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PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR

Jeannie T. Lee, M.D., Ph.D.
Professor of Genetics and Pathology, Harvard Medical School
Molecular Biologist, Massachusetts General Hospital

Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Professor Lee is also Co-Director of the Harvard Epigenetics Initiative. She specializes in the study of epigenetic regulation by long noncoding RNA using X-chromosome inactivation as a model system. The lab has made several contributions towards understanding how RNA directs chromatin and gene expression change. Professor Lee is an Elected Member of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, and is the recipient of the 2010 Molecular Biology Prize from the National Academy of Sciences. She is also a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and has been named a Distinguished Graduate Award of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Professor Lee has served on the Board of Directors of the Genetics Society of America.  She received her A.B. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Harvard University and obtained M.D.-Ph.D degrees from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.  Dr. Lee began her work on epigenetic regulation at the Whitehead Institute/MIT with Rudolf Jaenisch and served as Chief Resident of Clinical Pathology at the Massachusetts General Hospital.  As a young investigator, she received the Basil O’Connor Scholar Award from the March of Dimes and the Pew Scholars Award. In 2011, she co-founded RaNA Therapeutics to harness the potential of long noncoding RNAs to treat human disease.

     


RESEARCH FELLOWS

 

Eric Aeby, Ph.D.

Guided by a strong interest for ncRNAs, I studied tRNAs biogenesis in the parasite Trypanosoma brucei during my PhD in the Lab of Dr. André Schneider in Bern, Switzerland. Soon after my PhD, I joined the Lab of Dr. Joachim Lingner at EPFL in Lausanne, Switzerland to study telomeric chromatin composition in human, which allowed me to broaden my field of expertise. I will now address the mechanisms by which lncRNAs regulate chromatin structure and function. I will tackle this questions combining genetic approaches and state-of-the-art proteomics analysis. My strong interest in field herpetology and captive breeding of reptiles also reflects my fascination for the biological world.

 

Rodrigo Aguilar, Ph.D.

I received my bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry from the Universidad de Concepcion and my Ph.D. in Molecular Biology at Universidad Andres Bello, both in Chile. My doctoral thesis under supervision of Dr. Martin Montecino was focused in epigenetic control of gene expression using differentiating stem cells and neuronal cells. Since I was especially attracted to understand gene repression, I joined to Dr. Lee’s Lab to study long non-coding RNAs in the context of X chromosome inactivation.

 

Lieselot Carrette, Ph.D.

I am a Belgian doctor in Chemistry, with expertise in Organic Chemistry and specifically the synthesis and interactions of DNA, RNA, peptides and proteins, which was gathered during my Master and PhD studies in the group of Prof. Annemieke Madder at Gent University. During my postdoctoral stay in the Lee lab, I want to learn and apply this fundamental background in its relevant biological context. Using short synthetic oligonucleotides, I want to selectively interfere in epigenetic silencing.

 

Hsueh-Ping (Catherine) Chu , Ph.D.

I earned my bachelor's degree from National Yang-Ming University in Taiwan. In 2004, I came to United States for PhD education at University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. After graduation, I joined Dr. Jeannie Lee's lab as a postdoctoral fellow. I am interested in the function and regulation of X-chromosome pairing. 

 

Catherine Cifuentes-Rojas, Ph.D.

I received my bachelor's degree in Bacteriology and Clinical Laboratory from the Universidad del Valle and my master's degree in Microbiology/Immunology from the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, both in Colombia. Then, I completed my PhD in Genetics at Texas A&M University where I worked under the supervision of Dr. Dorothy Shippen to identify and characterize the telomerase RNA subunits of the model organism Arabidopsis thaliana. I recently joined Dr. Jeannie Lee's lab as a postdoctoral fellow where I am interested in studying how non-coding RNAs are recognized by Polycomb proteins in mammals.

  Brian Del Rosario , Ph.D.

I received my bachelor's degree in molecular and cell biology from Cornell University.  Then I completed my PhD in microbiology at the University of Virginia.  At UVA, I was mentored by Dr. Lucy Pemberton and studied the molecular mechanisms of the histone chaperone Nap1.  My current research interests include determining how chromatin associated factors function as molecular switches to regulate gene dosage.


Teddy Jegu , Ph.D.

