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Lab News

In May, while attending conferences and speaking in the U.K., Prof. Rick Morimoto was able to catch up with Prof. Sheena Radford (University of Leeds) and Prof. Ritwick Sawarkar (University of Cambridge). Below, they are pictured on the lawn of St. John's College in front of the Bridge of Sighs.

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Lab members Lena Katzenstein and Ghania Imran model the lab's morning drinkware preference.

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The Morimoto Lab is in the news for our 5-year grant from the Hevolution Foundation, working with the Proteostasis Consortium to study healthy aging. 

Read more about the grant and research HERE

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The Morimoto Lab has welcomed Lena Katzenstein as a visiting scholar from Furtwangen University in Schwarzwald, Germany. Lena will be focusing on investigating chaperone-substrate interactions in C. elegans while in the lab. Willkommen, Lena!

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Recent Morimoto lab graduates, Kaitlyn Hung and Danling Zhou, gave their final presentations to the lab in the annual Undergraduate Symposium. 

Lab Manager, Sue Fox, presented them with custom beach towels, featuring images from their talks, as graduation gifts. Great work, Kaitlyn & Danling!

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Congratulations to Morimoto lab undergraduate research students, Kaitlyn Hung and Danling Zhou, who were awarded Departmental Honors on their senior theses. They're graduating with honors!

Kaitlyn Hung was also awarded the Ivring Klotz Prize for Basic Research on her senior honors thesis. Great work, Kaitlyn!

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Congratulations to former Morimoto lab undergrad research student Trevor Hinz (NU '23) for his admission into the Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine (Nutley, NJ) for fall '24! 

 

During his time in the Morimoto lab, Trevor worked on, The endogenous metastable proteins as sensors of proteostatic stress in C. elegans.

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The Morimoto Lab welcomes Tom Volpe who has joined us as a Senior Research Associate focusing on understanding the epigenetic regulation of proteostasis collapse as well as the nature of germline signal that triggers it. Welcome to the lab, Tom!

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Xiaojing Sui, Alejandro (Alex) Gama Rodriguez, and Tom Volpe of the Morimoto Lab recently attended Cold Spring Harbor's Protein Homeostasis in Health and Disease meeting. Professor Richard Morimoto was one of the organizers. You can view more photos from the meeting here.

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Congratulations to Morimoto Lab alumni, Rogan Grant who has been selected as a 2024 Schmidt Science Fellow! You can read more about Rogan's "Path-breaking" research here

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The Morimoto Lab welcomes Kanishk Kapoor who will be joining us for the summer as an undergraduate research intern.

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Congratulations to Kaitlyn Hung who will be pursuing her PhD in Biological Sciences in Public Health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Danling Zhou who will be pursuing her PhD in Life Sciences with the Driskill Graduate Program at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine

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Members of the Morimoto Lab headed to the lakefront to view the April 08 solar eclipse. As scientists, they knew not to stare directly into the 94% hidden sun and all have returned safely to the lab with full vision intact.

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The Morimoto Lab has welcomed Tom Labrousse as a visiting scholar from École normale supérieure in Paris, France. Tom will be working on his master's thesis research in the lab. Bienvenue, Tom!

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Thank you to all of the participants of the 29th Annual Midwest Stress Response and Molecular Chaperone Meeting (MWSM)

Photos from the conference are posted here.

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In December, the members of the Morimoto Lab celebrated the end of the calendar year with the traditional secret gift exchange and much merriment. View all photos here

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Rick was able to reunite with John Labbadia, Ritwick Sawarkar, and Olivia Casanueva at St. Johns in Cambridge on a beautiful, sunny day in the U.K. 

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The Morimoto Lab has welcomed two new members with the start of a new academic year. Welcome to graduate researcher, Allison Kim 

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and welcome to undergraduate researcher, Sophia Tully! 

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Lab member, Kaitlyn Hung attended the Goldwater Symposium on August 19  and presented a poster on her summer research entitled, Examining Tissue-Selective Properties of Proteostasis Network Modifiers.

 

She was selected as best poster in biology and medicine and also voted best figure and best organization.  

 

Congratulations, Kaitlyn!

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Susan Reese has now returned to Berkeley after a wonderful summer of learning and working in the lab. We look forward to her future visits!

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Lab alumni, Eirene Fithian and Myles Reed received their white coats at Weill Cornell Medicine on Aug. 15. Congratulations, Eirene and Myles! The future of medicine is looking bright. 

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Nearly all members of the Morimoto Lab enjoyed the annual Molecular Biosciences department picnic along the lake at the end of July. Everyone was able to hold still for a moment for the yearly lab photo before getting back in line for American BBQ joy. 

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Welcome to the Morimoto Lab

We study the regulation of the heat shock response and the function of molecular chaperones and the proteostasis network to maintain the functional health of the proteome, to ensure optimal cellular health and to promote longevity. Our current interests are: to understand how different tissues in C. elegans sense diverse forms of environmental and physiological stress and communicate proteotoxic stress signals between tissues to determine organismal health, to determine the mechanisms by which proteostasis collapse occurs in aging and the relationship between proteostasis failure and other markers of aging.  These observations are used to study cell stress responses and proteostasis in patient-derived direct differentiated neurons to develop small molecule strategies to restore the proteostasis network to delay or prevent proteome mismanagement that occurs in Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, ALS and other protein folding disorders.

The Proteostasis Network

Protein Quality Control (PQC) is regulated by the Proteostasis Network (PN) that controls protein synthesis, folding, transport and degradation of all proteins to ensure their stability and function. We study the properties and regulation of cell stress responses, molecular chaperones, the ubiquitin-proteasome and autophagy-lysosome system at the organismal level using C. elegans and in patient derived induced neurons to examine the mechanisms of proteotoxicity in cells and tissues against proteotoxic damage.

Aging Biology

Aging is associated with the appearance and accumulation of non-native proteins with folded states that are highly aggregation-prone and amyloidogenic. We are interested in the molecular basis of quality control failure in aging, that we have termed Proteostasis Collapse, which is associated with a functional decline in specific arms of the PN leading to protein aggregation.

Proteostasis in Neurodegenerative Diseases

Alzheimer's disease, ALS, Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease, Frontal Temporal Dementia and other neurodegenerative diseases are all associated with age-dependent protein aggregation and cellular dysfunction.  We have used both C. elegans and induced neurons to discover how protein misfolding and aggregates interferes with cellular function and to discover small molecules that enhance chaperone expression and function. 

The Heat Shock Response

All cells (and organisms) respond to environmental stress such as elevated temperatures and other abiotic stressors by activation of HSF1 and selective transcriptional activation of molecular chaperones and other components of the PN.  In isolated cells in tissue culture, the heat shock response (HSR) is regulated cell autonomously but in C. elegans, the HSR is regulated cell non-autonomously by the AFD sensory neuron to confer cellular healthspan and lifespan.

The Proteostasis Consortium

Northwestern’s Richard Morimoto leads a team of scientists including Ana Maria Cuervo at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Judith Frydman at Stanford University, Dan Finley at Harvard Medical School, Steve Finkbeiner at the Gladstone Institutes at University of California San Francisco, Jason Gestwicki at University of California San Francisco, and Jeff Kelly and Evan Powers at The Scripps Research Institute. Together, our research teams form the Proteostasis Consortium, studying the role of protein quality control in human aging and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Additional information on our research and the Proteostasis Consortium Wednesday Seminars be found at https://www.proteostasisconsortium.com/.

Contact Us

Please send cover letters, CVs, research plans, and other relevant documents to rebecca.phend@northwestern.edu if you'd like to apply to join the lab.

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