News

April-August 2021
  • The PCGI made major contributions to the recruitment of new faculty Drs. Kara Bernstein and Cornelius Taabazuing.
  • The PCGI is contributing Pilot grant funding to Dr. Cornelius Taabazuing, a new Assistant Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics.
  • The PCGI, together with the Basser Center for BRCA, joined with the Department of Biochemistry to successfully recruit Dr. Kara Bernstein to Penn. Dr. Bernstein is an Associate Professor at the University of Pittsburgh, and a renowned genome integrity researcher who has made seminal contributions to understanding homologous recombination. Her recruitment adds needed expertise in DNA repair to the PCGI and both basic and translational contributions to the Basser Center for BRCA.
  • Roger Greenberg is a co-investigator on a grant from the Wellcome Trust that was awarded to collaborator Dr. Elton Zeqiraj of the University of Leeds, in Leeds, United Kingdom.
  • Matthew Weitzman received a multi-PI R01 with Ben Garcia to continue their studies of viral modulation of epitranscriptomics and RNA modifications.
  • Sunny Shin successfully renewed an R01 award, and also received an R21.
  • Mike Lampson and Ben Black were awarded a transformative R01 Award on developing Mammalian Artificial Chromosomes.
  • PCGI-funded PI Luca Busino was awarded two new R01 grants.
  • PCGI-funded PI Junwei Shi was awarded a new R01 grant.
  • The PCGI leadership submitted a P01 application on DNA damage activation of anti-tumor immune responses. While the first submission of this application did not receive a fundable score, there is considerable enthusiasm at the NCI and a resubmission was invited. The resubmission is planned for the January 2022 deadline.
  • The PCGI celebrates many new trainee and PI accomplishments.
  • Priyanka Verma, PhD of the Greenberg lab has started as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine in the Molecular Oncology Division at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
  • Viridiana Herrera, PhD, of the Black lab, has accepted a position as an Assistant Professor at Lincoln University.
  • Postdoctoral Fellow Tim Lippert from the Greenberg Lab received the Cancer Research Institute Irvington Fellowship.
  • Xin Liu, PhD, a postdoc in the Shin lab, has received an NIH/NHLBI K99 Pathway to Independence award to support her research and transition to a faculty position.
  • Alex Price, PhD, a Research Associate in the Weitzman lab, was awarded a K99/R01 from NIAID for his work to study how RNA processing pathways regulate the formation of double-stranded RNA during infection by human DNA viruses and the cellular responses that lead to effects on protein translation. This work demonstrates the importance of viral control of RNA splicing and it overturn the dogma on host responses that are counteracted by viral strategies.  His paper on this work will soon appear in Nucleic Acids Research.
  • Nootan Pandey, PhD, in the Black lab was awarded a postdoctoral fellowship paper from the Basser Center.
  • Rachel Richards, a summer intern in the Shin lab, has been named a White House HBCU Scholar. Rachel is also a 2021 Barry Goldwater Scholar.
  • Shin lab graduate student Nawar Naseer co-authored an Expert Opinion piece for the Philadelphia Inquirer in July entitled “Vaccines give these Philly researchers hope, but the COVID-19 variants make them cautious of letting their guard down: https://www.inquirer.com/health/expert-opinions/covid-variants-vaccine-20210702.html.
  • Shin lab graduate student Marisa Egan was appointed a Penn Center for Teaching and Learning Graduate Fellow for Teaching Excellence. She also received the 2021 Penn Prize for Excellence in Teaching by Graduate Students.
  • Kurtis McCannell, a joint graduate student in the Levine and Lampson labs, has received an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship to support his dissertation research.
  • Sung-Ya Lin, a graduate student in the Levine lab, has received a “Taiwanese Government Scholarship to support her dissertation work.
  • The PCGI has contributed $1,000 in support of the Cell and Molecular Biology (CAMB) Graduate Group 24th Annual Scientific Symposium to be held virtually this year on October 21st. Distinguished CAMB alum, Dr. Scott Hensley of the University of Pennsylvania and Dr. Shawn Bediako of the NIH/University of Maryland-Baltimore County will delivery Keynote lectures.
