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New podcast: Allan Jacobson helps make sense out of nonsense mutations in genes

It was 1973 when Allan Jacobson, PhD, started his career at UMass Medical School and while the campus has dramatically transformed since then, the scientists’ zeal for discovery is still driving research, he said.

“We were taking a chance thinking that this could be a place that could be great, and we all pitched in and did it right. And, that’s what happened,” said Dr. Jacobson in a new Voices of UMassMed podcast. “We’ve done a great job building a faculty that feels like family.”

Jacobson is the Gerald L. Haidak, MD, and Zelda S. Haidak professor of cell biology, and chair and professor of microbiology & physiological systems. His lab studies the post-transcriptional control of gene expression, focusing on the consequences and corrections of “nonsense mutations”—errors in the genetic code that serve as periods in a genetic sentence. Nonsense mutations are the underlying cause of numerous inherited diseases such as cystic fibrosis and hemophilia. Jacobson is among more than 40 scientists with UMMS’ The Li Weibo (李伟波) Institute for Rare Diseases Research, which is focused on advancing science so that rare disease patients get the help they need.

Listen to the full podcast at Subscribe to the podcast on SoundCloud and iTunes by searching Voices of UMassMed. To share feedback and ideas for future episodes, e-mail the Office of Communications at