RTI News

JULY 23, 2014  New publication  An efficient and sensitive method for preparing cDNA libraries from scarce biological samples.  Catherine H. Sterling, Isana Veksler-Lublinksy, and Victor Ambros  Nucleic Acids Res. published 23 July 2014, 10.1093/nar/gku637  [Abstract]

JULY 2, 2014  Two RNA Therapeutics Insititute faculties won 2014 UMass Life Science Moment Fund (LSMF) in one day.  Anastasia Khvorova, Ph.D., with project “Ex vivo RNAi-based therapy for modulating T cell response as a novel treatment for Graft-vs-Host Disease”,  and Neil Aronin, Ph.D., with project “CRISPR- Cas9-derived Nucleases and PTDMs for Huntingtin Disease Treatment”, were selected for funding by the 2014 UMass Life Science Moment Fund (LSMF).  The two projects will bring together investigators from both the Worcester and Amherst campuses.

JUNE 27, 2014  Craig C. Mello, PhD, Nobel Laureate and co-director of the RNA Therapeutics Institute, talks to National Public Radio about the exciting future of CRISPR. He believes medical applications using the genome-engineering tool known as CRISPR are possible in the near future, he said in an interview with National Public Radio science reporter Joe Palca. For details, click here.

JUNE 25, 2014 New publication   A single vertebrate DNA virus protein disarms invertebrate immunity to RNA virus infection.  Don B Gammon, Sophie Duraffour, Daniel K Rozelle, Heidi Hehnly, Rita Sharma, Michael E Sparks, Cara C West, Ying Chen, James J Moresco, Graciela Andrei, John C Connor, Darryl Conte, Dawn E Gundersen-Rindal, William L Marshall, John Yates, Neal Silverman, and Craig C Mello   eLife Sci. published 25 June 2014, 10.7554/eLife.02910 

JUNE 17, 2014  Victor R. Ambros, PhD, the Silverman Chair In Natural Sciences and co-director of the RNA Therapeutics Institute, has been awarded the 2014 Gruber Genetics Prize.  Dr. Ambros, along with long time collaborator Gary Ruvkun, PhD, professor of genetics at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, and David Baulcombe, PhD, professor of botany at the University of Cambridge, received the prize for their pioneering discoveries of the existence and function of microRNAs and small interfering RNAs, molecules that are now known to play a critical role in gene expression. Please join us in congratulating him on this tremendous honor!  For details, click here.

JUNE 11, 2014  New publication   Structural mechanism is revealed of how the messenger RNA of Taura syndrome virus hijacks host ribosomes using structured RNA, called internal ribosome entry site (IRES).  Koh, C. S., Brilot, A. F., Grigorieff, N., & Korostelev, A. A. (2014). Taura syndrome virus IRES initiates translation by binding its tRNA-mRNA–like structural element in the ribosomal decoding center. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. doi:10.1073/pnas.1406335111

JUNE 10, 2014 David Grunwald, PhD, Assistant Professor of RNA Therapeutics Institute won Faculty Scholar Award (FSA).  The Faculty Scholar Award was created by the UMMS Women’s Faculty Committee and the Women’s Leadership Work Group, and is funded jointly by UMMS and UMMHC to assist faculty during a finite period of increased family care responsibilities.  Dr. Grunwald was selected as a recipient of the award for June 2014 due to the innovation and technical challenges of his project across many disciplines.

JUNE 4, 2014 Anastasia Khvorova, PhD, Professor of RNA Therapeutics Institute, is featured in Exiqon Application stories.  Khvorova lab focuses on the development of novel oligonucleotide-based therapeutics, as well ways to improve delivery and tissue distribution for neurodegenerative diseases.  Her lab has been using LNA™ GapmeRs to successfully silence two different genes, which are valid therapeutic targets for neurodegenerative diseases, both in vitro and in vivo mouse and rat animal models.
 To read about her exciting research, click here.

