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Genetics & Molecular Biology Research

Genetics and Molecular Biology

Research in the biology department utilizes manipulative approaches to study gene function and the genetics of disease in a variety of model systems, including C. elegans, Drosophila melanogaster, mice, rats, and mammalian cell culture.  In addition, our research aims to elucidate the molecular basis of biological function, whether the emphasis is on aspects of cell physiology or structure, or on processes like the regulation of gene expression.

Faculty Conducting Research in Genetics & Molecular Biology

Contact Specialization
Michael Akins
Assistant Professor
PISB 319
Experience-dependent plasticity in the mammalian nervous system; post-transcriptional regulation of gene expression in neurons
Shivanthi Anandan, Phi
Interim Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education; Associate Professor
PISB 320
My research program uses molecular genetic and classical microbial genetics to study signal transduction pathways in marine and freshwater cyanobacteria.
Dr. John Bethea
Department Head, Professor
PISB 123.04
Felice Elefant , Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Co-Director of the Biology Graduate Program
PISB 317

Impairment of epigenetic gene control mechanisms in the brain involving histone acetylation causes significant cognitive deficits that are a debilitating hallmark of most neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease (AD).   My laboratory is focused on understanding the mechanisms that govern epigenetic regulation of higher order brain function.  Recently, we made the exciting discovery that epigenetic Tip60 histone acetylation (HAT) action is critical for cognitive processes and remarkably, plays a neuroprotective role under in vivo disease state neurodegenerative conditions.   We are currently exploring the mechanisms underlying neural Tip60 HAT function in neuroprotective epigenetic gene control and the beneficial impact that environmental enrichment conditions has on these processes.   Our studies should provide new understanding into epigenetic-based mechanisms underlying neurodegenerative disorders, and broad insights into HAT based drug design for early therapeutic intervention of cognitive deficits.

Denise Garcia
Assistant Professor
PISB 422
Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology
Tali Gidalevitz
Assistant Professor
PISB 418
Dr. Daniel Marenda
Associate Professor
PISB 421
Developmental neurobiology and behavior. Modeling Alzheimer’s disease, CHARGE syndrome, and Pitt-Hopkins in Drosophila
Nianli Sang, M.B., Ph.D.
Co-Director of the Cell Imaging Center; Associate Professor
PISB 417
Molecular, Cellular and Biochemical Bases of Major Human Diseases
Aleister Saunders, PhD
Senior Vice Provost for Research; Professor
104 Left Bank
Biochemistry, Genetics, Molecular/Cellular Biology