  • Research in Cell from PCGI Leaders Drs. Michael Lampson and Mia Levine reveals that centromere proteins have evolved with centromeric chromatin structure to prevent chromosome segregation bias. This mitigates “cheating” by chromosomes with large centromeres and limits their advantage in widing up in the egg during cell division:
  • On the cover of JCI Insight, PCGI Lab of Dr. Elizabeth McDonald, along with collaborators including Dr. Sean Carlin of Penn Radiology, demonstrated a significant advancement toward precision breast cancer care:
  • Dr. Roger Greenberg and Priyanka Verma, a postdoctoral researcher in his lab, published a review on how chromatin regulates homology-directed repair and genome integrity:
  • Dr. Shelley Berger and collaborators including PCGI Investigator Dr. Eric Joyce demonstrated that p53-driven speckle association of its target genes increases their expression, contributing to the tumor suppressor functions of p53:
  • The Weitzman lab published a paper in EMBO Reports in which they report proteomics to identify interacting proteins that regulate the APOBEC3A deaminase enzyme which is linked to mutations in cancer genomes. They discovered that the CCT chaperonin complex interacts with APOBEC3A, and suggest that disruption of CCT complex in cancers may result in increased APOBEC-driven mutational activity.  The first author on this paper is Dr. Abby Green who started this work at CHOP/Penn and is now an Assistant Professor at Washington University in St Louis:
    • Abby M. Green, Rachel A. DeWeerd, David R. O’Leary, Ava R. Hansen, Katharina E. Hayer, Katarzyna Kulej, Ariel S. Dineen, Julia H. Szeto, Benjamin A. Garcia, Matthew D. Weitzman. Interaction with the CCT chaperonin complex limits APOBEC3A cytidine deaminase cytotoxiticy. EMBO Rep. 2021 Aug 4;e52145. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34347354/
  • The PCGI labs of Junwei Shi and R. Babak Faryabi, in collaboration with colleagues in the Berger and Bernt labs, published a paper on ZMYND8 regulation of the IRF8 transcription axis:
    • Zhendong Cao, Krista A. Budinich, Hua Huang, Diqiu Ren, Bin Lu, Zhen Zhang, Qingzhou Chen, Yeqiao Zhou, Yu-Han Huang, Fatemah Alikarami, Molly C. Kingsley, Alexandra K. Lenard, Aoi Wakabayashi, Eugene Khandros, Will Bailis, Jun Qi, Martin P. Carroll, Gerd A. Blobel, Robert B. Faryabi, Kathrin M. Bernt, Shelley L. Berger, Junwei Shi. ZMYND8-regulated IRF8 transcription axis is an acute myeloid leukemia dependency. Mol Cell 2021 Jul 28 ;S1097-2765(21)00587-6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34358447/
  • Praveen Allu, PhD, a postdoc in the Black lab, contributed to a collaborative study led by Dr. Katya Grishchuk’s lab on the connections between chomosomes and the microtubule-based spindle that guides their inheritance at cell division:
    • Ekaterina V. Tarasovetc, Praveen Kumar Allu, Robert T. Wimbish, Jennifer G. DeLuca, Iain M. Cheeseman, Ben E. Black, Ekaterina L. Grishchuk. Permitted and restricted steps of human kinetochore assembly in mitotic cell extracts. Mol Biol Cell. 2021 Jun 15;32(13):1241-1255. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33956511/
  • Dr. Roger Greenberg and Tianpeng Zhang, a postdoc in his lab, with collaborators at WUSTL and UT Southwestern, published a paper in the Journal of Cell Biology revealing an unexpectedly dominant role of ATR in human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs):
    • Alexandre T. Vessoni, Tianpeng Zhang, Annabel Quinet, Ho-Chang Jeong, Michael Munroe, Matthew Wood, Enzo Tedone, Alessandro Vindigni, Jerry W. Shay, Roger A. Greenberg, Luis F Z Batista. Telomere Erosion in human pluripotent stem cells leads to ATR-mediated mitotic catastrophe. J Cell Biol. 2021 Jun 7;220(6):e202011014. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33851958/
  • Tim Lippert (Greenberg Lab) published a review article on the “Abscopal Effect” accepted to the Journal of Clinical Investigation:
  • PCGI Core Leadership Member, Michael Lampson, along with fellow School of Arts & Sciences colleague Jun Ma, in collaboration with Whitehead Institute researchers Iain Cheeseman and Nolan Maier, published an article revealing how a key protein, Meikin, enables the process of meiosis to unfold:
    • Nolan K. Maier, Jun Ma, Michael A. Lampson, Iain M. Cheeseman. Separase cleaves the kinetochore protein Meikin at the meiosis I/II transition. Dev Cell 2021 Aug 9;56(15):2192-2206.e8. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34331869/
  • The Lampson lab also published a review on cell division:
  • PCGI Investigators Drs. Michael Lampson and David Chenoweth authored a paper showing how Aurora B kinase and intracellular forces regulate kinetochore-microtubule interactions dividing cells:
    • Geng-Yuan Chen, Fioranna Renda, Huaiying Zhang, Alper Gokden, Daniel Z. Wu, David M. Chenoweth, Alexey Khodjakov, Michael A. Lampson. Tension promotes kinetochore-microtubule release in response to Aurora B activity. CSHL bioRxivdoi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.06.01.127795.