MAY 30, 2014 New publication  A Co-CRISPR Strategy for Efficient Genome Editing in Caenorhabditis elegans.  Heesun Kim, Takao Ishidate, Krishna S. Ghanta, Meetu Seth, Darryl Conte, Jr., Masaki Shirayama, and Craig C. Mello  Genetics. published 30 May 2014, 10.1534/genetics.114.166389

APRIL 8, 2014 New publication   The Vasa Homolog RDE-12 Engages Target mRNA and Multiple Argonaute Proteins to Promote RNAi in C. elegans.  Masaki Shirayama, William Stanney III, Weifeng Gu, Meetu Seth, Craig C. Mello  Curr Biol. 2014 Mar 26. pii: S0960-9822(14)00267-X. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2014.03.008. [Epub ahead of print].

APRIL 7, 2014  Gang Han, PhD, RTI affiliated faculty, was awarded 2014 Young Investigator's Grant from Human Frontier Science Program. The HFSP supports novel, innovative and interdisciplinary basic research focused on the complex mechanisms of living organisms. The grant will support Han lab’s project on “Wireless optogenetic interrogation of non-image forming photoreceptor function by Nano-antennae” for three years and about $900,000 in total. For details, click here.

MARCH 14,2014  Melissa Moore PhD and Anastasia Khvorova PhD are among the founders of MassTERi. The Massachusetts Therapeutic and Entrepreneurial Realization Initiative (MassTERi), is a faculty-led initiative that will build upon existing efforts at the UMass Center for Clinical and Translational Science (UMCCTS) and other university organizations to support scientists who are interested in advancing development of small molecule drugs and in commercializing their innovation. More...

MARCH 14, 2014  Colin Conine, PhD candidate in Dr. Craig Mello’s lab, has been awarded the 2014 Harold M. Weintraub Graduate Student Award.  This prestigious award is sponsored by the Basic Sciences Division of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.  Nominations were solicited internationally; the winners were selected on the basis of the quality, originality and significance of their work. More…

FEBRUARY 25, 2014  Jeremy Luban, MD, David L. Freelander Memorial Professor in HIV/AIDS Research and RNA Therapeutics Institute affiliated faculty, has been elected fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology for his scientific achievement and original contributions to the field of microbiology.  More...

FEBRUARY 18, 2014  Phillip Zamore, PhD, is co-principal investigator of a Broadening Experience in Scientific Training (BEST) grant from the NIH. UMass is the first group of 10 graduate schools nationwide to be awarded. With the grant, Zamore and Cynthia Fuhrmann, PhD, assistant dean of professional and career development for the GSBS, will implement “An Integrated Curriculum and Community-Based Approach to Career Development” which will guide students and postdocs to create and implement a strategic plan for building the skills and experience needed to reach their career objectives. More

FEBRUARY 12, 2014  Phillip D. Zamore, PhD, co-director of the RNA Therapeutics Institute, and Guangping Gao, PhD, director of the Gene Therapy Center and RTI affiliated faculty, are among the four world leaders in the fields of AAV gene therapy, RNA biology and neuroscience to launch Voyager Therapeutics today. Voyager Therapeutics is a gene therapy company to develop life-changing treatments for fatal and debilitating diseases of the central nervous system (CNS). More...

FEBRUARY  6, 2014  Kelly Limoncelli received Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Awards (NRSA) for Individual Predoctoral Fellows from NIH.  Kelly Limoncell, a graduate student in Melissa Moore’s lab, will receive up to 4 years of support, which covers stipend, tuition, fees, supplies, and scientific meeting expenses.  The purpose of this training fellowship is to provide support for promising doctoral candidates who will be performing dissertation research and training in scientific health-related fields relevant to the missions of the participating NIH Institutes and Centers (ICs) during the tenure of the award.  Her project title is “Investigating the functional roles of RPS3 in RNA and DNA damage”.  For details, click here.

FEBRUARY 3, 2014 New publication  Inorganic phosphate blocks binding of pre-miRNA to Dicer-2 via its PAZ domain Ryuya Fukunaga, Cansu Colpan, Bo W Han, and Phillip D Zamore  EMBO J. published 31 January 2014, 10.1002/embj.201387176  [Abstract].

JANUARY 21, 2014 Victor R. Ambros is awarded prestigious Wolf Prize in Medicine for the discovery of the micro- RNA molecules that play a key role in controlling gene expression in natural processes and disease development. For details, click here.

