News & Events

Dedication and Opening Symposium, Sept. 20, 2017

The University of Georgia Center for Molecular Medicine (CMM) was created in fall 2012 with Stephen Dalton, PhD, as its founding director. Construction of a new ~43,000-sq.-ft. state-of-the-art, purpose-built facility was recently completed.

The building’s dedication will be held Sept. 20, 2017, to be followed by a two-day symposium to mark the Center’s opening. The Symposium, taking place October 10-11, 2017, will feature world leaders in the field of ‘molecular medicine.’ Topics will include stem cells and regenerative medicine, disease modeling and target identification, drug discovery and immunity.

More about symposium

Faculty Candidate Seminar: Nadja Zeltner, Feb. 27, 2017

Nadja Zeltner
Department of Development Biology
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
“Modeling disease of the peripheral nervous system using human pluripotent stem cells”

Monday, Feb. 27, 2017
11:00-11:50 am
CCRC Auditorium

 

Faculty Candidate Seminar: Ahmed Mahmoud, Feb. 9, 2017

Ahmed Mahmoud
Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology, Harvard Stem Cell Center, Harvard Medical School
“Cellular and Molecular Regulation of Mammalian Heart Regeneration”

Thursday,  Feb. 9, 2017
11:00 AM
CCRC Auditorium

Faculty Candidate Seminar: Junsu Kang, Feb. 16, 2017

Jansu Kang
Dept. of Cell Biology
Duke University Medical Center

“Fishing for the Regulators of Tissue Regeneration”

Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017
11:00-11:50 am
CCRC Auditorium

The capacity for complex tissue regeneration is unevenly distributed among vertebrate tissues and species. While mammals have limited regenerative capabilities, zebrafish possess a remarkable potential to regenerate tissues such as amputated appendages and damaged heart muscle. However, little is known about the molecular basis for the presence or absence of regenerative capacity, which likely involves changes in both cell-intrinsic and cell-extrinsic factors. For instance, zebrafish are capable of regenerating amputated fins throughout life, but regenerative capacity of pectoral fins is variable between genders. I discovered that regeneration of male pectoral fins is impaired by inhibitory signal from reproductive tissues, indicating that there would be a trade-off between sex and regeneration during evolution. In addition, I have identified members of a valuable class of epigenetic factors: tissue regeneration enhancer elements that are activated in regenerating tissues. Using genome-wide analysis and transgenic assays, I found that there are enhancers with regeneration-restricted activity that are linked to leptin b (lepb). The activity of the lepb-linked regeneration enhancer (LEN) can be harnessed to modulate tissue regenerative capacity. These results provide evidence for ‘Tissue Regeneration Enhancer Elements’ (TREEs) that trigger gene expression in injury sites and can be engineered to modulate the regenerative potential of vertebrate organs. In this presentation, I will discuss how environmental, epigenetic, and genetic factors influence tissue regeneration in zebrafish and suggest new therapeutic strategies for tissue repair.

Seminar Flyer

Faculty Candidate Seminar: Zhongwei Li, Feb. 13, 2017

Zhongwei Li
“Stem Cell Based Kidney Regeneration”

Monday, Feb. 13, 2017
11:00-11:50 am
CCRC Auditorium

Kidney diseases are growing public health and economic burdens. The only cure for end-stage renal disease (ESRD) or kidney failure, is kidney transplantation, which however is in severe shortage of organ donors. Alternative strategies to generate kidney organs are urgently needed. Nephrons are the functional units of the kidney. Nephron progenitor cells (NPCs) are a transient amplifying population that generates all of the nephrons of the mammalian kidney during development. Their limited numbers, ex vivo expansion potential, and difficult accessibility in humans, have slowed basic and translational research into renal development and diseases. To solve this problem, we established a novel 3D culture platform for robust long-term expansion of primary mouse and human fetal NPCs. Expanded NPCs maintain molecular homogeneity and nephrogenic potential in vitro, ex vivo, and in vivo. The robustness of our culture condition enabled the capture and expansion of NPCs converted from MEF and human fibroblasts by small molecules, paving the road for the banking of patient-specific NPC lines for disease modeling and cell therapies. With the unlimited supply of NPCs and its derivative mature kidney cell types, we provided proof-of-concept for its broad basic and translational applications including the study of human kidney development, drug nephrotoxicity testing and disease modeling. More importantly, with our unique cell sources we are collaborating with bioengineers to rebuild the kidney with the ultimate goal of providing stem cell-based artificial kidneys for transplantation.