  • Researchers in the Chenoweth lab published a paper describing a new method for probing both the formation and function of chromatin-associated condensates on telomeres:
  • The Weitzman lab has a paper coming out soon in the journal mSystems which uses global proteomics approaches to define how  the DNA  tumor virus Adenovirus  remodels the host proteome and affects the cellular factors that associate with the viral genome. They used a combination of whole cell proteomics together with isolation of proteins on nascent DNA (iPOND) to identify cellular DNA repair and replication proteins that are manipulated by virus infection
January-March 2021
  • PCGI Members receive national and international awards
    • Dennis Discher, Professor of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, received the 2021 Shu Chien Achievement Award that recognizes scientific accomplishment within Cell & Molecular Bioengineering of the 5000-member Biomedical Engineering Society.
    • Matthew Weitzman is serving as Chair of the Cancer Etiology Study Section at NIH, was appointed to the International Scientific Council of the Israel Cancer Research Fund (ICRF), and is on the External Advisory Board of the Yale University Cancer Center.
    • Matthew Weitzman was one of the organizers for the “2nd International Conference on Base Editing: Enzymes and Applications”.
  • Vaughn Thada, PhD joined the Greenberg lab as a postdoc in March. He recently completed his PhD studies with David Cortez at Vanderbilt University.
  • Priyanka Verma of the Greenberg lab was named an Intersectional Science Fellow and spoke at the inaugural Intersectional Science Fellows Symposium in January.
  • Katie Kixmoeller (MD/PhD Student, Black Lab) was awarded an NRSA award from the NCI on her project “Investigating the structure and function of the human centromere and kinetochore.”
  • Praveen Allu (Postdoc in the Black Lab) has received the inaugural S. Walter Englander Postdoctoral Research Award.
  • Viridiana Herrera (Postdoc in the Black Lab) was quoted in Chemical & Engineering News about her experience as an organizer for the 2020 National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Chemists and Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE). Read the article here.
  • Kurtis Mccannell joined the Levine and Lampson labs as a graduate student from the CAMB graduate group.
  • Piero Lamelza (postdoc in the Lampson lab) was awarded a Helen Hay Whitney Fellowship.
  • Trainees in the PCGI completed their work at Penn:
    • Yaroslav Morozov, PhD, Postdoctoral researcher in the Greenberg lab, has accepted a position as a Principal Scientist at Sanofi Pharmaceuticals, Boston, MA.
    • Jessica Doerner, PhD, postdoctoral fellow in the Shin lab, has accepted a position with the Global Product & Supply Emerging Leaders Program at Bristol Myers Squibb.
    • Eui Tae Kim, PhD, Research Associate in the Weitzman lab, was appointed Assistant Professor at Jeju University in Korea.
    • Antonia Bass, PhD, graduate student in the Shin lab, has accepted a position as a postdoctoral fellow at Merck & Co., Infectious Disease and Vaccines, Early Discovery, West Point, PA.
  • Nawar Naseer, graduate student in the Shin lab, co-authored a commentary in Science describing her experience with co-leading the Penn COVID-19 Contact Tracing Team. Read the article here.
  • Alex Price, PhD, postdoctoral fellow in the Weitzman lab, has received several accolades. Dr. Price was recently selected as one of the CHOP Emerging Innovators in Collaborative Research. Furthermore, he received an Imapct Score of 12 for his K99/R00 and is awaiting a final funding decision from NIAID. Finally, Dr. Price received multiple interview invitations for tenure track faculty positions at academic institutions in the U.S. and U.K.
