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Dr. Richard I. Morimoto is the Bill and Gayle Cook Professor of Biology and Director of the Rice Institute for Biomedical Research at Northwestern University.

He earned his B.S. from the University of Illinois at Chicago, subsequently received a Ph.D. in Biology at the laboratory of Professor Murray Rabinowitz, University of Chicago in 1978. He then conducted his postdoctoral research in the laboratory of Professor Matthew Meselson while also working as a Tutor in Biochemical Sciences at Harvard University in Cambridge, MA. In 1982, Morimoto joined the faculty of the Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Cell Biology at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL. He has formerly served as the Chair of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Cell Biology, the Dean of The Graduate School, and the Associate Provost of Graduate Education at Northwestern. He frequently gives talks at universities and symposia throughout the world, and has been a Visiting Professor at Åbo Akademi University in Finland, Beijing University, École Normale Supérieure in Paris, Kyoto University, Kyoto Sangyo University, Osaka University, University of Rome, and Technion University in Israel. He is a founder of the biotech company Proteostasis Therapeutics, Inc in Cambridge MA, which develops small molecule therapeutics to treat diseases related to protein homeostasis. 

Some of his honors include:

Fyodor Lynen Lecturer – German Society of Biochemistry
Commandeur – Ordre des Palmes Académiques, France

Fellow – Japan Society for the Promotion of Science
Elected Fellow – American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Elected Fellow- American Association for the Advancement of Science
National Institutes of Health MERIT Award- NIGMS, NIA
Doctor of Philosophy, Honoris Causa – Abo Akademi University, Turku, Finland

Current Lab Members

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Laura Bott

Postdoctoral Fellow

laura.bott@northwestern.edu

My research focuses on understanding the underlying mechanisms in neurodegenerative diseases with the goal to identify effective strategies for treatment. My current project in the Morimoto lab aims to uncover the spatio-temporal dynamics of proteostasis capacity in healthy aging and in protein conformational diseases using C. elegans as a model system.

 

 

 

 

Renée Brielmann

Research Technician

renee.brielmann@northwestern.edu

 

As the C. elegans technician for the Morimoto lab, I perform assays such as lifespan, heat shock, and RNAi genetic screens. I train new members of the lab in C. elegans techniques and prepare the published strains you request.

 

 

 

Eirene Fithian

Undergraduate Researcher

EireneFithian2022@u.northwestern.edu

Majoring in: Biology and Science in Human Culture
Minoring in: Chemistry
From: Brooklyn, NY, USA

 

My project aims to develop a live-cell probe that can be used to study the cellular effects of protein aggregation through the quantification of clathrin-mediated endocytosis (CME) in proteostasis. The quantification of CME can then be used to measure the vesicular trafficking arms of the proteostasis network upon protein aggregation in neuronal cells. 

 

 

Sue Fox

Laboratory Manager

s-fox2@northwestern.edu

 

I am involved on projects understanding the regulation of protein homeostasis in the context of age-associated protein-misfolding diseases. Our work aims to establish a cellular model for Alzheimer’s disease and taupothies using patient-derived neurons by direct neuronal reprogramming of dermal fibroblasts.  I am also involved in small molecule screens to identify regulators of the proteostasis network that enhance the protein folding cellular environment to prevent conformational diseases.  As laboratory manager I also oversee laboratory stocks and reagent requests.

 

Rogan Grant

Graduate Student, NUIN

rogangrant2022@u.northwestern.edu

 

I am a PhD candidate in the Morimoto and Budinger/Misharin laboratories with a keen interest in using big-data approaches to better understand alterations to proteostasis in in aging and disease. I am currently studying alterations in microglial proteostasis in the mammalian CNS that may inform susceptibility to dementia in the elderly after infection. I focus heavily on bulk- and single-cell sequencing techniques, but I have now begun to explore whole-brain imaging after tissue clearing and behavioral analysis.

 

 

Trevor Hintz

Undergraduate Researcher

TrevorHintz2023@u.northwestern.edu 

Majoring in:  Biology and Math

From:  Ho-Ho-Kus, New Jersey

 

As an undergraduate researcher in the Morimoto lab, I will be exploring the specificity of the proteostatic response by working with temperature-sensitive strains of C. elegans, where I will compare the movement and chaperone production of the strains to normal N2 worms.

 

Ghania Imran

Research Technologist

ghania.imran@northwestern.edu 

I will be working on C. elegans research projects in the lab. My future goal is to pursue a Ph.D. in Marine Biology after my time in Morimoto Lab.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wendell Li

Research Technologist

wendell@northwestern.edu

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lily Liu

Undergraduate Researcher

lilyliu2022@u.northwestern.edu

Majoring in: Biology
From: Shanghai, China

As an undergraduate researcher, my current project aims to understand the characteristics of newly-developed protein folding sensors in aging and under stress in the model organism C. elegans.

 

Rick Morimoto

Professor 

r-morimoto@northwestern.edu

(847) 491-3340

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Claire Morton

Undergraduate Researcher

clairemorton2022@u.northwestern.edu

 

Majoring in: Biology
From: London, England

 

As an undergraduate researcher in the Morimoto lab, I am able to plan and carry out my own research project where I am investigating the genes involved in elevated stress resistance of the C. elegans cbd-1 mutant.