JANUARY 17, 2014 New publication Endogenous U2·U5·U6 snRNA complexes in S. pombe are intron lariat spliceosomes Weijun Chen, Hennady P. Shulha, Ami Ashar-Patel, Jing Yan, Karin M. Green, Charles C. Query, Nick Rhind, Zhiping Weng, and Melissa J. Moore  RNA. published 17 January 2014, 10.1261/rna.040980.113  [Abstract].

DECEMBER 10, 2013 Rene Maehr, PhD, became an RTI affiliated faculty. His group works on pluripotent stem cell-based models of immune deficiencies and autoimmunity and has an exciting publication recently.  Kearns NA, Genga RM, Enuameh MS, Garber M, Wolfe SA, Maehr R.Cas9 effector-mediated regulation of transcription and differentiation in human pluripotent stem cells. Development. 2014 Jan;141(1):219-223.

OCTOBER 28, 2013  Gang Han, PhD, awarded  EUREKA R01.  With a perfect impact score (10) Han lab received EUREKA (Exceptional, Unconventional Research Enabling Knowledge Acceleration) RO1 grant from the National Institute of Health to develop light activated nanoparticles to form the basis of a new wireless “optogenetic” tool that promises to help map and decode previously inaccessible neural circuitry deep in the brain. For details, click here.

OCTOBER 8, 2013 Joerg Braun won Karl Lohmann Award from Germany.  Dr. Joerg E. Braun, a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Melissa Moore’s laboratory, is awarded the 2013 Karl Lohmann Award from The Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (GBM) for his doctoral research in Frankfurt am Main, Germany.  The Karl Lohmann Award is conferred every second year to reward young researchers under 35 years of age. For details, click here.

OCTOBER 4, 2013 Phillip Zamore, codirector of the RNA Therapeutics Institute shares his experience on childcare and his strong belief on work family balance in The Boston Globe.  For full articleclick here. 

SEPTEMBER 16, 2013 Victor R. Ambros is awarded Keio Medical Science Prize. The 18th Keio Medical Science Prize has been awarded to Victor R. Ambros, PhD, the Silverman Chair in Natural Science.  Keio University in Japan annually awards the Keio Medical Science Prize “to recognize researchers who have made an outstanding contribution to the field of medicine or life sciences.”  For more details, click here. 

SEPTEMBER 3, 2013  Neil Aronin, MD,  awarded grant from collaborative NIH Extracellular RNA Communication program.  He will explore the Clinincal Utility of Extracellular RNA for Therapy Development focusing on Huntington's disease. For more details about his project and other UMass awardees, click here.   

AUGUST 19, 2013 Two RTI graduate students awarded prestigious HHMI awards.  Haleen Saini, who is a 3rd year Neuroscience Program student in Dr. Melissa Moore's laboratory and, Meetu Seth, a 4th year Interdisciplinary Graduate Program student in Dr. Craig Mello's laboratory were among only 42 awardees across the nation for HHMI 2013 International Student Research Fellowships.  Both students will receive up to three years of stipend, fees and research supports. 

AUGUST 8, 2013  New publication  ASPeak: an abundance sensitive peak detection algorithm for RIP-Seq Alper Kucukural, Hakan Özadam, Guramrit Singh, Melissa J. Moore, and Can Cenik   Bioinformatics. published 8 August 2013, 10.1093/bioinformatics/btt428  [Abstract].

AUGUST 1, 2013  New publication  Long Noncoding RNA Mediates Both Activation and Repression of Immune Response Genes  Susan Carpenter, Maninjay Atianand, Daniel Aiello, Emiliano P. Ricci, Pallavi Gandhi, Lisa L. Hall, Meg Byron, Brian Monks, Meabh Henry-Bezy, Jeanne B. Lawrence, Luke A. J. O’Neill, Melissa J. Moore, Daniel R. Caffrey, and Katherine A. Fitzgerald   Science. published 1 August 2013, 10.1126/science.1240925 [Abstract].