  • NCI P01 application submitted: We submitted a P01 application for the January 25th P01 deadline. P01 members include Roger Greenberg, Michael Lampson, Dennis Discher, Sunny Shin, Igor Brodsky, Ben Black and David Chenoweth. An Internal Advisory Board comprised of Penn faculty, Shelley Berger, Ronen Marmorstein, and Andy Minn will advise on our progress. We have also assembled an external advisory board consisting of prominent investigators: Tarun Kapoor (Rockefeller University), Karlene Cimprich (Stanford University), Douglas Green (St. Jude’s Childrens Hospital).
  • Social Media Accounts: Since launching Facebook and Twitter accounts in the spring to establish a social media presence for the Center, we have built up a following of 204 people within the last 11 months. We hope to continue building a following through weekly updates. Our Twitter account is @PennGenomeInteg and the Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/Penn-Center-for-Genome-Integrity-113459983645827/. These social media accounts will be a key component to spreading awareness of Center activities and accomplishments, thus nurturing critical links to our scientific community.
  • PCGI Working Group Meetings: Monthly PCGI Working Group meetings were shifted from in-person meetings to virtual meetings so that they continued uninterrupted. Wei Tong presented our last meeting on March 15.
  • PCGI Trainee Seminars: The PCGI initiated a trainee seminar series that transitioned to a virtual format with the onset of COVID restrictions. Two trainees per lab present 25-minute talks with 5 minutes for question. Attendance has averaged 40-60 attendees for each session. This has been a particularly good format for postdocs to gain experience presenting to a general audience and an opportunity to network with other trainees and faculty.
  • PCGI External and Special Seminars: We have launched an external seminar series that covers a different research topic each month in the form of a meeting session consisting of three to four speakers. As we had hoped, the virtual platform has given us the potential to connect to more International speakers and we are excited and hopeful for continued growth with each monthly session. We have also developed a seminar series to highlight emerging stars in genome integrity. 
    • The first on October 26 was on “Genome Instability in the Germline” featuring Drs. Thomas Hurd (University of Toronto), Abby Dernberg (UC Berkeley), and Tomo Kitajima (Riken Center, Japan). We had 78 people in attendance, and the success of the series has been growing since, including more than 200 participants for our series “DNA Damage & Innate Immunity”, with excellent presentations by Drs. Sun Hur (Harvard), Andrea Ablasser (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Lausanne, Switzerland), and Russel Vance (UC Berkeley).
    • More recently, we hosted topics on “Ubiquitin Modification & DNA Damage” featuring Drs. Ivan Dikic (Institute of Biochemistry II, Frankfurt, Germany), Michele Pagano (NYU Langone), and Helle Ulrich (Institute of Molecular Biology, Mainz, Germany), and “Mechanisms of Mutagenesis” with Serena Nik-Zainal, Remi Buisson and Martin Taylor.
    • We look forward to hosting three speakers on March 29 2021: Ben Stinson, a postdoc with Joe Loparo and Johannes Walter at Harvard Medical School, James M. Dewar, an Assistant Professor of Biochemistry at Vanderbilt University, and Paul Lieberman, Hilary Koprowski, M.D., Endowed Professor and Program Leader, Gene Expression and Regulation Program at The Wistar Institute Cancer Center.
  • Intellectual Property/Entrepreneurial Activity: Roger Greenberg has founded two companies with the support of Venture Capital. He co-Founded RADD Pharmaceuticals with Tarun Kapoor of Rockefeller University. RADD is funded by Canaan Partners (Westport, Connecticut) and is developing small molecules to ATPase protein targets in cancer using technologies and approaches derived from the Kapoor and Greenberg groups. Roger Greenberg together with Elton Zeqiraj (Leeds University) and Joe Salvino (Wistar) formed JAMM Therapeutics with support of FutuRx (Ness Ziona, Israel) to develop their first-in-class deubiquitinating enzyme inhibitors for autoimmune indications. The Penn Center for Innovation negotiated the agreement with FutuRx to form JAMM Therapeutics. We will look to build on these early events by facilitating development of additional PCGI basic discoveries and promoting entrepreneurship with the Penn Center for Innovation. Dennis Discher has signed multiple licensing agreements for novel formulations that modulate a major macrophage checkpoint pathway. New patents have also been filed on related topics.
