congratulations!

November 17, 2021:

Congratulations to Manish Muhuri for being awarded the American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy (ASGCT) Career Development Award in Gene and Cell Therapy for Immunological Aspects of Gene Therapy and Vaccines for his proposed research on designing novel miRNA binding site cassettes to detarget from antigen presenting cells with machine learning.  We are excited to support this highly impactful research, and look forward to following Manish's career trajectory in the gene therapy field!

The mission of ASGCT is to advance knowledge, awareness, and education leading to the discovery and clinical application of genetic and cellular therapies to alleviate human disease. ASGCT's strategic vision is to be a catalyst for bringing together scientists, physicians, patient advocates, and other stakeholders to transform the practice of medicine by incorporating the use of genetic and cellular therapies to control and cure human disease.

August 30, 2021:

Tom Leland has joined the Tai Research Group as a Graduate Student.  Welcome, Tom!

August 2, 2021:

Sandhiya Ravi has joined the Tai Research Group as a Postdoctoral Associate.  Welcome, Sandhiya!

July 26, 2021:

Mengtian Cui has joined the Tai Research Group as a Postdoctoral Associate.  Welcome, Mengtian!

June 28, 2021:

Morgan Mooney has joined the Tai Research Group as a Research Technician.  Welcome, Morgan!

June 21, 2021:

Hillary Barnett has joined the Tai Research Group as a Research Associate.  Welcome, Hillary!

June 14, 2021:

Suk has passed his QE!  Congratulations!

May 24, 2021:

Eddie Viscasillas has joined the Tai Lab as a Research Technician.  Welcome, Eddie!

May 3, 2021:

Jackson McGowan has joined the Tai Lab as a Research Technician.  Welcome, Jackson!

May 2021:

Jennifer Chen has received her Master of Science degree in Biochemical Sciences.  Her thesis, entitled, "Single-stranded rAAV vectors are unable to trigger intracellular RNA sensors that mediate innate immunity" examined the role of RNA sensors in AAV gene therapy.  Congratulations, Jennifer!

March 8, 2021:

Mitchell Yip has joined the Tai/Gao Lab as a Technician.  Welcome, Mitch!

March 3, 2021:

Phil Tai has joined The Li Weibo Institute for Rare Diseases Research faculty!

February 26, 2021:

We are happy to announce that Dr. Kevin Donahue has been awarded a pilot grant from the Li Weibo Institute for Rare Diseases Research!  The project entitled, "Developing Gene Therapy Methods for Familial Atrial Fibrillation" focuses on the engineering of an atrial-specific AAV-mediated gene painting approach to treat familial atrial fibrillation (AF).  We will be working in collaboration with Dr. Donahue to develop atrial-specific regulatory cassettes to drive safe and efficacious transgene expression in the heart.  Our hope for this pilot work is to provide proof-of-concept demonstration in relevant models that the rAAV gene-painting strategy is safe and robust, enabling future clinical studies for patients with familial AF.

February 21, 2021:

Manish Muhuri has been promoted to the rank of Instructor in the Department of Microbiology.  Congrats and well deserved!

September 28, 2020:

Jennifer Chen has joined the Gao Lab as a Research Associate I.  Welcome, Jennifer!

September 14, 2020:

Anne Kennedy has joined the Gao Lab as a Lab Technician.  Welcome, Anne!

August 23, 2020:

Jeff Hsu has been awarded the 2020 HGTC Fellowship for his study entitled, "Identification and characterization of AAV membrane-associated accessory protein (MAAP) variants isolated from human tissues".  Congratulations, Jeff!

The Gene Therapy Center received a $2 million endowment from the Horae Oriental Shenzhen Investment Company of Guangdong, China. On August 17, 2015, the Center was formally renamed the Horae Gene Therapy Center in recognition of this most generous gift. Using annual fair market return of this endowment fund, the Horae Gene Therapy Center decided to establish the Horae Gene Therapy Post-Doctoral Scholarship Program.

July 17, 2020:

Brian Rossmiller has joined the Gao Lab as postdoctoral associate.  Welcome, Brian!

May 7, 2020:

Suk Namkung has joined the Gao Lab as a Graduate Student.  Welcome, Suk!

April 15, 2020:

Wei Zhan has joined the Gao Lab as Research Associate.  Welcome, Wei!

March 9, 2020:

Dr. Guangping Gao has announced that the Vector Innovation, Discovery and Engineering (VIDE) program will be an official research module of the HGTC of UMass Chan.

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