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Visionary Research  Dr. Nicholas Baker was awarded a $1.5 million grant over four years by the National Eye Institute to study light-responding nerve cells in the eye and the emerging link between their cellular structure and their growth and death cycle. Taking advantage of the large-eyed and genetically tractable fruit fly as a model organism, Dr. Baker’s laboratory will use genetically engineered flies and modern molecular biological techniques to identify key genes and molecules involved in regulating nerve cell survival.  The aim of these studies is to gain knowledge that can inform the design of new approaches to treating retinoblastoma, retinal degeneration, and neurodegenerative conditions.  Dr. Baker is professor of genetics, of developmental & molecular biology, and of ophthalmology & visual sciences.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013
 

Good Reading Dr. U. Thomas Meier was awarded a $1.2 million grant over four years by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences to study how cells assemble small nucleolar RNA-protein complexes that function in the modification of ribosomal and other RNAs, thereby fine-tuning protein synthesis and pre-messenger RNA processing.  Dr. Meier’s laboratory will use novel approaches to shed light on these basic cellular processes, thus providing the foundation for understanding what goes wrong in certain genetic diseases and cancers.  Dr. Meier is professor of anatomy and structural biology.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013
 

TB Tested  Drs. Bill Jacobs and Paras Jain report their development of a new diagnostic tool for Mycobacterium tuberculosis Mtb) infection in a recent online edition of the Journal of Clinical Microbiology. They generated the bacteriophage F2GFP10, an Mtb-specific virus, that injects its DNA and causes the bug to fluoresce 100-fold brighter than what can be achieved with existing tools. This exceptionally bright fluorescence allows, for the first time, Mtb detection at the low levels that are present in clinical sputum samples. It also proved to be very effective for rapid drug susceptibility testing of Mtb to several relevant antibiotics. Dr. Jacobs is professor of microbiology & immunology and of genetics and is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. Dr. Jain is an associate in microbiology & immunology.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013
 

Interesting Development  Einstein researchers, Dr. Zaven Kaprelian and MSTP student Arlene Bravo-Ambrosio, have identified the control points at the molecular level that facilitate how motor neurons extend their signal-carrying axons out of the spinal cord during development. Motor neurons carry signals from the central nervous system and instruct muscles to move. Understanding the molecular underpinnings of this key process in the development of the vertebrate nervous system lays the groundwork for future rational design of therapies for the recovery of motor function in the injured and diseased spinal cord and brain.  The duo reported their findings in the journal Development.  Ms. Bravo-Ambrosio was lead author on the paper; she is an M.D.-Ph.D. student in Dr. Kaprielian’s laboratory. Dr. Kaprielian is professor of pathology and of neuroscience.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013
 

New Approach to Chew On  In the March 30 online issue of Diabetologia, Drs. Preeti Kishore and Meredith Hawkins report that xylitol, a sugar derivative found in chewing gum, can help prevent metabolic complications associated with obesity and type 2 diabetes (T2D).  Circulating fatty acids (FA), a breakdown product from fat, are increased in obesity. These FAs hasten the progression of T2D by contributing to skeletal muscle insulin resistance, where the body’s inability to respond to insulin prevents glucose uptake by cells.  The investigators found that xylitol was able to prevent FA-induced insulin resistance and had a renewing effect on cell uptake and conversion of glucose for energy, suggesting a potentially exciting therapeutic approach for treating T2D.  Drs. Kishore and Hawkins are both members of Einstein's Diabetes Research and Training Center.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013
 