  • Equipment and Shared Resources: The PCGI has invested in equipment that will be accessible to all PCGI Core members:
    • ImageXpress Micro Confocal High-Content Imaging System for 3D image analysis. Overseen by Eric Joyce
    • MACsQuant Vyb multicolor high throughput flow cytometer
    • FiberComb DNA Molecular Combing System for DNA replication fiber analyses
August-December 2020

Research resumes in phases

  • PCGI Leaders receive multiple Penn Medicine Awards of Excellence in 2020:
    • Co-director Ben Black received the Stanley N. Cohen Biomedical Research Award
    • Co-Director Matt Weitzman received the Arthur Asbury Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award
    • Sunny Shin received the Michael P. Nussbaum Graduate Student Mentoring Award
  • PCGI Members receive numerous national and international awards:
    • David Mankoff, Professor of Radiology received the 2020 Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) Outstanding Researcher Award.
    • Liling Wan, Assistant Professor of Cancer Biology, was named a NextGen Star by the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR).
    • Golnaz Vahedi, Assistant Professor of Genetics, received the Investigators in the Pathogenesis of Infectious Disease (PATH) award from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund.
    • Matt Weitzman is currently serving as Chair of the NIH Cancer Etiology study section.
    • Roger Greenberg, Professor of Cancer Biology, Organized the Keystone Symposia on Genome Stability and DNA Repair that took place in September of 2020.
  • PCGI Leaders awarded “Discovering the Future” Grant: Two members of leadership team, Michael Lampson and Ben Black, are the first recipients of a new Grant Program offered by the Office of the Vice Provost for Research here at Penn, called the “Discovering the Future” grant. This funding program was initiated to fill a gap in funding opportunities to support more novel, “out-of-the box” research that is significantly less likely to receive external funding. Drs. Lampson and Black’s proposal “Solving the Centromere Problem for Creating Artificial Chromosomes” will be to use synthetic biology to solve the centromere problem by creating mammalian artificial chromosomes (MACs) in an animal model (mouse). The project is closely aligned with our P01 Proposal, namely via the proposed MAC Core facility Dr. Ben Black will direct. To read more on the award, click here.
  • Nawar Naseer, graduate student in the Shin lab, co-authored an Opinion piece in the Philadelphia Inquirer regarding her experience with COVID-19 contact tracing. Read the article here.
  • NCI approval for P01 application: We are preparing for the January 25th P01 submission deadline. An Internal Advisory Board comprised of Penn faculty, Shelley Berger, Ronen Marmorstein, and Andy Minn will review and advise on our progress. We have also assembled an external advisory board consisting of prominent investigators: Tarun Kapoor (Rockefeller University), Karlene Cimprich (Stanford University), Douglas Green (St. Jude’s Childrens Hospital).
  • PCGI Working Group Meetings: Monthly PCGI Working Group meetings were shifted from in-person meetings to virtual meetings so that they continued uninterrupted. Last month we heard from Mehran Makvandi with 14 of our faculty attending. We look forward to hosting Kavitha Sarma for our next meeting in February.
  • PCGI Trainee Seminars: The PCGI initiated a trainee seminar series that transitioned to a virtual format with the onset of COVID restrictions. Two trainees per lab present 25-minute talks with 5 minutes for question. Attendance has averaged 40-60 attendees for each session. This has been a particularly good format for postdocs to gain experience presenting to a general audience and an opportunity to network with other trainees and faculty.
  • PCGI External and Special Seminars: We have launched an external seminar series that covers a different research topic each month in the form of a meeting session consisting of three to four speakers. The first on October 26 was on “Genome Instability in the Germline” featuring Drs. Thomas Hurd (University of Toronto), Abby Dernberg (UC Berkeley), and Tomo Kitajima (Riken Center, Japan). We had 78 people in attendance, and the success of the series has been growing since. Our last seminar on “DNA Damage & Innate Immunity” reached 200 participants, with excellent presentations by Drs. Sun Hur (Harvard), Andrea Ablasser (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Lausanne, Switzerland), and Russel Vance (UC Berkeley). The speakers participated in the Q&A, demonstrating how inspiring and interactive the discussion became. We’re looking forward to next month’s topic on “Ubiquitin Modification & DNA Damage” featuring Drs. Ivan Dikic (Institute of Biochemistry II, Frankfurt, Germany), Michele Pagano (NYU Langone), and Helle Ulrich (Institute of Molecular Biology, Mainz, Germany). As we had hoped, the virtual platform has given us the potential to connect to more International speakers and we are excited and hopeful for continued growth with each monthly session. We have also developed a seminar series to highlight emerging stars in genome integrity.  On May 14, we enjoyed a great talk by Harvard/DFCI Investigator Dr. Neil Umbreit from David Pellman’s group on mechanisms of cancer genome rearrangements. This was our first virtual seminar with an external speaker, and its success set the stage for us to host external speakers virtually. We went on to host a special seminar in August by Jordan Becker (Oxford University) from Ross Chapman’s group and MSKCC Assistant Professor, Dr. John Maciejowski on September 14th that reached an attendance of 94 participants. We look forward to hosting Ben Stinson in March 2021, who is a postdoc with Joe Loparo and Johannes Walter at Harvard Medical School.
