Microbiology and Physiological Systems
Professor Guangping Gao
Professor Gao received his Ph.D. in Biological Sciences from Florida International University and did postgraduate fellowships at the World Health Organization (at Florida International University) and the Institute for Human Gene Therapy (at the University of Pennsylvania). He currently serves as the Director of the Gene Therapy Center and the Scientific Director of the UMMS-China Translational Research Initiative at UMass Medical School. His research involves the discovery, development and use of adeno-associated virus vectors for gene therapy of genetic diseases and the study of miRNA functions in mammals. His research team works on isolation, characterization and vectorology of novel AAV vectors from primate tissues, molecular mechanisms of AAV evolution and diversity, and molecular interactions between endogenous AAV, AAV vector, host genomes and innate RNAi defense pathways. He also develops novel strategies for rAAV gene therapy of an inherited neurodegenerative disease, Canavan Disease, using novel AAVs that can cross the blood-brain-barrier for efficient CNS gene delivery and endogenous miRNA-mediated posttranscriptional de-targeting. He holds over 25 patents.
Professor and Chair Allan Jacobson
Professor Jacobson earned his Ph.D. in Biology from Brandeis University and served as a postdoctoral fellow at MIT. His research focuses on cytoplasmic aspects of the post-transcriptional regulation of gene expression. Specifically, he studies the regulation of mRNA stability in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, and the mechanisms that dictate rapid decay of two classes of unstable mRNAs: those that are inherently unstable and those that are normally stable, but are destabilized by the presence of a premature nonsense codon. His team analyzes the function of coding sequence elements required for both types of rapid decay as well as isolating and characterizing mutants incapable of degrading either or both classes of mRNA. The latter approach has led to the identification of several trans-acting factors essential for mRNA degradation. Specific interactions of these factors are being analyzed by genetic approaches.