Appetite for Destruction  In a recent issue of EMBO Reports, Dr. Rajat Singh in collaboration with Drs. Jeffrey Pessin and Gary Schwartz found that impaired autophagy with age in a specific type of neuron within the brain decreases the availability of a hormone that contributes to control of food intake and energy expenditure, leading to obesity. Autophagy is a process by which a cell degrades its own components, and these new findings present an interesting target for strategies to address obesity and metabolic syndrome in aged populations. Drs. Singh and colleagues further discussed the connection between autophagy and metabolic syndrome in a review article published in the journal Diabetes.Dr. Singh is assistant professor of medicine and of molecular pharmacology. Dr. Pessin is professor of medicine and of molecular pharmacology, director of Einstein’s Diabetes Research Center and holds the Judy R. and Alfred A. Rosenberg Professorial Chair in Diabetes Research. Dr. Schwartz is professor of medicine and of neuroscience.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013
 

Good Business  On Monday, May 7, 2012, at 10 a.m., the Einstein-Montefiore Institute for Clinical & Translational Research & the offices of biotechnology and business development at Einstein will present “Medical Innovation & Business: The Technology Commercialization Initiative at Montefiore.” All members of the Einstein and Montefiore communities are invited to hear Richard Kosman, director of the office of business development, discuss this initiative. The presentation will take place in Montefiore’s Cherkasky Auditorium, located at 111 E. 210th Street, Bronx, NY (Gun Hill Rd. entrance).

Wednesday, July 31, 2013
 

A Glowing ‘Orange’  By tagging intracellular proteins with fluorescent proteins (FPs), scientists can study molecular processes in living cells. Dr. Vladislav Verkhusha and colleagues report in a recent issue of the Journal of American Chemical Society that they’ve designed a novel orange FP called LSSmOrange. It offers an extremely large difference between the wavelength of light it absorbs and the wavelength at which it fluoresces. As a result, LSSmOrange significantly broadens the usefulness of rapid microscopy imaging employing several different FPs to image living cells and tissues. When used with other FPs, LSSmOrange allows researchers to simultaneously track and quantify multiple populations of intracellular objects and to detect brief protein co-localization and protein-protein interactions. LSSmOrange will also help in designing fluorescent biosensors for studying the relationships among several biochemical activities in a living cell. Dr. Verkhusha is professor of anatomy and structural biology, a co-director of Einstein’s Fluorescent Proteins Resource Center, and a member of Einstein’s Gruss-Lipper Biophotonics Center.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013
 

Live and Let Die  In a recent issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Dr. Richard Kitsis demonstrated that the two kinds of cell death – apoptosis, a process by which cells are intentionally deleted and promptly cleaned up, and necrosis, wherein dying cells and their deteriorating contents leak out and cause bystander damage – may actually share a “unified death machinery,” despite being markedly different processes.  Dr. Kitsis’ laboratory genetically manipulated the Bax protein to show that in addition to its appreciated role in apoptosis, Bax also is a key regulator of necrosis.  These insights lead the way to a better understanding of complex pathological processes such as heart attacks and strokes that involve both forms of a cell death. They also suggest potential new therapeutic strategies for cancer, where augmented tumor cell death is the goal.  Dr. Kitsis is professor of medicine and of cell biology, director of Einstein’s Wilf Family Cardiovascular Research Institute, and holds the Dr. Gerald and Myra Dorros Chair in Cardiovascular Disease. 

Wednesday, July 31, 2013
 

An Essential Factor  In a recent issue of the journal Blood, Drs. Sanjeev Gupta and Antonia Follenzi successfully challenge the long-held view that bone marrow transplantation is of little value in the treatment of hemophilia A, the more common form of this rare bleeding disorder. Their research found that, following transplantation therapy, an essential clotting factor (FVIII) appeared in the blood of hemophiliac mice, protecting these mice from bleeding challenges. The authors also traced the source of FVIII to circulating and liver-resident macrophages, a kind of white blood cell, as well as to stem cells within the bone marrow. The study thus illuminates potential new treatment avenues for hemophilia A. The College of Medicine has filed a patent application related to this research that is available for licensing to partners interested in further testing and developing this treatment. Dr. Gupta is professor of medicine and of pathology, and holds the Eleazar & Feige Reicher Chair in Translational Medicine; Dr. Follenzi is visiting assistant professor of pathology.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013
 
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