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Translational and Clinical Research

Program in Molecular Medicine Faculty are dedicated to not just developing a deeper understanding of biology and biological processes but also taking this deeper understanding into the clinic in order to 1) develop new therapies and vaccines for non-infectious and infectious diseases around the world and 2) elucidate the etiology and epidemiology of human diseases through clinical research. Our goal is to use biology and biological research to better human life.  Examples include developing new therapies for autoimmunity (e.g., Type 1 diabetes, Scleroderma, IBS), cancer, infectious diseases (e.g, HIV, Epstein- Barr Virus, tuberculosis, helminths), metabolic disorders (e.g., Type 2 diabetes, hepatic steatosis, lipodystrophy, tyrosinemia), and neurodevelopmental and degenerative diseases (e.g., Fragile X, Huntington’s, epilepsy, microcephaly, obsessive compulsive disorder, and muscular atrophy).

Acharya Lab - Type 2 Diabetes
Sphingolipids are structural components of membranes and also bioactive lipids regulating growth, differentiation, apoptosis, intracellular trafficking and membrane turnover among other cellular processes. We use a combined genetic, molecular and biochemical approach to elucidate physiological functions for these lipids and to understand mechanisms that control sphingolipid homeostasis.  (Acharya profile)

Aroian Lab - Helminths, Staphylococcus and Streptococcus Infections
The Aroian Group researches infectious diseases and parasites. Our mission is to discover new cures and new basic information that leads to cures for major diseases that afflict humankind, namely intestinal roundworms and bacterial pathogens.  (Aroian profile)

Brehm Lab - Alopecia areata, Cancer, Dengue virus, Tuberculosis, Type 1 Diabetes
Our laboratory studies the biological mechanisms that control human immune responses to infectious agents and transplanted non-self tissues.  To investigate these mechanisms we are using humanized mouse models that contain functional human immune systems.  The humanized mice are generated using immnodeficient mice, which are engrafted with either human hematopoietic stem cells or with mature human immune cells.  These humanized mouse models allow the direct study of human immunity that is not possible with patients.  (Brehm profile)

Castilla Lab - Leukemia
Our laboratory studies how leukemia oncogenes alter cellular programs to transform hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells into a leukemia initiating cells. We combine genetic, biochemistry, and molecular biology approaches in transgenic mice and human cells to identify and characterize pathways deregulated by mutations in the members of the CBF gene family that redefine survival, self-renewal, and expansion of pre-leukemic progenitors. Recent efforts use this knowledge to develop high throughput small-molecule screens to identify inhibitors of oncoproteins that may be used as new drugs for improved therapies.  (Castilla profile)

Ceol Lab - Melanoma
Our laboratory is interested in the genetic and molecular mechanisms underlying tumor initiation and maintenance. We focus primarily on melanoma, using genetically-engineered zebrafish models and mammalian cultured cells to identify unique features of cancer cells that can potentially be used for diagnostic, prognostic or therapeutic benefit.  (Ceol profile)

Clapham Lab - HIV-1
Our research investigates how the glycoprotein spikes on HIV particles interact with the cell surface receptors and neutralizing antibodies. Our aim is to understand how these envelope spikes vary in different parts of the body allowing HIV to evade neutralization and to transmit to a new person. Understanding these issues will help the design of drugs and vaccines to treat and prevent HIV infection.  (Clapham profile)

Corvera Lab - Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes
Our laboratory has two main interests. One is the mechanism by which phosphoinositides control signal transduction and membrane trafficking in the endosomal system. The second more recent interest is centered on the question of how cells and organisms sense, generate, utilize and store energy. Energy metabolism is essential to life, and many diseases are associated with altered metabolism, including cancer and diabetes. We hope our research will lead to a better understanding and treatment of human diseases.  (Corvera profile)

Czech Lab - Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes
Our laboratory group is dedicated to the discovery of molecular mechanisms whereby insulin signaling regulates energy homeostasis. This quest includes RNAi screens, digital imaging and TIRF microscopy, phenotyping mice with gene knockouts and analysis of human adipose tissues. We hope to translate our findings to the prevention and treatment of type 2 diabetes.  (Czech profile)

Davis Lab - Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes, Cancer Autoimmune Disease
The cJun NH2-terminal kinase (JNK) signal transduction pathway is implicated in several stress-related disease processes including cancer, diabetes, inflammation, and stroke. Our hope is that drugs targeting the JNK pathway may be useful for the treatment of these diseases. The goal of this laboratory is to understand the molecular processes that are engaged by JNK in both health and disease.  (Davis profile)

Doxsey Lab - Scleroderma, Microcephaly, Primordial Dwarfism
Our laboratory investigates the mechanisms of centrosome function, spindle organization, cell cycle progression/checkpoints, cell separation during cytokinesis and asymmetries generated during mitosis. We are interested in the relationship of these processes to cancer, stem cell self-renewal, cancer stem cells and human aging.  (Doxsey profile)

