MD/PhD candidate Alex Neil in the Mirkin lab,
found that mutations in the flap endonuclease (Rad27/FEN1) result in
the dramatic increase in (GAA)n repeat expansions in vivo, which led
him to propose a new mechanism for repeat instability involving
lagging-strand template-switch during DNA replication.
This work was done in collaboration with the Tainer labs at Lawrence
Berkeley National Laboratory and UT M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, the
Grasby lab at University of Sheffield and the Hamdan lab at King
Abdullah University of Science and Technology.
Learn more >
Former Graduate Student Allen Su and Professor
Catherine Freudenreich, of the Tufts Department of
Biology, recently published the following
paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
In the paper, Su and Freudenreich show that that R-loop-induced
deamination of cytosines is responsible for causing chromosomal
breaks at an expanded CAG repeat sequence, as well as loss of repeat
units (contractions). R-loops are structures that form when
transcribed RNA remains bound to its DNA template to form a stable
RNA:DNA hybrid. Expanded CAG repeat tracts are the cause of several
human diseases, including Huntington’s disease and myotonic muscular
dystrophy. Su and Freudenreich were able to show that the repeat
contractions were caused by base excision repair, a pathway used in
other circumstances to repair damaged DNA bases. Intriguingly, the
R-loop dependent double-strand breaks were caused by the MutL gamma
endonuclease, which is known to recognize structured DNA and cause
nicks, defining a new mechanism for how R-loops can generate DNA
breaks. The results have implications for human repeat expansion
diseases and provide a paradigm for how RNA:DNA hybrids can cause
genome instability at structure-forming DNA sequences. Read the
Congratulations to Michael Romero, who has
received a five year NSF award "ABR: Melding Mathematical and
Theoretical Models of Stress" totaling $1,025,381!
Welcome to Biology. Norah Warchola is a new
lecturer in the Department of Biology, where she has been a
part-time lecturer since 2016. She received her B.S. in biology and
her Ph.D. in ecology and evolution from Stony Brook University.
Previously, she was a postdoctoral research associate at Harvard and
at Tufts, studying Fender's blue butterfly and Bartram's
Scrub-Hairstreak butterfly. A member of the Ecological Society of
America, she has published in the Journal of Applied Ecology
and the Journal of Insect Conservation.
"When we factored in climate change along with all the other threats to shorebirds, we found that 47 of the 49
species we evaluated were at a higher risk of extinction than scientists previously believed," says Michael Reed,
a professor of conservation biology at Tufts University. Scientists and conservationists team up to protect imperiled
Read more >
Rachel Bonoan, PhD Student looks for clues into
honey bee colony declines
using hives on the Grafton Campus.
Well done to Gina Mantica, a PhD Student who recently had an article published in the
The article is a result of a science communication workshop that she attended this summer.
Congratulations to Prof. Elizabeth Crone, who has recently been invited to become an external
member of the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters. She was invited to accept the nomination as an external member
in recognition of her outstanding academic merits.
New Weapon to Fight Dangerous Infections
Tufts researchers find drugs already approved for other uses in people help
frogs survive deadly E. coli by changing their cells' electrical charge.
was written by Jean-Francois Pare, Ph.D., and
Dr. Michael Levin joined by Christopher J. Martyniuk
of the Center for Environmental and Human Toxicology and Department of Physiological
Sciences, University of Florida Genetics Institute, College of Veterinary Medicine,
University of Florida, Gainesville.
Congratulations to everyone, Tufts Biology was ranked
3rd in the nation by
Congratulations to Fallon Durant and Dr. Michael Levin, whose research has just come out
Fallon's paper also got the cover of the issue, featuring a homage to M. C. Escher's art.
Also key contributors from our department were Junji Morokuma, Kate Williams, and Dany Adams.
Congratulations to Dr. Eric Tytell, whose NSF Career
award "BIOMAPS: Comparative analysis of locomotor biomechanics and
control in fishes" got funded in the amount of $910K for the next
five years. This prestigious award is a testament of Eric's recognition by
the scientific community.
Congratulations to Dr. Ben Wolfe, whose research
proposal for NSF MCB Systems and Synthetic Biology was approved for funding.
Prof. Ben Wolfe received a grant from National
Institute of Food and Agriculture/USDA totaling $387,783 to study
"Linking patterns with processes in phyllosphere microbiome
Prof. Mimi Kao together with Prof. Ani Patel
from Department of Psychology were selected to receive a Tufts
Congratulations to graduate student Kaylinnette Pinet
who presented her research at a conference sponsored by the Society
for Developmental Biology (Woods Hole, MA). Her poster was awarded
first prize in the graduate poster award competition.