AUGUST 1, 2013  Andrei Korostelev, PhD, awarded R01.  The Korostelev lab received a five-year R01 award from the NIH to study "Structural bases for cellular stress responses mediated by stalled translation".  The project aims at understanding the molecular mechanisms that result in high pathogenicity of bacteria; elucidation of these mechanisms may lead to development of novel antibiotics.

JULY 3,  2013  New publication from Andrei Korostelev's lab in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  The article describes a novel mode of action of an inhibitor of translation. Korostelev lab, in collaboration with the Ermolenko lab (University of Rochester), has found that blasticidin S strongly inhibits translation termination by trapping a distorted conformation of tRNA on the ribosome. This finding may serve as a platform for the development of therapeutics that specifically suppress translation termination in human diseases associated with premature termination codons.  Svidritskiy E., Ling C., Ermolenko D. N. and Korostelev A. A. "Blasticidin S inhibits translation by trapping deformed tRNA on the ribosome". Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. July 2013.

JUNE 6, 2013 Joerg Braun awarded Otto Hahn Medal. Joerg E.Braun, a postdoctoral associate in Melissa Moore's lab, was awarded Otto Hahn Medal for his outstanding PhD work. The Otto Hahn Medals were awarded at the Annual Meeting of the Max Planck Society in Potsdam, Germany, on June 5 and 6.  Since 1978, a few young and especially highly gifted researchers are awarded the Otto Hahn Medal each year – for their outstanding PhD work and to motivate them for a future scientific career. More...

JUNE 1, 2013  Joerg Braun awarded Human Frontier Science Program Organization Fellowship.
Joerg Braun, a postdoctoral associate in Melissa Moore’s lab, was awarded a fellowship for his project “Single molecule analysis of the mammalian alternative pre-mRNA splicing”. This three year award will support Dr. Braun’s work dissecting the dynamics of human spliceosome assembly. 

MAY 20, 2013  Phillip Zamore and Keith Boundy receive Umass Medical School Office of Globe Health Award.  Phillip Zamore, PhD and Keith Bounty, Resident Physician and PhD Student, receive UMass Medical School Office of Global Health award to study antiviral RNA interference in Aedes aegypti mosquitos collected at the joint US/Thai Armed Forces Medical Research Institute of Medical Sciences (AFRIMS) in Bangkok, Thailand. 

MAY 15, 2013 – Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research signs Research Agreement.
Anastasia Khvorova, PhD, Victor Ambros, PhD, and Silvia Corvera, MD have signed an agreement with David Morrissey, PhD and Novartis for a collaborative project titled “Inter and intra-cellular trafficking pathways for natural and therapeutic oligonucleotides”. This three year agreement will support research activities in the lab and share knowledge in the areas of exosome preparation and quality control, and oligonucleotide synthesis.

MAY 13, 2013  Victor Ambros is recently profiled in JCB (Journal of Cell Biology), "Victor Ambros: The broad scope of microRNAs" For full article, click here

APRIL 1, 2013  Andrei A Korostelev receives UMass Center for Clinical & Translational Science (UMCCTS) Award for his project, Novel Therapeutic Routes against Premature - Termination Disease. 

MARCH 2013  New Molecular Cell publication from Phil Zamore's Lab:
Li, X. Z., Roy, C. K., Dong, X., Bolcun-Filas, E., Wang, J., Han, B. W., Xu, J., Moore, M. J., Schimenti, J. C., Weng, Z., and Zamore, P. D. (2013). An Ancient Transcription Factor Initiates the Burst of piRNA Production during Early Meiosis in Mouse Testes. Mol Cell 50, 67-81.

JANUARY 30, 2013  Craig Mello, at opening of Albert Sherman Center, "The world will remember what we do here.."  For full article, click here

JANUARY 1, 2013  EMBO Fellowship for Joerg Braun
Postdoctoral associate Joerg Braun, in the Moore Lab, was awarded an EMBO Long-Term fellowship for his proposal "Single molecule analysis of mammalian spliceosome assembly."  This fellowship will support Joerg's work on the molecular mechanism of alternative splcing of pre-mRNAs.  Alternative splicing of pre-mRNAs allows the synthesis of multiple proteins from a single gene and is considered as a critical source of complexity in higher eukaryotes, especially in mammals.  Joerg is studying the mechanism of splicing in mammals with single molecule techniques in collaboration with the Gelles laboratory at Brandeis University.  His work aims to improve our understanding of the regulation of human gene expression and pave the way to address diseases caused by aberrant spicing.