Garber Lab - Autism, Fragile X Syndrome, HIV-1, Epstein-Barr virus
Manuel Garber, PhD, associate professor of molecular medicine and bioinformatics and integrative biology, and director of the Bioinformatics Core. Dr. Garber’s methods have been critical to the discovery and characterization of a novel set of large intergenic non-coding RNAs (lincRNAs) and to our understanding of the immune transcriptional response to pathogens. In September 2012, Dr. Garber moved to the University of Massachusetts Medical School to establish his laboratory and direct the Bioinformatics core.  (Garber profile)

Gottlinger Lab - HIV-1
The laboratory focuses on the late events in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1) replication, in particular on an endosomal budding machinery that HIV-1 co-opts to promote its egress from infected cells, and on the molecular mechanism by which the viral accessory protein Nef enhances the intrinsic infectivity of newly assembled virions. (Gottlinger profile)

Green Lab - Colon and Lung Cancer, Melanoma
My lab is interested in the mechanisms that regulate gene expression in eukaryotes, and the role of gene expression in various human disease states. A major emphasis is the use of transcription-based approaches and functional screens to identify new genes and regulatory pathways involved in cancer.  (Green profile)

Greer Lab - Human Neurological Disorders
We are broadly interested in the fundamental questions of how animals sense and interpret chemical signals to generate appropriate organismal responses and how these processes are disrupted in human neurological disorders.  To address these questions we are exploring novel mechanisms by which the olfactory system senses behaviorally relevant external stimuli and characterizing the function of microglia in detecting internal chemical cues.  (Greer profile)

Greiner Lab - Type 1 Diabetes
Our laboratory investigates the pathogenesis of type 1 diabetes, how to prevent it, and how to reverse it through islet transplantation. We use mouse and rat models of type 1 diabetes, and are building mice with human immune systems that permit the direct study of human disease without putting patients at risk.  (Greiner profile)

Guertin Lab - Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes, Lipodystrophy, Cancer
We study the molecular basis of growth and how defects in growth regulatory pathways contribute to cancer, metabolic disorders, and aging. In particular we are trying to understand how cells simultaneously sense nutrient availability, energy levels, and growth factors and use this information to control cell metabolism, cell growth, and cell proliferation. Our approach is multidisciplinary and employs genetic, cell biological, and biochemical strategies using mice, stem cells, and established mammalian cell lines.  (Guertin profile)

Ip Lab - Inflammatory Bowel Disease
We use Drosophila melanogaster, the common fruit fly, as a model to study innate immune response and stem cell regulation in the adult intestinal tract. The intestinal tract of the adult fly is a relatively simple organ formed by a layer of epithelial cells interspersed with stem cells. The intestinal tract frequently faces environmental challenges such as pathogenic chemicals and microbes. We are studying how these pathogens stimulate innate immune response and stem cell division, both of which are essential for the survival of the animal.  (Ip profile)

Karlsson Lab - Cholera, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
My research uses evolution as a tool for understanding how the human genome works. By combining signals of natural selection with genome-wide association studies, I aim to identify genes, pathways, and the functional variants underlying polygenic diseases, and translate these discoveries into advances in human health care. I am currently applying these methods to understand infectious disease resistance in humans, such as cholera resistance in Bangladesh, as well as behavioral genetics in dogs.  (Karlsson profile)

Kaufman Lab - Fungal Infections
We study several different classes of proteins used by eukaryotic cells to deposit histones onto DNA, as well as enzyme complexes that chemically modify chromosome proteins in order to alter DNA accessibility. We study these processes in yeast and human cells, using biochemical, genetic, genomic, and cell biological techniques.  (Kaufman profile)

Khvorova Lab - Huntington's Disease
Develop and characterize novel RNA chemistries to promote efficient oligonucleotide internalization and tissue distribution.  (Khvorova profile)

Kim Lab - Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes
Our research investigates obesity, diabetes and its complications using elegant metabolic procedures and transgenic mouse models of altered metabolism. Our NIH-funded projects examine the role of inflammation in insulin resistance and cardiovascular diseases. The goal of our research is to understand how obesity causes diabetes and to find its cure.  (Kim profile)

Lambright Lab - Spinal Muscular Atrophy, Cancer
Crystallographic, biophysical, biochemical, and cell biological approaches are used to investigate mechanisms of membrane trafficking and cell signaling. Defects in these fundamental regulatory mechanisms play critical roles in genetically linked disorders and complex disease states including cancer and diabetes.  (Lambright profile)

Lee Lab - Breast Cancer
Treatment of many human diseases, including cancer, typically involves modulation of signal transduction pathways. These pathways are functionally integrated, very plastic, and incredibly sensitive to environmental context. Our group uses a combination of experimental and computational approaches to study the organization and function of signaling networks controlling the growth, survival, and death of cancer cells. We are particularly interested in understanding the adaptive properties that cells engage when faced with anti-cancer drugs, as well as identifying genetic, non-genetic, and contextual factors that contribute to the therapeutic variability seen in cancer patients.  (Lee profile)