I received my PhD in Molecular Biology at the University of Paris-Sud in France where I studied the role of SWI/SNF chromatin remodeling complexes during plant cell cycle and development. I joined Dr. Lee's lab as a postdoctoral fellow where I am interested in studying the role of long noncoding RNAs in 3D organization of mammalian chromosomes.

  Yesu Jeon, Ph.D.

I received both my undergraduate and graduate degrees from Seoul National University in Korea, where I spent most of my time working on DNA replication and cell cycle regulation until I joined the Lee Lab. I am currently interested in chromosome dynamics during and after X-chromosome inactivation (XCI).

 

  Hungoo Lee, Ph.D.

I received my Ph.D. degree in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry from Rutgers University. During my Ph.D. I studied the epigenetic regulatory roles of Polycomb/Trithorax group proteins in Drosophila under the guidance of Dr. Vincenzo Pirrotta. I joined the Lee Lab as a postdoc to explore the potential functions of non-coding RNAs in diverse epigenetic processes by interacting various chromatin modifiers.

 

 

Hyun Jung Oh , Ph.D.

I completed my Ph.D. at KAIST (Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology), where I studied the mechanisms underlying tumorigenesis with specific focus on the function of cancer-associated genes in the regulation of the cell cycle. Having studied the mechanisms of how these genes are normally regulated and how their deregulation leads to human diseases, I became interested in epigenetic regulation of gene expression and thus, I joined the Lee lab to study the function of ncRNAs in epigenetic regulation of X-chromosome inactivation. I am particularly interested in identifying new ncRNAs involved in X-chromosome inactivation  

  Michael Rosenberg, Ph.D.

I received my B.Sc. degree in biology and physics from Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel. Then, I joined the laboratory of Prof. Shoshana Ravid at the Hebrew University, for my Ph.D studies in the field of biochemistry and cell biology. My research focused on the mechanisms controlling filament assembly and cellular localization of myosin II motor protein in non-muscle cells. After completing my Ph.D studies, I decided to make a sharp move to the field of epigenetics by joining the young lab of Dr. Asaf Hellman at Hebrew University, where I spent two years studying the role of DNA methylation in creating inter-individual phenotypic differences. My current research in Dr. Lee’s lab is dedicated to exploring the interactions between long non-coding RNAs and chromatin modifiers.

Arneet Saltzman, Ph.D.

I completed my PhD in Dr. Ben Blencowe's lab at the University of Toronto, where I studied alternative splicing and nonsense-mediated mRNA decay. As a postdoctoral fellow in the Lee lab, I will continue to pursue my interest in RNA biology by studying interactions between ong non-coding RNAs and chromatin regulatory factors.

 

Hongjae Sunwoo, Ph.D.

During my PhD study with Dr. David Spector at Cold Spring Harbor Lab, I became fascinated by long non-coding RNAs (ncRNA) and characterized Men epsilon/beta as structural elements of nuclear paraspeckles.  For postdoctoral work, I am turning my attention to two of the most famous ncRNAs, Xist and Tsix of the X-inactivation pathway.  Here in the Lee lab, I will study how these and other long ncRNAs are involved in epigenetic regulation.

 

 

Attila Szanto, M.D., Ph.D.

I received my MD and PhD from the University of Debrecen, Hungary. After spending a few years on studying a transcription factor, PPARg in macrophages and dendritic cells and its function in lipid metabolism and innate immunity I became interested in basic gene expression regulation and non-coding RNAs. Therefore I joined the Lee Lab and my current research is focused on non-coding RNA-driven epigenetic regulation in differentiating embryonic stem cells. 

 

 

Chunyao Wei, Ph.D.

I completed my undergraduate studies at University of Science and Technology of China, and earned my PhD under the guidance of Dr. James Patton at Vanderbilt University, where I studied the expression and functions of microRNAs during early zebrafish embryonic development. With a continued strong interest in noncoding RNAs (ncRNAs), I joined Dr. Lee's lab as a postdoctoral fellow to study potential roles of small ncRNAs in X-chromosome inactivation and their interactions with long ncRNAs. 

 



RESEARCH SPECIALISTS

 

 

Roy Blum, Ph.D.