DECEMBER 2012  Paper from Han Lab featured in Nanotech News of National Cancer Institute
"Nanoparticles Glow through Thick Layer of Tissue"  An international research team has created unique photoluminescent nanoparticles that shine clearly through more than three centimeters, or more than an inch, of biological tissue, a depth that makes them a promising tool for deep-tissue optical bioimaging.  For full article, click here

DECEMBER 17, 2012  News from the Luban Lab
Though retroviruses like HIV are best known as the cause of diseases such as AIDS, a huge portion of the human genome consists of fossil remnants of retrovirus infection from millions of years ago. The Luban Lab has discovered that one of these so-called endogenous retroviruses generates RNA that is likely to be essential for human pluripotent stem cells. Ongoing work at UMass to understand the role of this endogenous retrovirus in stem cells will aid attempts to harness stem cells for therapies of a wide-range of human diseases.

DECEMBER 10, 2012 David Grunwald PhD receives CFAR development grant

DECEMBER 3, 2012  Anastasia Khvorova PhD joins RTI  
Dr. Khvorova brings outstanding accomplishment and innovation as a team leader and chief science officer with major oligonucleotide reagent and pharmaceutical companies.  Dr. Khvorova's lab will focus on the development of novel oligonucleotide-based therapeutics and drug development; mechanism of small RNA trafficking; RNA medicinal chemistry and delivery.

NOVEMBER 1, 2012  RNA silencing to treat Huntington's disease
Two UMass Medical School researchers report on promising new developments in the quest for a treatment for Huntington's disease in the Thursday, Nov. 1, issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.  More...

OCTOBER 17, 2012  UMMS, Carnegie Institute receive U.S. patent for RNAi
Discovery by Mello, Fire holds the promise of shutting down disease-causing genes in humans.  More...

JUNE 19, 2012 Victor R. Ambros PhD receives Janssen Award for Biomedical Research
With collaborator Gary B. Ruvkun PhD, of Mass General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, the two were awarded the 2012 Dr. Paul Janssen Award for Biomedical Research today by Johnson & Johnson for their co-discovery of microRNA (also known as miRNA), tiny molecules that are now understood to play a powerful role in gene expression and regulation. For the full article click here

MAY 15, 2012 David Grunwald PhD joins RTI 
Dr. David Grunwald has decided to join the RTI faculty. He started his own group two years ago at the Technical University of Delft, The Netherlands. Dr. Gruenwald's lab is working on the interface between microscopy development and (nuclear) cell biology, with a strong focus on the travels of mRNA and nucleocytoplasmic transport. Observing the functions of individual molecules within high resolution spatial topographies with millisecond dynamics adds a unique perspective on the function of the living cell. Dr. Grunwald will move his lab to the new Albert Sherman building in early 2013.

MAY 1, 2012 Jane Freedman PhD one of two sites chosen for Translational Research Centers in Thrombotic and Hemostatic Disorders clinical studies using miRNA/mRNA.
This NIH U54 award will utilize multiple technologies and screening of an early-phase translation mRNA nanochip in humans with metabolic syndromes and determine the impact on thrombosis. Jane Freedman, MD, Director Translational Research Professor in Medicine, was awarded $3,355,400 to complete 3 clinical and translational studies over five years examining the role of mRNA and miRNA in obesity and weight loss and cardiovascular disease.