 

 

 

Rebecca Phend

Business Administrator II

rebecca.phend@northwestern.edu

(847) 467-2126

 

I manage the lab's grants, finances, and general administration. I also work with each year's co-chairs to plan the annual Midwest Stress and Molecular Chaperone meeting as well as other departmental and PPG meetings and retreats.

 

 

 

 

 

Ambre Sala

Postdoctoral Fellow

ambre.sala@northwestern.edu

 

The main focus of my research is to study mechanisms that coordinate proteostasis regulation across tissues, and to understand how these pathways contribute to aging and age-related diseases.

 

 

Thomas Stoeger

Postdoctoral Fellow (with Luis Amaral lab in Chemical and Biological Engineering)

thomas.stoeger@northwestern.edu

Thomas is intrigued by the historical and cultural biases that have shaped genetic research. He uses data-scientific approaches to contrast an understanding of these biases with an unbiased assessment of individual genes derived from multi-omic studies. His goal is to identify overlooked factors contributing to some pressing, and already intensely researched, biological questions. He currently applies these insights to study novel aspects of aging and pneumonia, and hopes that his approach will also identify novel aspects of protein homeostasis.

Xiaojing Sui

Postdoctoral Fellow

xiaojing.sui@northwestern.edu

 

My research goal is to uncover new protein quality control mechanisms and understand how their failure contributes to protein conformational diseases including neurodegenerative diseases. I do this by using cutting-edge proteomics at a massive scale, biochemistry, and genetics to manipulate specific pathways in C. elegans.

 

 

 

 

Teerana Thabthimthong

Research Technologist

teerana.thabthimthong@northwestern.edu 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clare Trinchet

Undergraduate Researcher

ClareTrinchet2024@u.northwestern.edu 

Majoring in:  Biological Sciences (concentrating in cell & developmental biology)
Minoring in:  Business Institutions
From:   Hingham, MA

I am currently working on cloning the Tau protein. I am hoping to learn various lab techniques that can be applied to the study of other neurodegenerative diseases and cancer research.

 

 

 

 

Anan Yu

Research Assistant Professor

ananyu2010w@gmail.com

 

I use a single-cell analysis approach to study the temporal and molecular details of proteostasis collapse in cell models of aging and protein aggregation. Currently, I am focusing on studying tau proteotoxicity using induced neurons obtained through direct neuronal reprogramming of patient-derived dermal fibroblasts.  With help from Sue and undergraduate students, we are exploring small-molecule strategies to restore proteostasis in cell model systems of protein aggregation.

 

 

 

Cindy Zhao

Undergraduate Researcher

CindyZhao2023@u.northwestern.edu 

Majoring in: Biology and Psychology

Minor:  Global Health Studies
From: Chicago, IL

My project focuses on designing protein biosensors with metastable properties for measuring proteostasis capacity and tissue dynamics in the model organism C. elegans. The protein dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR) is a well-studied monomeric protein that I use to introduce destabilizing point mutations. My goal is to create a collection of fluorescent DHFR protein biosensors with varying sensitivity and usage in measuring the proteostasis network. 

 

Danling Zhou

Undergraduate Researcher

DanlingZhou2024@u.northwestern.edu

Majoring in: Biology

Minor:  Global Health Studies and Data Science
From: Ningbo, China

My current project focuses on purifying wild type Tau protein and various types of mutant Tau proteins. By assessing the cell permeability, subcellular localization, and stability of Tau, I hope to study its involvement in cellular activities and how it causes neurodegenerative diseases.

Meet Our Pets

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Ellora (Ellie)
Person= Rogan Grant

Ellora (Ellie) is a lab/hound mix adopted by Rogan from PAWS Chicago in 2021. Despite spending her early life wandering the streets of Malvern, Arkansas, she has adapted well to city life. She now enjoys trips to the Green Mill, swimming in Lake Michigan, and soliciting treats from Lakeview shop-owners.

 

To maintain her connection with her origins, however, she does still enjoy the occasional scrap of street trash.

 

Ellie would like to use this opportunity to remind the reader that diversity is essential to any successful research program.

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Sgt. Pepper Kitty Soft Paws (SPKSP)
Person= Rebecca Phend

Sgt. Pepper Kitty Soft Paws was born in the bath tub of one of Rebecca's student workers at Kellogg in the summer of 2014. He was originally named "Pepper", but Rebecca's daughter wanted to name him "Kitty Soft Paws". Rebecca wanted to upgrade him to "Sgt. Pepper" His current name was born of the compromise.

 

SPKSP spends his time lounging in windows, chirping at squirrels, and has refused to learn to walk on a leash. He enjoys licking plastic bags and wine glasses and loves to greet new people at the door with loud meows and attempts to jump into their arms. 

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Zelda
Person= Rebecca Phend

Zelda was adopted in Sept. 2021 from a group that busses dogs from overpopulated kill shelters in Alabama up to Chicago where eager adopters await. She's named after fellow Alabaman and notable figure of the '20s, Zelda Fitzgerald. 

No doggy DNA tests have been run, but it has been suggested that she's a mix of terrier and basset hound. Zelda has been nicknamed "The Tank" and also "The Sausage Queen of Evanston"

She enjoys long walks, sleeping on the back of the couch, and always places a toy in her food bowl when she's finished her meal.