I graduated with honors from the Neurobiology department at the Tel Aviv University, Israel, where I studied with Prof. Yoel Kloog the anti-cancer therapeutical potential of Ras inhibitors. For my first postdoctoral position I joined the laboratory of Prof. Elaine Wilson at NYU School of Medicine, and characterized the transcriptome of fetal and adult prostate stem cells in their physiological niche. My second postdoctoral position was at the group of Prof. Brian Dynlacht at the NYU Cancer Center, where my research focused on investigation of genome-wide remodeling of epigenetic landscape during myogenic differentiation. I then joined as a senior research scientist to work in the laboratory of head of NYU cancer center, Prof. William Carroll. My studies explored epigenetic mechanisms leading to relapse of pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia. At Jeannie Lee's lab I serve as a bioinformatician and apply my background in big data analysis to a variety of genome-wide studies conducted by the lab members.

Barry Kesner, Ph.D.

I graduated from the Cell and Developmental Biology graduate program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and more recently completed a post-doc in the Gene Therapy Center at the same university. My specialty is protein functional characterization using structural dynamics and phylogeny. I am currently analyzing NGS and Gene Chip data as a bioinformatician.

 



GRADUATE STUDENTS

 

David Colognori

I received my B.S. and M.S. degrees in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology from Yale University, where I worked in the lab of Dr. Joan Steitz. I am currently a graduate student in the Biological and Biomedical Sciences program at Harvard University, and am primarily interested in novel roles/mechanisms of eukaryotic non-coding RNAs. In the Lee lab, I am investigating mono-allelic gene expression and spreading of epigenetic silencing along the X chromosome during X inactivation.

Tom Dial

I graduated with a B.S. in Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics from UCLA, where I worked on generating iPS-derived muscle progenitor cells in the lab of Dr. April Pyle. As a graduate student in the Molecular and Cellular Biology department at Harvard, my research focus is on small molecule reactivation of the inactive X chromosome.

John E. Froberg

I graduated from Northwestern University, where I studied nucleosome positioning and epigenetic silencing with Dr. Jonathan Widom. Because I can't get enough snowstorms and harsh winters, I moved to Boston from Chicago and I began a PhD in Harvard's Biological and Biomedical Sciences program in 2011. In the Lee lab, I study the biochemistry of RNA-protein complexes involved in X-inactivation.

Andrea Kriz

I received my B.S. in Biology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where I researched the regulation of divergent transcription in Professor Phillip Sharp’s lab. Currently, I am a PhD student in the Biological and Biomedical Sciences program at Harvard University. I am interested in studying how three dimensional chromatin structure impacts X chromosome inactivation and other cellular processes.

Nicholas Ramirez

I'm a graduate student in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology at Harvard. I was an undergraduate at Brandeis, where I worked on RNA metabolism pathways under Dr. Melissa J. Moore. In the Lee Lab, my goal is to understand the mechanics of epigenetics through the lens of X-chromosome inactivation.

Chen Yu Wang

I received my MD from National Taiwan University. After completing my military service as a medical officer in Taiwan's Air Force, I start my graduate study in the Biological and Biomedical Sciences program at Harvard. My current research interest is in the role of long noncoding RNAs in epigenetic regulation.

 

 


THE INDISPENSABLE CREW

Montserrat Michelman, Laboratory Manager

I have a B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Barcelona in Spain. My research career started at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts. In 1995, I started working as a Research Specialist/Lab Manager in the Genetics Department in the laboratory of Dr. Philip Leder. In 2005, I met with Dr. Jeannie Lee, and was happy to start working here in the Lee Lab. My current duties include responsibilities as Lab Manager, and work with hES research projects studying X chromosome inactivation. I enjoy traveling, biking, hiking and cooking.

 

William Press, Research Technician

I have a B.Sc in Plant Science and Agriculture from The University of Nottingham School of Biosciences and an M.Sc. in Quality Systems Management from the National Graduate School, Falmouth MA.  My research career includes the Developmental Biology Lab headed by Jerome Gross at MGH, The Epithelial Biology Lab headed by Carolyn C. Compton at MGH, Collagenesis Inc. a tissue engineering company based in Beverly, MA, The Harvard Gene Therapy Initiative directed by Richard Mulligan at HMS, The Alzheimer's Research Lab at MGH headed by Brad Hyman and BioView an automated FISH microscopy company based in Rehovot Israel.  I will apply my diverse background to the efficient management of the lab's transgenic mice and other projects. I enjoy photography, biking, cooking and walking with Sebastian the family dog.

 

 

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