New research led by Tufts University shows that the
invasive European paper wasp, Polistes
dominulus, plays a role in facilitating sour
rot disease in the absence of other insects.
Wasps and wine: paper wasps found to contribute to sour rot grape
disease, a scourge of wine industry
Congratulations to Simran Kausha, who has been selected to receive 2017 Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Outstanding Contributions to Undergraduate Education Award.
Congratulations to Mitch McVey, who has been selected to receive 2017 Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Faculty Mentoring Award.
Dr. Levin and Allen Discovery Center at Tufts
use artificial intelligence to gain insight into the biophysics of cancer
Artificial intelligence uncovers new insight into biophysics of cancer.
Professors Levin and Adams publish new book
Professors Levin and Adams have published a new book titled
of the Curve: Hidden breakthroughs in the biosciences'. Michael Levin is the Vannevar Bush Professor, Department of Biology,
and the director of the Allen Discovery Center at Tufts and Tufts Center
for Regenerative and Developmental Biology, Tufts University.
Dany Spencer Adams is a research associate professor, Department of Biology,
and Tufts Center for Regenerative and Developmental Biology affiliate,
Allen Discovery Center at Tufts, Tufts University.
2016 List of 10 Top Science Books
Congratulations to Sara Lewis, whose book Silent Sparks made it onto
the 2016 list of 10 Top Science Books @
Tufts researchers uncover possible source of genetic
error behind a dozen debilitating diseases
Tufts University researchers have discovered a possible explanation
for the occurrence of a genetic error that causes over a dozen
neuromuscular and neurodegenerative disorders, including
Huntington's disease, myotonic dystrophy and forms of
spinocerebellar ataxia. Jane Kim, Ph.D., who was a
research assistant professor in Professor Mirkin's lab
when the research was conducted and who is the paper's first author,
said the model suggests answers to two questions that have puzzled
researchers. The findings are published in Nature Structural &
Read More >
Two McLaughlin Lab research
assistants won first prize and Graduate student gives talk
Two undergraduate research assistants in the McLaughlin lab,
Justine Epiney (Summer Scholars Award 2016) and
Hannah Harris (Russell L. Carpenter Summer Internship 2016)
presented their research at a conference co-sponsored by the Society
for Developmental Biology & International Society for Development
(Aug. 4-7th; hosted in Boston, MA). Their poster won first prize for
the Undergraduate Best Poster competition! At this same meeting -
PhD candidate, Kyle Jewhurst, was the only graduate
student selected to give a talk in a special Regeneration/Repair
session of this meeting.
Two Lily Glidden Award Recipients Named
The Department of Biology congratulates Katherine Kurth
and Xinruo (Amy) Guo for being selected recipients
of the Lily Glidden Award. Katherine Kurth, a masters student in the
Conservation Medicine program, will be using her award to travel to
Botswana to participate in an EcoTraining camp, and Xinruo Guo, an
undergraduate student, will be traveling to Tokyo, Japan to
participate join an ongoing research program.
The Lily Glidden Award
Lily Glidden ended her last adventure in Kaeng Krachan National Park, Thailand,
January, 2014 at the age of 24. She was traveling and observing the wildlife in
southeast Asia after completing an internship in southern China. Lily planned to
pursue a life as a biologist or a veterinarian, but after graduation from the
Washington Wilderness School in 2008 and from Tufts University in 2012, she pursued
other dreams for the next two years, taking internships and positions that brought her
closer to the wildlife she loved. She spent time in the western U.S. working with
coyotes, wolves, and other mammals, and in southern China collecting and tagging
bamboo pit vipers for relocation. Between jobs, Lily explored the natural world
on her own terms, often backpacking alone into the farthest wilderness she could
find. She loved to laugh and her infectious personality inspired others.
Read more >
The Russell L. Carpenter Fund for Teaching and Research in
Please enjoy this recently created document about The Russell L.
Carpenter Fund for Teaching and Research in Biology at Tufts
University. It was established in 1983 by Dr. Cynthia McFadden and
Dr. Russell F. Carpenter in honor of their father, distinguished
Tufts alumnus and Professor of Zoology, Russell LeGrand "Bud"
Carpenter, A24, H77.
about The Russell L. Carpenter Fund
for Teaching and Research in Biology.
The Department of Biology published
the first edition of its Newsletter
is for Biology alumni and was distributed via email. We hope to include news
from past undergraduates and graduate students in future issues.
Congratulations to Mitch McVey for his promotion to the Full Professor rank.
Dr. Ben Wolfe was selected to be the Bernstein Faculty Fellow for 2016-2017!
This is an award given to a junior faculty member who is a few years into his research moves on to a new project. As a Fellow, Ben becomes the recipient of a prestigious faculty development program sponsored by prominent members of the Tufts community to foster the work of outstanding faculty members.
