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Organs and Organisms

Our students are engaged in research spanning a variety of biological systems using basic animal models of disease to clinical approaches for treatment. Departments including Medicine, Neurobiology and the RNA Therapeutics Institute offer training in highly collaborative and supportive communities.

Functional Dissection of Cancer Mutations in Mouse Models Preclinical Discovery for Cancer and Disease Correction - Wen Xue Lab and Jordan L. Smith

Functional Dissection of Cancer Mutations in Mouse Models Preclinical Discovery for Cancer and Disease Correction - Wen Xue Lab and Jordan L. Smith

Functional Dissection of Cancer Mutations in Mouse Models

Preclinical Discovery for Cancer and Disease Correction

Wen Xue Lab and Jordan L. Smith

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The Xue lab goal is to explore various small RNA tools, including CRISPR/Cas9 platforms, to functionally dissect cancer mutations in mouse models of liver cancer and to identify strategies for disease correction in rare genetic diseases. The Xue lab’s most recent work includes: CRISPR-Cas9 screening to elucidate mechanisms of senescence in liver cancer, repurposing CRISPR-Cas9 for efficient cancer modeling, and base editing for disease correction in familial tyrosinemia.  See the research taking place in the Xue lab here: Xue Lab

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I joined Dr. Wen Xue’slab in 2017.  As a rotation student, I explored mechanisms of CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing and helped determine that single guide RNA (sgRNA) can induce alternative exon skipping and large genetic deletions. These findings, published in Genome Biology, demonstrated the potential complications of using CRISPR/Cas9 editing in cancer biology modeling. My thesis work focuses on identifying tractable therapeutic strategies in rare pediatric cancers through exploring mechanism of oncogene addiction and cancer cell differentiation.
Jordan.Smith@umassmed.edu

UMMS Cancer Avatar Institute and Immuno-Oncology - Michael Brehm Lab and Jane E. Chuprin

UMMS Cancer Avatar Institute and Immuno-Oncology - Michael Brehm Lab and Jane E. Chuprin

UMMS Cancer Avatar Institute and Immuno-Oncology

Michael Brehm Lab and Jane E. Chuprin


UMMS cancer avatar institute

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Dr. Michael A. Brehm, PhD, is an Associate Professor in the Program in Molecular Medicine and a Robert and Sandra Glass Term Chair in Diabetes, as well as serving as a co-director with Dr. Dale L. Greiner, PhD, of a pre-clinical/co-clinical Research Core to advance development and use of models of human specific diseases. The Core is working with The Jackson Laboratory (JAX) and Precision Genetics Center (JPGC) promoting interactions with clinicians and hospitals, access to patient data and samples and comprehensive model assessment necessary for generation of models engrafted with human tumors and immune systems for preclinical testing. The Brehm Lab uses these unique animal models of human immune responses to investigate approaches to downregulate as well as activate the human immune system for treatments of type 1 diabetes and cancer.
Brehm Lab

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Jane E. Chuprin joined the Brehm Lab in September 2019 with a focus on studying immune responses to pancreatic adenocarcinoma tumor as part of the Avatar Project at UMMS. The Avatar Project is such that a patient’s tumor is engrafted into an immunodeficient mouse, and subsequently the patient’s own immune system is also engrafted for a unique model to study how the patient’s own immune system is, or is not, responding its tumor. Different combinations of treatment can then be tested in these humanized mice to see what the best therapy would be for the specific patient and tumor. Jane is focusing on studying these immune responses in depth using multi-parameter flow cytometry (panel of upwards of 30 colors) and other bioinformatic techniques (i.e. CITE-seq). She is also working on investigating a new clinical approach to treatment through intratumoral injections of immunotherapy drugs.
Jane.Chuprin@umassmed.edu

Modeling pediatric leukemogenesis and relapse - Michelle Kelliher Lab and Kevin W. O'Connor

Modeling pediatric leukemogenesis and relapse - Michelle Kelliher Lab and Kevin W. O'Connor

Modeling pediatric leukemogenesis and relapse

Michelle Kelliher Lab and Kevin W. O'Connor

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My laboratory has two main research areas: Mechanisms of T cell leukemogenesis and the role of RIP kinases in TNF- and TLR- signaling and cell death. We use the mouse as a model system to interrogate the pathways that control inflammation and to understand the genetic basis of T cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL).
Kelliher Lab

kelliher and oconnor research

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Kevin joined the Kelliher Lab in September 2018. His thesis work aims to better understand leukemia-initiating cells (L-ICs), which are thought to be responsible for T-ALL relapse. By applying a single-cell transcriptomic approach to a murine T-ALL model he aims to identify genetic features of L-ICs amenable to therapeutic intervention in order to improve outcomes for patients with T-ALL.
Kevin.OConnor@umassmed.edu

Microglial derived innate immune mechanisms governing neural excitability - Dori P. Schafer Lab and Philip A. Feinberg

Microglial derived innate immune mechanisms governing neural excitability - Dori P. Schafer Lab and Philip A. Feinberg

Microglial derived innate immune mechanisms governing neural excitability

Dori P. Schafer Lab and Philip A. Feinberg


Microglial derived innate immune mechanisms governing neural excitability

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The primary focus of Dr. Schafer’s research is to understand the role of microglia in neural circuit development and plasticity in the healthy and diseased nervous system. Major lines of ongoing research in the lab are aimed at elucidating the molecular mechanisms underlying microglia-synapse interactions, investigating microglial responses to changes in sensory experience and dissecting how microglia contribute to synaptic changes in neurological and psychiatric disorders including multiple sclerosis and autism spectrum disorders. To address these areas, the lab has developed cutting-edge molecular genetic approaches combined with high resolution static and 2-photon live imaging.
Dorothydori.Schafer@umassmed.edu

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Philip joined Dori Schafer’s lab in 2016 with an interest in studying the role microglia play in regulating excitatory & inhibitory balance (E/I balance) in the brain. The clinical relevance is exemplified in neuropsychiatric disorders, such as autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), where defects in E/I balance are believed to underlie some of the core clinical features including repetitive behaviors, impaired sociability and increased propensity for seizures. His current projects focus on exploring whether changes in microglial inflammatory state affect E/I balance by studying the contribution of microglial-derived neuroactive cytokines to regulating structural and functional synaptic connectivity. Philip uses genetic mouse tools to dissect the microglial mechanisms and combines this work with an ongoing human study examining inflammatory markers and E/I measurements in adolescents with ASD.
Philip.Feinberg@umassmed.edu