Weeks Laboratory News!


Colleen Kellenberger Appointed Lineberger Basic Science Postdoctoral Fellow

Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center1 Oct 14 -- Colleen has been awarded a National Research Service Award as a trainee in the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center Postdoctoral Training Program. This award will support Colleen's work focusing on understanding RNA genome structure in cancer-related viruses, especially HIV.



Matt Smola Gives Invited Talk at Cold Spring Harbor Conference

Matt Smola Photo28 Aug 14 -- Graduate student Matt Smola presented his work on the structures of non-coding RNAs at a Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory conference. In his invited talk, Matt emphasized how little is known about lncRNA structures but, nonetheless, the many functional insight that can be gleaned from rigorous structure analysis.



Liz Dethoff and Gregg Rice Invited to Speak at RNA Society Meeting

Dethoff & Rice Photo1 June 14 -- Postdoc Liz Dethoff and graduate student Gregg Rice have been invited to present talks at the annual meeting of the RNA Society, held this year in Quebec City, Canada. They will share their work directed towards solving the RNA secondary structure folding problem, higher-order structure of the Dengue virus RNA genome, and HIV-1 RNA genome structure.



Steve Busan Speaks at Research Computing Symposium

Busan Photo20 May 14 -- Steve gave a talk at the Research Computing Symposium, which highlighted creative use of high performance computing at UNC. Steve shared his approach and innovations in analysis of massively parallel sequencing data for high-resolution RNA structure analysis.



Gregg Rice Receives Ledoux Award

Rice Photo6 August 13 -- Gregg was awarded the Chemistry Department's Ledoux Award, which is presented "to an outstanding third or fourth year doctoral student for excellence in chemistry."




Christine Hajdin and Andy Lavender Receive Impact Awards

Impact Award1 June 13 -- Christine Hajdin and Andy Lavender have been awarded Impact Awards by the UNC Graduate School. The Impact Awards "recognize students with research that has an impact on challenges faced in North Carolina and beyond -- successful projects increase our understanding of these challenges and provide hope for solutions." Both students were recognized for their efforts to understand, and ultimately devise therapeutics against, RNA viruses.


Weeks Lab Undergraduates Publish in Biochemistry

UTP Photo25 April 13 -- Work entirely designed, implemented, and interpreted by UNC undergraduates has been published in Biochemistry and is highlighted on the journal web page. Many viruses encode their genetic information in RNA molecules and these RNAs can have complex structures that are essential for efficient replication. The UNC undergraduates discovered that the RNA genome has a complex higher-order structure with three domains, each of which corresponds to an essential viral function. The work was carried out as part of the UNC Undergraduate Transcriptome Project, designed to help undergraduates explore their potential for independent creativity, to fuel their passion for science, and to be a model for engaging undergraduates in a research university.



Steve Busan to Present Work at CHDI Conference in Venice, Italy

CHDI Logo8 April 13 -- Steve Busan will present his work on the structure of the huntingtin mRNA at the CHDI conference in Venice, Italy. Steve is identifying allele-selective structures in this disease-associated RNA, with the goal of informing new therapeutic strategies.






Dr. Weeks Elected AAAS Fellow

AAAS Logo30 November 12 -- Dr. Weeks has been elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Fellows are elected in recognition of their distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications. Dr. Weeks was recognized for distinguished contributions to the development of technology predicting the structures of RNAs and for the application of this technology to problems of biological importance.




Liz Dethoff Awarded NIH Postdoctoral Fellowship

NIH Fellowship1 July 12 -- Liz has been awarded a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award by the National Institutes of Health. This award will support her work on understanding how virus-born infectious diseases are mediated by RNA genomes.




Eva Archer to Give Chemistry Commencement Address

Eva Archer24 April 12 -- Eva Archer, an undergraduate researcher in the Weeks lab, has been selected to give the commencement address at the Chemistry Department graduation ceremony. She will represent the class of 2012 for this year and share her thoughts with her fellow students, faculty, and gathered parents and family.




Weeks Lab Undergraduates to Graduate with Honors

Undergraduates2 April 12 -- All three of the terrific senior undergraduate researchers in the lab -- Ge Zhang, Eva Archer and Nicholas Watts -- successfully defended their independent research projects before panels comprised of three UNC professors. Each will now graduate from UNC with Honors, a major achievement!





Dr. Weeks Interviewed by Honors Carolina

Honors Carolina1 April 12 -- Dr. Weeks was recently inverviewed by Honors Carolina on his work with undergraduates, especially his commitment to mentoring students in independent research as part of the Undergraduate Transcriptome Project. [See the interview.]



Matt Smola Awarded NSF Graduate Research Fellowship

Matt Smola30 March 12 -- Matt Smola has been awarded a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. The highly competitive NSF Fellowship recognizes Matt's achievements in science and his long term potential in scholarship, teaching and outreach.




Weeks Lab Researchers Share Work with Nobel Laureate

Nobel Workshop14 March 12 -- Graduate student Christine Hajdin and Postdoc David Mauger presented their work at an RNA Workshop with Nobel Laureate Thomas Cech. The workshop was organized by Postdoc Nate Siegfried.




Matt Smola and Gregg Rice Highlighted in the Biophysical Society Newsletter

Newsletter1 November 11 -- The work of graduate students Matt Smola and Gregg Rice, who served as teaching assistants for the 2011 Biophysical Society Summer Course in Biophysics, was highlighted in the recent society newsletter. There are great quotes from both students -- [pdf]!




