Doug DeSimone elected as Fellow of the AAAS

Congratulations to Doug DeSimone, Chair of the Department of Cell Biology, who has just been elected a Fellow of the American Society for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) for his contributions to cell and developmental biology.  Since 1874, the AAAS has conferred this honor on distinguished scientists, including Thomas Edison and Linus Pauling.  AAAS Fellows are nominated by groups of existing Fellows and elected by the AAAS Council based on their contributions to a wide range of STEM disciplines.  Other UVa SoM faculty elected as AAAS Fellows this year include Lukas Tamm, Chair of Molecular Physiology and Biological Physics and Wladek Minor, Professor of Molecular Physiology and Biological Physics.  Doug joins fellow Cell Biology department faculty members Judy White and Bob Bloodgood, who were previously elected AAAS fellows.

Winckler Lab discovery getting media attention

A recent article in UVa Today by Josh Barney highlights recent work from the lab of Dr. Bettina Winckler that challenges scientific dogma about how neurons stay healthy by disposing of cellular waste products. Neurons are large cells whose processes can extend over long distances in the body.  Since most neurons have to survive the entire lifetime of an individual without dividing, it is important that they be able to turn over and destroy defective proteins. Up to now, it has been assumed that the neurons can do this locally throughout the cell (including the cellular process called dendrites) using organelles called lysosomes. This recent work (published in the Journal of Cell Biology with Dr. Chan Choo Yap as first author) shows that neurons transport their cellular waste products from the dendrites back to the cell body (the part of the cell closest to the nucleus) for destruction in a Rab-7 dependent manner. Mutations in Rab-7 can result in a serious neurological disease (Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease). Dr. Winckler was also interviewed about this work by the local NBC TV affiliate station NBC 29.

Congratulations to André Landin Malt from the Lu Lab!

Congratulations to André Landin Malt from the Lu Lab!

His image, won our first image of the month competition.

“The mysteries of neural tube closure.” E8.75-E9.0 Wt Mouse Embryo stained for nuclear and membranes markers.


Congratulations to Jessica Neville Little from the Dwyer lab for her recent publication in Human Molecular Genetics!

Congratulations to Jessica Neville Little from the Dwyer lab for her recent publication in Human Molecular Genetics! The paper is entitled: “p53 deletion rescues lethal microcephaly in a mouse model with neural stem cell abscission defects.”




Ryan D’Souza wins Best Poster Presentation at 2018 FASEB SRC Conference

Congratulations to Ryan D’Souza (Casanova lab) for winning Best Poster Presentation at a recent 2018 FASEB SRC conference – Small GTPases in Membrane Processes: Trafficking, Autophagy and Disease.

Three Cell Biology Faculty are Recipients of new 3 Cavaliers Grants from the Office of the VP for Research

In the first round of funding for a new seed-funding initiative, called the 3 Cavaliers Fund, designed to promote cross-disciplinary research, three cell biology faculty members are participants in two of the funded teams.  The program is run out of the Office of the Vice President for Research using funding from the Strategic Investment Fund:

Christine Thisse and Xiaowei Lu from Cell Biology have teamed up with Ray Keller from the Biology Department on a project entitled: “Building an in vitro Model for Neural Tube Defects”.  Bernard Thisse from Cell Biology has teamed up with Kyle Lampe and Rachel Letteri from Department of Chemical Engineering on a project entitled: “Engineering Cell-adhesive Microparticle Systems to Enable in vitro Modeling of Mammalian Neural Development”.


Four cell biology faculty become MilliPub Club members in 2018

Four cell biology faculty members have recently joined the SoM’s MilliPub Club by having one of their publications garner 1000 or more cumulative citations.  Bernard Thisse and Christine Thisse have each received this recognition for their 2008 paper in Nature Protocols entitled: “High-resolution in situ hybridization to whole-mount zebrafish embryos”.  This protocol has now become the standard protocol in virtually all zebrafish labs around the world.  Noelle Dwyer’s MilliPub paper was published in Science in 1993 and is entitled: “An osmosensing signal transduction pathway in yeast.”  Chan Choo Yap received this recognition for her 2005 paper inScience on “Antisense transcription in the mammalian transcriptome.” The department congratulates all four of these faculty for their achievement; citation by one’s professional peers is certainly one of the more important measures of the impact of our scholarship.

Jim Casanova and Bettina Winckler will be new Co-Directors of the Cell & Developmental Biology Graduate Program

Dr. Doug DeSimone, Chair of Cell Biology, has announced that Dr. James Casanova and Dr. Bettina Winckler, both Professors in the Department of Cell Biology, have been appointed as Co-Directors of the Cell & Developmental Biology Graduate Program.  Both of these researchers have extensive experience in training PhD students in their laboratories, teaching graduate courses and administering graduate programs.  Dr. DeSimone expressed the department’s appreciation to Dr. Ann Sutherland, who has been the Director of Graduate Studies for cell Biology for the past four years.


Jessica Neville Little awarded NIH F30 Pre-Doctoral Fellowship Award

The Department of Cell Biology congratulates Jessica Neville Little, an MSTP (MD-PhD) student working in Dr. Noelle Dwyer’s laboratory, who has been awarded an NIH F30 Pre-Doctoral National Research Service Award, a fellowship program for MD/PhD students. The title of her funded project is “Defective abscission and apoptosis of neural progenitor cells in a novel model of microcephaly”. The goal of the research is to understand how mutation of the kinesin Kif20b motor protein results in microcephaly through apoptotic pathways.

Katrina McNeely awarded Wagner graduate fellowship

Congratulations to Katrina McNeely for being awarded a Wagner Graduate Fellowship.  Katrina is a graduate student in the Neurosciences Graduate Program and is conducting her dissertation research in the laboratory of Dr. Noelle Dwyer in Cell Biology. She is studying the Kinesin6 family member Kif20b which is involved in cytokinesis in the developing brain; it plays an important role in regulating adult brain size.