Breaking the Mold: Thy Pham

Season 3 features stories of breaking the mold. In our second episode, we’ll meet Thy Pham, a fifth-year graduate student in the Bartel lab. After moving to the U.S. from Vietnam at age 20, she learned English while delving into biophysics and computer science courses, opening a door to a career that she hadn’t realized was available to her. At…
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As a teenager, Pierre Ankomah planned to live his entire life in Ghana. As he was finishing high school, however, his mother studied in the United States for a semester and encouraged him to attend college in the US. She thought a liberal arts education would allow her son to explore his many varied interests before selecting a career path.…
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Elavl1 Impacts Osteogenic Differentiation and mRNA Levels of Genes Involved in ECM Organization

Posttranscriptional gene regulation by Adenylate Uridylate (AU) rich element RNA binding protein, Elavl1 has been implicated in embryonic development as well as progenitor cell differentiation. Elavl1 binds to hundreds of cellular messenger RNAs predominantly through interactions with AU-rich elements (AREs) found in the untranslated regions (UTRs) and functions by regulating their stability. Biological functions of Elavl1 during osteogenic differentiation of…
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Any medication is, in one sense, a molecular shape. The prescribing physician is hoping that it will lock on to complementary shapes in the body and create a positive change. As the body’s own molecular shapes have come into greater focus over the past century, it has enabled researchers to create even more precise medications for a wider range of…
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Over the last several years, researchers at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and the Wellcome Sanger Institute, UK have led an effort to systematically identify the genes and proteins that cancer cells heavily depend on for survival. These molecules, known as dependencies or vulnerabilities, could be promising targets for new precision drugs. This project, called the Cancer Dependency…
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Tissue-resident macrophages are highly specialized to their tissue-specific microenvironments, activated by various inflammatory signals and modulated by genetic and environmental factors. Osteoclasts and microglia are distinct tissue-resident cells of the macrophage lineage in bone and brain that are responsible for pathological changes in osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s disease (AD), respectively. Osteoporosis is more frequently observed in individuals with AD compared to…
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A stroke, like any traumatic event in the body, triggers an immune response and understanding this immune response is critical to improve patient outcomes and nominate new therapeutics. But immune responses in the brain are difficult to study in humans, because the brain is closed off from the rest of the body. The MISTIE III clinical trial offered researchers like…
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Antibody Response May Drive COVID-19 Outcomes

COVID-19, the source of the current pandemic, may be caused by a single virus, but it has a variety of presentations that make treatment difficult. Children, for example, almost exclusively experience mild or asymptomatic COVID-19, while adults can develop severe or even fatal COVID-19. But children who contract COVID-19 are at risk for a rare but serious syndrome called multisystem…
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Venki Murthy Shares the Science of Smell via Podcast Interviews

MCB faculty Venkatesh Murthy has been appearing on the podcast and interview radio circuit, discussing the neuroscience of smell. More people are listening to podcasts than ever before, and discussions about smell’s role in cognition are particularly salient right now, because COVID-19 often causes anosmia, or a loss of sense of smell. In a February 9 segment for the radio…
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While PCR testing has been used widely for COVID-19 diagnosis, it only provides information on who is currently infected. Antibody testing can tell who has been previously exposed to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, a metric that is essential for tracking spread across a population. It may also, as a study recently published in the journal Nature Communications shows,…
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