  • PCGI Grants to support research for interdisciplinary questions in genome integrity. Funding has been distributed to seven PCGI investigators and to support the purchase of a confocal microscope for high content screening analysis. Additional funds have gone to developing CRISPR- libraries based on the methods pioneered by Junwei Shi. CRISPR guide RNA libraries and screening expertise will be available to all PCGI members.
  • Intellectual Property/Entrepreneurial Activity: Roger Greenberg has founded two companies with the support of Venture Capital. He co-Founded RADD Pharmaceuticals with Tarun Kapoor of Rockefeller University. RADD is funded by Canaan Partners (Westport, Connecticut) and is developing small molecules to ATPase protein targets in cancer using technologies and approaches derived from the Kapoor and Greenberg groups. Roger Greenberg together with Elton Zeqiraj (Leeds University) and Joe Salvino (Wistar) formed JAMM Therapeutics with support of FutuRx (Ness Ziona, Israel) to develop their first-in-class deubiquitinating enzyme inhibitors for autoimmune indications. The Penn Center for Innovation negotiated the agreement with FutuRx to form JAMM Therapeutics. We will look to build on these early events by facilitating development of additional PCGI basic discoveries and promoting entrepreneurship with the Penn Center for Innovation.
  • PCGI Retreat and Symposium: Prior to the COVID-19 shut-down, we scheduled a PCGI retreat for June 2, 2020 at the Mutter Museum. As it became clear all gatherings would remain unfeasible, we were forced to cancel. Furthermore, we were also in the process of planning an inaugural symposium with outside investigators and had hoped to forge partnerships with other centers and institutes on campus. We intend to move forward with these plans once vaccinations allow us to resume in-person activities. As a substitute, we believe the monthly external seminars outlined above are stimulating the discussions we wish to achieve through a retreat and/or symposium in the meantime.
March-June 2020

Research paused for COVID-19 quaratine.

  • PCGI Working Group Meetings: Monthly PCGI Working Group meetings were shifted from in-person meetings to virtual BlueJeans meetings so that they continued uninterrupted. The March meeting was in-person just before quarantine. Dr. Roger Greenberg presented the April meeting, “How cell cycle checkpoints regulate DNA damage driven inflammatory signals.” In May, we heard from Dr. Golnaz Vahedi, presenting “Genetic Variation in Type 1 Diabetes Reconfigures the 3D Chromatin Organization of T Cells.” Dr. Igor Brodsky presented the June meeting, on inflammatory cell death on the immune response. We look forward to hosting Dr. Babak Faryabi in July.
  • PCGI Special Seminar: On Thursday, May 14, we enjoyed a great talk by Harvard/DFCI Investigator Dr. Neil Umbreit on mechanisms of cancer genome rearrangements. This was our first virtual external seminar with an external speaker, and its success sets the stage for us to host external speakers virtually if we continue to be unable to bring speakers physically to campus. In fact, the virtual platform could have the potential to connect us to more International speakers and we are excited to explore new options in this area.
  • Social Media Accounts Established: We have launched Facebook and Twitter accounts to establish a social media presence for the Center. Our Twitter account is @PennGenomeInteg and the Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/Penn-Center-for-Genome-Integrity-113459983645827/. These social media accounts will be a key component to spreading awareness of Center activities and accomplishments, thus nurturing critical links to our scientific community.
February 2020
  • The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) has named PCGI Investigator Dr. Liling Wan a “NextGen Star” ahead of its 2020 Annual Meeting in San Diego, April 25 - April 29. The honor provides early career scientists with career development support and increased visibility in the field. Dr. Wan will present her work in the field of cancer epigenetics at the annual meeting in a spotlight session. Read more here.