MARCH 4, 2012 Potential therapy for dyslipidemia & other diseases caused by miRNA deregulation
Long-term, efficient inhibition of microRNA function in mice using rAAV vectors.Xie J, Ameres SL,Friedline R, Hung JH, Zhang Y, Xie Q, Zhong L, Su Q, He R, Li M, Li H, Mu X, Zhang H, Broderick JA, Kim JK, Weng Z, Flotte TR, Zamore PD, Gao G.
Nat Methods. 2012 Mar 4;9(4):403-9

JULY 18, 2011 Investiture
Melissa Moore, PhDHoward Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, professor of biochemistry & molecular pharmacology, was invested as the Eleanor Eustis Farrington Chair in Cancer Research

APRIL 27, 2011 Melissa Moore PhD win Gates Foundation grant
Grand Challenge Exploration grant was awarded to Melissa J. Moore, PhDHoward Hughes Medical Institute Investigator and Eleanor Eustis Farrington Chair of Cancer Research, professor of biochemistry & molecular pharmacology to pursue an innovative global health and development research project, titled “siRNA-based Therapeutics for Preeclampsia.”

APRIL 19, 2011 RNAi-Based Therapeutic Review is published
RNAi-based therapeutic strategies for metabolic diseases
Michael P. Czech, Myriam Aouadi and Gregory J. Tesz Nat. Rev. Endocrinol. 7, 473–484 (2011)

MARCH 21, 2011 Encapsulation technology for potential RNAi therapeutics
Glucan particles for selective delivery of siRNA to phagocytic cells in mice
Gregory J. Tesz1, Myriam Aouadi1, Matthieu Prot, Sarah M. Nicoloro, Emilie Boutet, Shinya U. Amano, Anca Goller, Mengxi Wang, Chang‑An Guo, William E. Salomon, Joseph V. Virbasius, Rebecca A. Baum, Mark J. O'Connor, Ernesto Soto, Gary R. Ostroff and Michael P. Czech2 Biochem. J. (2011) 436, 351–362

MARCH 19, 2011 Gene Therapy Center a step closer to treating Central Nervous System disorders.
MicroRNA-regulated, systemically delivered rAAV9: a step closer to CNS-restricted transgene expression.
Xie J, Xie Q, Zhang H, Ameres SL, Hung JH, Su Q, He R, Mu X, Seher Ahmed S, Park S, Kato H, Li C, Mueller C, Mello CC, Weng Z, Flotte TR, Zamore PD, Gao G.Mol Ther. 2011 Mar;19(3):526-35.

JANUARY 2011 UMass Medical School and Lundbeck Inc. announce collaboration
Neil Aronin, MD, professor in medicine and cell biology, announced a research collaboration aimed at further development of a targeted therapy to slow or halt the progression of Huntington's disease using RNAi.

NOVEMBER 2010 Move Date is Announced
The RNA Therapeutic Institute is happy to announce it will be moving into the newly built Albert Sherman Center in March of 2013. To learn more about this exciting move and to see the RTI floor plan, click here.

OCTOBER 2010 UMMS Faculty Become Affiliates Of The RTI
The Directors of the RTI reached out around the UMMS campus to a vast variety of MD's and PhD's to begin building a team of outstanding researchers with specific interests and skills to have daily operational contact, in hopes to investigate ways to create new therapies that can be moved from the bench top to the bedside.

JULY 2010 RTI hires first Recruit 
Andrei Korostelev PhD,  has joined us from the University of California Santa Cruz, where he studied bacterial translation in the lab of Harry F. Noller. Dr. Korostelev will study translation and translation regulation in bacteria and eukaryotes using a combination of X-ray crystallography and biochemistry. Dr. Korostelev lab will be temporally housed in the biochemistry & molecular pharmacology until the RTI moves in 2013.

JUNE 2009 RNA Leadership Announced
Chancellor Michael Collins and Dean Terrence Flotte announced the leadership plan for the RNA Therapeutics Institute (RTI) – a key component of our Advanced Therapeutics Cluster. An executive group has been formed to govern the new institute. This group will work as a team to recruit new faculty and design the new home for RNA Therapeutics within the Albert Sherman Center. 
The executive group will be led by Nobel Laureate Craig C. Mello, PhD, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, Blais University Chair in Molecular Medicine and professor of molecular medicine and cell biology. The three other directors will be Melissa J. Moore, PhD, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator and professor of biochemistry & molecular pharmacology; Phillip D. Zamore, PhD, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator,Gretchen Stone Cook Chair in Biomedical Sciences and professor of biochemistry & molecular pharmacology; and Victor Ambros, PhD, Silverman Chair in Natural Sciences and professor of molecular medicine.