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Lab News

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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Several alumni of the Morimoto Lab gathered recently at the Stress Proteins in Growth, Development and Disease Gordon Research Conference in Tuscany, Italy. Pictured below are;  Rick Morimoto, Brian Freeman, James West, Patricija van Oosten-Hawle, Laura Bott, Veena Prahlad, Ambre Sala, Lea Sistonen, Carmen Krammer Nussbaum, Jian Li, and Pia Russ-Mattjus. Tutto bello!

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Carmen Krammer Nussbaum, Patricija van Oosten-Hawle, and Veena Prahlad, all alumnni of the Morimoto Lab, enjoying a post-conference dinner together. 

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The lab celebrated Rogan Grant's successful thesis defense, "From Alveolar Infection to Microglial Dysfunction: an integrative model of central nervous system inflammation resulting from SARS-CoV-2 pneumonia" with a fond congratulations dinner. 

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The other side of the table:

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Sue Fox, Lab Manager, is highly skilled in selecting fun and thoughtful mementos. 

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On Friday, June 9th, the Morimoto lab gathered for an Undergraduate Symposium featuring graduating seniors, Cindy Zhao and Trevor Hinz.

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Cindy Zhao's presentation was, "Designing and characterizing metastable protein biosensors for monitoring proteostasis in C. elegans

Mentor:  Laura Bott

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Trevor Hinz's presentation was, "Endogenous metastable proteins as sensors of proteostatic stress in C. elegans"

Mentor:  Xiaojing Sui

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The Morimoto Lab is thrilled to welcome two visiting members for the summer, Anat Ben Zvi, visiting professor from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel and Susan Reese, visiting undergraduate research intern from University of California, Berkeley.

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Welcome, Anat and Susan!

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The Morimoto Lab attended the Undergraduate Thesis Awards ceremony in support of graduating seniors, Trevor Hintz and Cindy Zhao. 

Trevor's honors thesis is titled, "Endogenous Metastable Proteins as Sensors of Proteostatic Stress in C. elegans" and Cindy's honors thesis is titled, "Designing and characterizing metastable protein biosensors for monitoring proteostasis in C. elegans"

Pictured below, from left to right, Alejandro Rodriguez Gama, Rick Morimoto, Laura Bott, Cindy Zhao, Trevor Hintz, Teerana Thabthimthong, Xiaojing Sui, and Sue Fox. 

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Pictured below, from left to right, Laura Bott, (mentor to Cindy), Cindy Zhao, Rick Morimoto, Trevor Hintz, and Xiaojing Sui (mentor to Trevor). 

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The Morimoto Lab welcomed new Northwestern University President, Michael Schill at the "Chill with Schill" event on May 30th. View pictures of the lab with Poppy the Pony here

Pictured below are Xiaojing Sui and Alejandro Rodriguez Gama with President Schill and First Dog, Max. 

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The Morimoto Lab hosted the 5th Annual Proteostasis Consortium retreat from May 15-16 on Northwestern's Evanston campus. 

Research teams flew in from labs across the country to continue their work to study and solve aging, with the risk for age-associated diseases being an example of highest priority.

View pictures from the retreat here

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Congratulations to Xiaojing Sui for her presenation, Global proteome metastability response in isogenic animals to missense mutations and polyglutamine expansions in aging, at the Midwest Protein Folding conference.

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The Morimoto lab is excited to welcome Michael Brouse! Michael is an undergraduate researcher implementing genetically-encoded fluorescent biosensors to study proteostasis in human cells.

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Congratulations to Kaitlyn Hung, who has been awarded the undergraduate Goldwater Scholarship to continue her work with Post Doctoral Fellow, Catherine Shafer, this upcoming academic year (pictured below). 

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Congratulations to Ambre Sala, who has accepted the role of Group Leader with the department of Cell Biology at he I2BC (Institute for Integrative Biology of the Cell) in Gif sur Yvette in France. Au revoir et bonne chance, Ambre! You will be missed.

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Congratulations to Thomas Stoeger for his paper in Nature Aging, Aging is associated with a systemic length associated

transcriptome imbalance

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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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