Justin Low Receives Award at the Symposium on RNA Biology: RNA Tool & Target

NC RNA Society22 October 11 -- Justin presented a talk at the Symposium on RNA Biology, held biennially at the North Carolina Biotechnology Center. Justin discussed his work focused on "SHAPE-Directed Discovery of Potent shRNA Inhibitors of HIV-1" and won one of the outstanding student seminar awards.



Andy Lavender's Structure Prediction Corroborated

HCV Pseudoknot12 October 11 -- Andy has been developing new ways of predicting the tertiary structures of biologically important RNA molecules. Last year he, in collaboration with Feng Ding and Nikolay Dokholyan, predicted the structure of a key functional element in the RNA genome of the hepatitis C virus [Biochemistry 49:4931 (2010)]. The structure of this RNA was recently solved [Structure 19:1456 (2011)] and is very similar to Andy's model, which now represents one of the very best de novo predictions to date.



Jake Grohman Presents at 2011 Nucleocapsid Meeting

Nucleocapsid Conference 201118 September 11 -- Jake travelled to Barcelona, Spain to present a talk at the 2011 Nucleocapsid meeting on his work focused on inventing ultrasensitive approaches for analyzing RNA structure in complex biological environments, especially inside viruses.



Dr. Weeks Receives NIH EUREKA Award

NIGMS EUREKA1 September 11 -- Professor Weeks has received a EUREKA Award from the National Institutes of Health. The EUREKA (Exceptional, Unconventional Research Enabling Knowledge Acceleration) program supports exceptionally innovative investigators and projects that, if successful, will have an unusually high impact. Dr. Weeks and his colleagues seek to create a rapid and generic approach for discovery of small molecules that bind RNA specifically and elicit precise and useful biological effects.



Liz Dethoff Appointed Lineberger Basic Science Postdoctoral Fellow

Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center16 August 11 -- Liz has been awarded a National Research Service Award as a trainee in the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center Postdoctoral Training Program. This award will support Liz's work focusing on understanding RNA genome structure in cancer-related viruses.



Nate Siegfried Awarded NIH Postdoctoral Fellowship

NIH Fellowship15 August 11 -- Nate has been awarded a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award by the National Institutes of Health. This award will support his work on developing novel ultra-high throughput approaches for RNA structure-function analysis. Nate is currently a co-author on a methods manuscript in the lab and is well on his way to creating new, lasting RNA-directed technologies.



Christine Hajdin Gives Talk at 2011 RNA Society Meeting

RNA Conference 201114 June 11 -- Christine will travel to Kyoto, Japan to present a talk at the RNA Society Meeting on her work entitled "ShapeKnots: Accurate SHAPE-directed RNA Secondary Structure Prediction, Including Pseudoknots". Pseudoknots play important roles in gene expression and viral replication and are highly overrepresented in critical functional motifs. Christine has created a blended experimental and computational algorithm for discovering these motifs and is now searching for functional pseudoknots in the HIV-1 RNA genome.



Dr. Weeks Appointed Distinguished Professor

UNC1 July 11 -- Dr. Weeks has been appointed Kenan Distinguished Professor by the University's Board of Trustees. Dr. Weeks earned this distinction from the Provost's office, which considers nominations selected from stellar faculty throughout the UNC campus.



Christine Hajdin Receives Dobbins Award

Dobbins Award28 April 11 -- Christine was awarded the Chemistry Department's James T. Dobbins Award, which is presented "to an outstanding third or fourth year doctoral student for excellence in chemistry."




Justin Low to Present at Biochemistry Research Retreat

Biochemistry26 April 11 -- Justin has been selected to present his work entitled "SHAPE-Directed Discovery of Potent shRNA Inhibitors of HIV-1". Justin's work focuses on using SHAPE technology to design highly effective inhibitors of HIV-1 replication and has broad implications for designing diverse classes of RNA-directed therapeutics.



Ge Zhang Inducted into Phi Beta Kappa

Phi Beta Kappa22 April 11 -- Ge is one of four Chemistry Majors who has been initiated into the Phi Beta Kappa National Honor Society for Spring of 2011. The ideal Phi Beta Kappan "has demonstrated intellectual integrity, tolerance for other views, and a broad range of academic interests". The organization celebrates and advocates excellence in the liberal arts and sciences. Ge is a member of the Undergraduate Transcriptome Project (the UTP) in the lab.



Dr. Weeks to Address UNC Honors Students

Johnston Center19 April 11 -- The interactive talk will focus on the HIV genome and undergraduate research. Dr. Weeks will share his experiences in leading a National Science Foundation-supported program called the Undergraduate Transcriptome Project (the UTP) at UNC. Undergraduates in this program work together to plan, implement, interpret, and communicate research focused on significant problems in biology, currently focused on understanding the RNA genome structure of a model icosahedral virus.



Eva Archer Chosen to Represent UNC at Research in the Capital Symposium

Undergraduate Research01 April 11 -- Eva will join other students from the greater UNC University system and will meet with North Carolina legislators to discuss the important role of original research, scholarship, and creative performance in undergraduate education. Eva is a leader in the Undergraduate Transcriptome Project, the UTP, in the Weeks lab.



David Mauger Receives American Cancer Society Postdoctoral Fellowship

Amercian Cancer Society28 March 11 -- This grant will support David's work on the development of new experimental approaches to analyze the role of RNA structure in viral replication. David is currently a co-author of two reviews from the laboratory on high-throughput RNA structure analysis.