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Postdoc Li-Chun Tu awarded NIH grant to study human chromosome dynamics

By Sarah Willey

UMass Medical School Communications

October 16, 2017
  Li-Chun Tu, PhD

Li-Chun Tu, PhD

A UMass Medical School postdoctoral research associate in the Grunwald Lab has received a National Institutes of Health Pathway to Independence (K99/R00) Award.

Li-Chun Tu, PhD, is interested in understanding the architecture of the human genome by tracking its mobility within the cell nucleus. With the grant, Dr. Tu will be using CRISPRainbow, a technology developed by UMMS scientists by repurposing CRISPR/Cas9 from the bacterial immune system. The technology allows researchers to tag and track up to seven different genomic locations in live cells. It’s an invaluable tool for studying the structure of the genome in real time. As part of the new grant, Tu will quantitatively image and characterize genomic locations in live cells in an effort to test if genomic loci movements depend on chromosome identity or on nuclear location.

“This award is a great success for Li-Chun, and a well-deserved one. I am really happy for her and just a little bit proud that a relatively young lab like mine was able to provide an environment within the RNA Therapeutics Institute for her to succeed,” said David Grunwald, PhD, assistant professor in the RNA Therapeutics Institute.

“My research aims to significantly improve our current understanding of the mechanisms that induce genetic alterations that could lead to new gene therapy strategies for inherited genetic diseases and cancers,” said Tu. 

The purpose of the NIH’s Pathways to Independence program is to provide promising investigators with greater stability and flexibility to help them with scientific innovation and discovery.

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