Mariana Federica Wolfner is Cornell University’s Goldwin Smith Professor of Molecular Biology and Genetics. Her lab is interested in the actions and evolution of the molecules, genes, and physiology that underlie fertility. She and her mentees and collaborators have dissected how males, via their seminal proteins, actively modulate the physiology and behavior of mated female Diptera, with impacts on the evolution of those traits. Her lab and collaborators also uncovered molecular mechanisms that ‘activate’ Drosophila eggs to initiate embryogenesis. Mariana, a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, was honored to receive the 2018 GSA Medal from the Genetics Society of America.
John Abrams is a Professor in the department of Cell Biology and Chair of the Genetics, Development and Disease graduate program at UT Southwestern. His group studies the molecular physiology of cell death. They apply high throughput genetic approaches to explore two biomedical themes. One organizing theme explores the p53 regulatory network, which is deranged in most human cancers. They built innovative tools to interrogate p53 function in Drosophila, zebrafish and mouse models and, using these, discovered that p53 tonically acts to suppress transposons. Current projects are directed toward understanding how p53 functions to restrain mobile elements and tests the clinical utility of this 'transposopathy' model. A second and related research program examines gene-directed programs that specify programmed and unprogrammed cell death.
Gwyneth Card is a Group Leader at HHMI's Janelia Research Campus. Her group studies the neural mechanisms and circuit architectures that underlie behavior choice for ecologically relevant, visually-guided behaviors of the fly. Their work combines high-throughput, high-resolution behavioral quantification with genetic, electrophysiological, and functional imaging techniques.
A. Bernardo Carvalho is an Associate Professor of Genetics at Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. His group works on the identification of Y-linked genes and on the evolution of gene content of Y-chromosomes in a large number of Drosophila species. These genes are embedded within highly repetitive DNA, which creates many problems for genome sequencing and gene identification. A significant contribution of his group has been the development of computational methods to solve these problems, which resulted in the identification of nearly all known Drosophila Y-linked protein coding genes. These studies also shed light on the evolution of the Drosophila Y chromosome which, unexpectedly for a Y chromosome, is gaining genes, instead of losing them.
Angela DePace is an Associate Professor of Systems Biology at Harvard Medical School. Her lab studies the mechanism and evolution of animal transcription by linking quantitative measurements to computational models in the Drosophila blastoderm embryo. Her recent work has challenged two fundamental assumptions about enhancer function: that they function as independent modules and that their function can be effectively modeled at equilibrium. The lab is working toward conceptual and computational models that can predict the output of complex developmental loci, where multiple enhancers collaborate to control gene expression in space and time.
Angela Douglas is the Daljit and Elaine Sarkaria Professor of Insect Physiology and Toxicology in the department of Entomology at Cornell University. Her laboratory investigates the microbiome of Drosophila and other insects. They study how the microbiome influences Drosophila metabolism and nutrition, and—in reverse—how the composition and functional traits of the microbiome are shaped by the metabolic, immunological, and behavioral traits of the Drosophila host.
Rick Fehon is a Professor and former Chair in the Department of Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology at the University of Chicago. His research explores how specialized plasma membrane domains are formed, particularly how signaling mechanisms are organized in polarized epithelial cells of the Drosophila imaginal discs. Current work in his lab focuses on upstream regulation of the Hippo pathway, a highly conserved mechanism that controls tissue growth in development. The laboratory uses a multidisciplinary approach to understand how upstream Hippo pathway components assemble at the cell cortex to regulate the downstream kinase cascade.
Elizabeth R. Gavis is the Damon B. Pfeiffer Professor in the Life Sciences and Professor of Molecular Biology at Princeton University. Her research bridges the disciplines of RNA biology and developmental biology. Her lab is particularly interested in how post-transcriptional gene regulation, particularly mRNA localization and translational control, orchestrates early developmental events including axial patterning and segregation of the germline. Complementary studies focus on RNA-binding proteins and post-transcriptional regulation in the context of sensory neuron dendrite morphogenesis. The Gavis lab pioneered the use of the MS2/MCP tagging method in Drosophila.
Bassem Hassan is currently a Research Director at INSERM and a Team Leader at the ICM (Institut du Cerveau et de la Moelle Epinière) in Paris, France. In addition, he is the Einstein Visiting Fellow at the Berlin Institute of Health and the Freie Universität Berlin, in Berlin, Germany. Research in the Hassan lab focuses on understanding the genetic mechanisms that regulate the early development of the nervous system, from cell fate specification to neural circuit formation in the brain.
Barbara Mellone is an Associate Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology and a faculty member of the Institute for Systems Genomics at the University of Connecticut. Her laboratory is interested in the process by which chromosomes are accurately segregated during cell division through the proper assembly and function of centromeres. Taking advantage of the unique tools of Drosophila, Mellone’s research aims to understand the general principles of centromere specification and to identify the contributions of both chromatin and centromeric DNA in this process. Using a combination of cell biology, genetics, and chromosome engineering, the Mellone group has made important contributions to our understanding of how centromeres form and propagate and of how centromeric proteins co-evolve in Drosophila.
Mala Murthy is an Associate Professor in the Princeton Neuroscience Institute and the Department of Molecular Biology at Princeton University. Her research focuses on the neural basis for acoustic communication, using flies as a model system. Her lab discovered that the dynamic back-and-forth exchange of information between male and female flies during courtship sculpts the structure of the songs that males produce—and they have gone on to unravel the neural underpinnings of this complex behavior using a mix of neural circuit manipulations, neural recordings, and computational modeling.
Aurelio Teleman is Head of Division at the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) and Professor at the University of Heidelberg. His lab studies the regulation of cell and tissue growth. Work in the lab covers two aspects of signaling required by cells to grow: 1) signaling pathways that are activated non-autonomously by ligands such as growth hormones and 2) nutrient availability, which is sensed in part cell autonomously. The lab uses Drosophila to uncover novel basic biology and then translates the findings into humans via cell culture and clinical studies.
Hongyan Wang is an Associate Professor and Deputy Programme Director of Neuroscience & Behavioural Disorders Programme at Duke-NUS Medical School, Singapore. Her laboratory studies neural stem cell self-renewal and asymmetric division. The second research area of interest in the lab is to understand how neural stem cells exit from quiescence and become reactivated. Her lab is also interested in understanding how dedifferentiation of intermediate neural progenitors back into neural stem cells is prevented during development of the central nervous system.