Prof. Ben Wolfe has been highlighted in
Nature. Congratulations to Ben with this exceptional distinction.
Read more >
The Tufts IGERT program in Soft Material Robots (led by
PI and Director, Barry Trimmer) was the largest team
contingent in the first International Grand Challenge in Soft
Robotics (#softroboticsweek2016) that took place in Livorno, Italy
in April. Ten students travelled to the week-long
workshops and presentations then showed off their latest
deformable robots in both manipulation and terrestrial trials.
The Trimmer lab received a three year $610,000 grant from the NSF to
study the "Neuromechanics of soft-bodied locomotion" and (with co-PI
David Kaplan) another three year $616,724 NSF grant to develop "Biocomponent
devices: developing actuators from insect muscles". During the
summer the Trimmer lab (with Eric Tytell and co-PIs at Johns Hopkins
and Cornell) began a five year $1,800,185 research project, funded
by the Army Research Office to investigate "Dynamic tuning of
instabilities for high power movements in deformable structures".
Dr. Trimmer also participated in the following international
- Keynote Talk "Animal Model Systems for Soft Robots" at the
Intelligent Autonomous Systems conference at Shanghai Jiao Tong
University, Shanghai, China. 3-7 July 2016.
- Plenary Talk "Non-Pneumatic Soft Robots: Design through
Biomimetics" at the conference Towards Autonomous Robotic
Systems (TAROS-16) at the University of Sheffield, UK. 28-30
- Invited talk at the European Conference on Mathematical and
Theoretical Biology (ECMTB 2016), University of Nottingham, UK.
11-15 July 2016. On "Biology and the Control of Soft Robots"
- Invited talk "Real BioRobotics: Using Biology in Robots" at
the UK-Japan Workshop on Bio-inspired Soft Robotics. Sydney
Sussex College, University of Cambridge, UK. 14-15 July 2016.
- In addition, it was announced in June that Soft Robots, a
journal published by Mary Ann Liebert Inc., with Barry Trimmer
as Editor-in-Chief was recognized as having the highest impact
factor of all robotics journals.
Dr. Sara Lewis'
opinion piece, "Are
fireflies flickering out?"
featured by CNN.
Michael Reed's groundbreaking studies featured
Michael Reed's groundbreaking studies on the role of climate change in shrinking
of coastal birds populations was featured in
Professor Sara Lewis' first book, "Silent Sparks:
The Wondrous World of Fireflies" was published by
Princeton University Press.
For centuries, the beauty of fireflies has evoked wonder and delight.
Yet for most of us, fireflies remain shrouded in mystery: how do fireflies
make their light? What are they saying with all that flashing? And what do
fireflies seek in a mate? Written for a general audience, this beautifully
illustrated book uncovers the science behind the spectacle, revealing
remarkable stories of passionate romance, treachery, and deadly poisons
among these stunning ambassadors for Earth's natural magic.
NuA4 initiates dynamic histone H4 acetylation to promote
high-fidelity sister chromatid recombination at post-replication
gaps. Nealia C.M. House, Jiahui Yang, Stephen Walsh, Jonathan Moy,
C.H. Freudenreich (2014). Molecular Cell Sept. 18, 55(6). doi:
10.1016/j.molcel.2014.07.007. PMID: 25132173.
Chromatin modifications and DNA repair: Beyond double-strand breaks.
Nealia C.M. House, Melissa R. Koch, Catherine H. Freudenreich.
Frontiers in Genetics (Cancer Genetics), (2014). 05 September 2014 | doi: 10.3389/fgene.2014.00296.
RTEL1 Inhibits Trinucleotide Repeat Expansions and Fragility.
Aisling Frizzell, Jennifer H.G. Nguyen, Mark I.R. Petalcorin,
Katherine D. Turner, Simon J. Boulton, Catherine H. Freudenreich,
and Robert S. Lahue. Cell Reports (2014). Volume 6, Issue 5, 13
March 2014, Pages 827–835; doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2014.01.034. PMID:
Tytell, E.D., Hsu, C.-Y., and Fauci, L.J. (2013).
The role of mechanical resonance in the neural control of swimming in fish.
Zoology in press. doi: 10.1016/j.zool.2013.10.011
Lobo, D., Solano, M., and Bubenik, G. A., (2014),
A linear-encoding model explains the variability of the target
morphology in regeneration, Journal of the Royal
Society Interface, 11: 20130918
Lobikin, M., and Levin, M., (2014),
Endogenous bioelectric cues as morphogenetic signals in vivo,
chapter 15 in The Fields of Cells, edited by D. Fels
and M. Cifra, in press