Lewis Lab - Pancreatic and Liver Cancer
Primary pancreatic and liver cancers are deadly malignancies characterized by the rapid decline of patients after diagnosis. Work in the Lewis lab aims to elucidate the molecules and signaling pathways involved in tumor initiation, tumor progression and metastasis, and response to therapy in these tumors, using genetically engineered mouse models, cultured primary cells, and cancer cell lines.  (Lewis profile)

Luban Lab - HIV-1, Ebola and Zika Virus
Distinguished physician–scientist Jeremy Luban, MD has been appointed professor of molecular medicine at UMass Chan Medical School and the David L. Freelander Memorial Professor in HIV/AIDS Research. Dr. Luban’s research focuses on understanding host cell factors that contribute to HIV viral replication. He has identified Cyclophilin A and Trim 5 among more than thirty HIV-1 regulatory host factors. His work will contribute to the development of drugs and vaccines targeting HIV virus infections and other disease states. NIH/NIDA named him a 2012 Avant-Garde Awardee for HIV/AIDS research.  (Luban profile)

Luzuriaga Lab - HIV1, Epstein-Barr Virus, Cytomegalovirus, Ebola Virus
Research in the laboratory is focused on understanding viral and host factors that contribute to the establishment of persistent viral infections in humans, including human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), and cytomegalovirus (CMV).  (Luzuriaga profile)

Maehr Lab - Type 1 Diabetes, DiGeorge Syndrome
Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) is the result of an autoimmune destruction of insulin producing, pancreatic beta cells. The events leading to the disease have usually occurred long before diagnosis and are based on complex interactions between genes and the environment. The currently available rodent models for T1D can only represent a limited number of patients leaving open the question how many different types of T1D exist. To overcome these difficulties and expand our understanding of T1D and other diseases targeting the immune system we are building in vitro models using human pluripotent stem cells. In those stem cell-based model systems genetic and developmental aspects of the disease can be elucidated. The long-term goal is to recapitulate the disease in a patient-specific manner and to identify novel treatment strategies.  (Maehr profile)

Ostroff Lab - Huntington's Disease, Fungal Infections
Our laboratory works at the interface of nanomaterial science and biology to develop oral DNA, siRNA, protein and small molecule delivery technologies based on beta-glucan particles processed into porous hollow microspheres loaded with multi-layered nanostructured payload complexes. We collaborate with many investigators to develop research and translational applications for this delivery technology targeting chronic diseases using gene therapy, RNAi, vaccine and small molecule inhibitor approaches.  (Ostroff profile)

Pazour Lab - Polycystic Kidney Disease and Retinal Degeneration
We are interested in the function of the mammalian primary cilium. These organelles play vital roles in the development of mammals and in the etiology of diseases such as polycystic kidney disease and blindness. Our work combines in vitro cell culture studies with mutant mouse models to understand the role of cilia in controlling kidney architecture and formation of the photoreceptor outer segment.  (Pazour profile)

Richter Lab - Autism, Fragile X Syndrome
Our lab studies the biochemistry of post-transcriptional gene expression, particularly cytoplasmic polyadenylation and translational control. We also examine how these processes influence early animal development, cell division and cellular senescence, and neuronal synaptic plasticity and memory consolidation.  (Richter profile)

Strambio De Castillia Lab - HIV-1
Caterina Strambio De Castillia grew up in Italy and received her Laurea in Biologia (equivalent to B.S./M.S.) from the University of Pavia in 1988. She obtained her Ph.D. (1992-1998) working with Gunter Blobel at The Rockefeller Universitycore.Her work has been supported by the American Cancer Society, the European Union and the Swiss National Science Foundation. In 2012, Dr. Strambio De Castillia joined the Program in Molecular Medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.  (Strambio De Castillia profile)

Tissenbaum Lab - Aging
Our work in focused on understanding the molecular mechanisms involved in the aging process using a combination of genetics, molecular biology and biochemistry. Our long term goal is to increase the healthspan (the number of active, productive years before the onset of age-associated decline) of individuals; redefining middle age.  (Tissenbaum profile)

Wang Lab - Lipodystrophy, Type 1 Diabetes
Our focus in the lab is to dissect the functional roles of nuclear receptor PPARs and their co-regulators in glucose and fatty acid metabolism and metabolic diseases, and to understand their molecular mechanisms of action. A combination of tools, including molecular biology, mouse genetics, physiology and genomics, will be employed.  (Wang profile)

Xue Lab - Tyrosinemia Type 1, Liver and Lung Cancer
Our lab uses mouse models of cancer to investigate cancer genetics and treatment. We use CRISPR genome editing to functionally dissect cancer mutations in liver and lung cancer. Projects are ongoing to develop CRISPR tools to speed up cancer gene discovery and disease gene repair.  (Xue profile)