  • Dr. Charlotte Pfeifer (mentor: PCGI Investigator Dr. Dennis Discher) successfully defended her Ph.D. thesis in Physics at Penn! Her thesis title was "Genome Variation Across Cancers Scales with Tissue Stiffness -- An Invasion-Mutation Mechanism." She will be starting a postdoctoral fellowship at Rockefeller in late Spring, studying cancer from a developmental biology perspective.
  • Dr. Yaroslav Morozov (Postdoctoral Researcher; Greenberg Lab) has received the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund Postdoctoral Award. His project titled "The BRCA1-A as a Determinant of Chemotherapy Response in ATM Mutated Cells" seeks to define the molecular mechanisms of resistance to these agents in the setting of ATM deficiency, given the widespread use of these clinically important agents. Read more here.
  • Dr. Priyanka Verma (Postdoctoral Researcher; Greenberg Lab) received the mentored scientist pilot award from the Penn Ovarian Cancer Translational Center of Excellence.
January 2020
  • Laura Murillo hired as PCGI Administrative Director. Laura will manage the PCGI website and social media accounts. She has also organized PI and trainee monthly meetings and P01 meetings. In addition, Laura is collecting information for the inaugural retreat that is planned for June of 2020. Please look for more details coming soon.
  • MACS Quant Vyb: We have purchased and begun using this high throughput flow cytometer located in 523 BRB II/III that will enable PCGI investigators to perform CRISPR Cas9 screens and their subsequent validation. Dedicated technical support and training is being provided to all PCGI members. A calendar to schedule appointments for use of the MACS Quant Vyb is coming soon.
  • Shared Tech Support/PCGI: Moniher (“Monie”) Deb was hired as a research specialist A. Monie is being trained in CRISPR-Cas9 screening and use of the MACS Quant Vyb. She will provide CRISPR-Cas 9 tech support at the PCGI to facilitate access to screening for all members. Monie will be building DNA Damage response CRISPR libraries that we plan to make available to all PCGI members by early Spring 2020. Access via PennKey log-in to this database is planned as the libraries are developed.
  • High-Content Microscope: Hosted in the laboratory of Dr. Eric Joyce in CRB, this high-resolution, high-throughput confocal microscope allows imaging of chromosome 3D architecture in 384 well plates of either fixed or live samples. All PCGI members will have access to this scope.
  • NCI Site Visit for P01 application: Drs. Greenberg, Lampson, Black, Shin, Brodsky, Discher and Chenowith have assembled a preliminary P01 proposal and scheduled an NCI site visit on February 19, 2020 to present it to Program Officers. In preparation, we have assembled an Internal Advisory Board comprised of Penn PIs Shelley Berger, Ronen Marmorstein, and Andy Minn, and are holding several rehearsal meetings. We feel our proposal is very strong and has an excellent chance of funding.
  • Working Group Meetings and Seminars: We have established monthly Working Group Meetings with PCGI Leadership and Associate members, as well as monthly seminar series with presentations by PCGI trainees. These meetings and seminars have been well attended and will serve to strengthen existing collaborations and foster new ones among our researchers. Additionally, the seminars provide a platform for trainees to gain experience presenting their research and to obtain valuable feedback from a multi-disciplinary group of investigators. Our goal is to expand these seminars to include invited external speakers sometime in the next year.
  • Human Artificial Chromosome Core: The PCGI has provided funding to hire a postdoctoral researcher based in the Black Laboratory in order to develop a Human Artificial Chromosome Core. This new Core is based on the recent publication from the Black group in Cell (Logsdon et al. Cell 2019) that describes new methodologies to stably introduce artificial chromosomes into human cells. The Human Artificial Chromosome Core will be an instrumental component of the planned P01 application and will be a unique resource for PCGI researchers to study DNA damage responses, mitotic fidelity, and innate immune signals emanating from cytoplasmic DNA.
  • PCGI Retreat for Spring 2020. Administrative Director Laura Murillo is assembling information on venues in Philadelphia to host the inaugural PCGI retreat. Planning of the scientific program and invitations to other centers on campus is currently being discussed by PCGI leadership.
  • PCGI Symposium Fall 2020. An inaugural symposium is being planned for the Fall of 2020.  PCGI leadership is discussing the scientific theme of the symposium and potential invitations to outside investigators, in addition to partnerships with other centers and institutes on campus.