Phillip Zamore (HHMI/U Mass Medical School)
Molecular Biology Seminar Series
Phillip D. Zamore, Ph.D., Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator and the Gretchen Stone Cook Chair of Biomedical Sciences, is a Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, Massachusetts. He received a Bachelor's degree in biochemistry and molecular biology from Harvard University in 1986. He obtained a Ph.D. degree in biochemistry and molecular biology from Harvard in 1992. His Ph.D. research, done in the laboratory of Dr. Michael R. Green, focused on the mechanism of pre-mRNA splicing, the process by which introns are removed and exons joined to transform the initial RNA transcript of a gene into a mature mRNA that encodes a functional protein. To begin to apply biochemical methods to the molecular mechanisms underlying animal development, he joined the laboratory of Dr. Ruth Lehmann at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research for post-doctoral research, which was supported by a Life Sciences Research Foundation Fellowship and a Hood Fellowship of the Medical Foundation. This foray into Drosophila developmental biochemistry and genetics evolved into joint post-doctoral studies co-mentored by Drs. Lehmann, James R. Williamson (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), and David P. Bartel (Whitehead Institute), during which Dr. Zamore carried out the first detailed biochemical characterization of the developmental regulatory protein Pumilio.
His laboratory studies the RNA interference (RNAi) pathway, a recently discovered mechanism by which cells use small RNAs to direct the sequence-specific repression of gene expression. An international leader in the science of RNAi, the ability of double-stranded RNA to “silence” targeted genes, Dr. Zamore's experiments have shed light on how RNAi works at the molecular level, specifically identifying that it was small double-stranded RNAs, called siRNAs-generated from longer double-stranded RNA by the enzyme Dicer-that direct silencing. He now focuses his investigations on the biochemical and genetic analysis the machinery of RNAi, in hopes of applying this phenomenon to human disease.
A member of the UMMS community since 1999, he was named a 2000 Pew Scholar in Biomedical Sciences by the Pew Charitable Trusts and, in 2002, was a grant recipient under the W. M. Keck Foundation's Distinguished Young Scholars in Medical Research Program. In July 2008, became a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. He is the author of numerous high-impact papers in molecular biology and genetics. He is also a co-founder of Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, a biotechnology company dedicated to the development of small RNA molecules as therapies for human disease. In April 2009, the ASBMB will honor Dr. Zamore with the Schering-Plough Institute Award. The Schering-Plough Award was established to recognize young investigators for outstanding research at an early stage in their careers. A pioneer in the study of RNA silencing in eukaryotes, Zamore's laboratory has played a role in nearly all of the major breakthroughs in the study of RNA silencing.
What Fruit Flies Teach us About RNA Silencing
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