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Investigator Spotlight: Lisa Hall-Anderson, PhD

Date Posted: Monday, June 17, 2024

Lisa Hall-Anderson, PhD, research investigator and associate professorLisa Hall, PhD, associate professor, and co-investigator in Lawrence Lab is also the co-director and teacher of UMass Chan Medical School’s Principal 1 block, Building Working Cells and Tissues, has received the 2024 Diversity, Representation and Inclusion for Value in Education (DRIVE) Commendation on May 30, 2024, from the Dean and the Diversity and Inclusion Office, recognizing her work in creating an inclusive and appropriate educational environment for our learners. The FOM1 Principles 1 course starts annually in late August and is open to Neurology faculty members to audit specific lectures by attending the class via Zoom. The course covers the first six weeks of the medical school curriculum and includes Genetics, Biochemistry, Histology (cell biology), and physiology. Lisa, a co-PI on many of Dr. Lawrence’s grants, focuses her research on the basic science end and shares the results always impact translational work.   

Lisa’s research interests began by studying human X-chromosome inactivation, and she focuses specifically on non-coding RNA function, nuclear structure, and finding function in the repeat portion of our genome, which is often still considered “junk” butLisa Hall-Anderson, PhD, laboratory research takes up over half our genome. Lisa, a co-PI on many of Dr. Lawrence’s grants, focuses her research on the basic science end of the lab's research, but shares that these results always impact the lab's translational work too. Lisa is a co-author of recent publications representing research initiatives in Lawrence Lab and has been noted to be an ‘enthusiastic biologist’ when asked to support the development of a commentary in a 2024 Science journal discussing long lived RNAs, and in a recent Scientific American article on the ‘RNA revolution’. She is also awaiting a publication currently under peer review by Nucleus, titled, ‘Cytogenetic Bands and Sharp Peaks of Alu Underlie Large-scale Segmental Regulation of Nuclear Genome Architecture.’  Lisa, originally from the island of Hawaii (the big island) where most of her family still resides, pursued college on the mainland (what Hawaii calls the lower 48). She moved to Colorado to attend Colorado College in Colorado Springs for her undergraduate degree, then moved to California to attend the University of California, Davis, earning her PhD in genetics. Lastly, she moved to Massachusetts and joined UMass Chan Medical School for her post-doctorate in 1999, in The Lawrence Lab, and never left. Lisa has been co-directing the Human Medical Genetics course with Dr. Lawrence since 2003, teaching genetics to medical students. She was the assistant director of the Determinants of Population health course for six years and enjoys educating the community through talks about genetics and research at local high schools, science camps, and colleges.   

Lisa discovered her love for teaching by chance, as she believed she was a shy person. However, through teaching and speaking at seminars, she grasped the opportunity to help mold the next generation of medical doctors, which she considers a privilege. Lisa has always been interested in the clinical side of genetics focusing on human genetics rather than bugs and microbes and shares, “I love the research area I am involved with because it is very broad, and since I am a jack-of-all-trades type of person, I get to indulge my curiosity in many different aspects of science. The Lawrence Lab has been a wonderful place to work and allowed me the perfect work/life balance flexibility to be a good mother, successful researcher, and dedicated teacher!”   

When Lisa is not in the lab, you may find her heading to Hawaii to visit family. She enjoys many hobbies related to art and has taught lapidary, the making of gemstones, at the Worcester Craft Center. You may find her there taking different art classes from jewelry making, stained glass, enamel, ceramics, felting, and so much more.