Seminar Flyer

Faculty Candidate Seminar: Mon., Jan. 30, 2017

Bulent Ataman
Dept. of Neurobiology
Harvard Medical School

Monday, Jan. 30, 2017
11:00-11:50 am
CCRC Auditorium

Pluripotent stem cells (PSCs) are widely used to investigate human development and disease mechanisms. However, under conventional culture conditions human PSCs do not resemble “naive” Experience-driven programs of neuronal gene expression have been shown to regulate the brain development and the components of these programs are mutated in a variety of human disorders of cognitive function. We identified a new neuronal activity-dependent secreted factor Osteocrin (OSTN) that is expressed in developing human and macaque cerebral cortex. Our findings suggest that OSTN evolved to regulate features of neuronal structure and function that are unique to primates..

Seminar Flyer

CMM Seminar: Thursday, January 26, 2017

Day: Thursday,

Date: January 26, 2017

Time: 11:00-11:50 am

Location: CCRC Auditorium


Pluripotent stem cells (PSCs) are widely used to investigate human development and disease mechanisms. However,
under conventional culture conditions human PSCs do not resemble “naive” pluripotent cells found in the blastocyst, but
instead are regarded as more mature “primed” cells that are poised to differentiate. This has prompted interest in
capturing human PSCs that more closely resemble the naive ground state of the blastocyst. By screening a small molecule
library, I identified a combination of five kinase inhibitors that could induce defining features of naive pluripotency in
conventional human PSCs. To assess the correspondence between different stem cell states in vitro and human pluripotent
cells in vivo, I examined three molecular criteria: the collective expression of transposable elements, the genome-wide
DNA methylation landscape, and X chromosome status in female cells. This analysis revealed that naive human PSCs
adopt key molecular signatures of the pre-implantation embryo. The isolation of naive human PSCs presents a novel
model system to study mechanisms of early human development and X-linked diseases, and may enable the generation
of interspecies chimeras upon injection into the blastocyst of an animal host. I will discuss strategies to improve the longterm
stability of naive human PSCs and their potential applications in biomedical research.

Flyer for Seminar

Dynamics of the cardiac myocyte epigenome in heart development and disease.

June 5-6th 2016
Professor Lutz Hein from the Albert Ludwigs University Freiburg, Germany will visit the CMM on June 5-6th, 2016. Professor Hein has pioneered the genetic and cellular of analysis of cardiac biology and will present his work on “Dynamics of the cardiac myocyte epigenome in heart development and disease“ in Coverdell at 11.00am, June 6th.
Please send enquiries to Dr. Stephen Dalton

Yang Liu wins award

Yang Liu from the Yin laboratory received best oral presentation award at the UGA Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (BCMB) retreat.

UGA breaks ground on new center

The University of Georgia broke ground Dec. 1 on the Center for Molecular Medicine, a 43,000-square-foot facility that will continue to advance UGA’s efforts in human health research.

When finished, the building on Riverbend Road will house up to 10 research groups whose primary goal will be to conduct translational research that positively impacts human health. The facility will include laboratories, faculty offices, shared cell culture facilities and other shared spaces that support research.

A rendering of the Center for Molecular Medicine.

A rendering of the Center for Molecular Medicine.

“The Center for Molecular Medicine is an expansion of the university’s capacity to translate research into products and other innovations that support economic development and enhance the quality of life in our state, our nation and the world,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. “Here, the very best researchers will investigate the molecular and cellular basis of human disease and develop new ways to diagnose, treat and prevent diseases that affect millions of people worldwide.”

State and local officials joined university administrators on the work site adjacent to the Complex Carbohydrate Research Center to celebrate the official start of construction. Funding for the facility came from two primary sources: Gov. Nathan Deal and the General Assembly approved $17 million in state funds for the new building, and these funds were matched by $8 million in non-state funds.

Description: UGA dignitaries including VP Ryan Nesbitt, left to right, VP Tim Chester, VP Rahul Shrivastav, Provost Pamela Whitten, Representative Chuck Jones, Chancellor Hank Huckaby, President Jere Morehead, Professor Stephen Dalton, Professor Alan Darvill, VP Griff Doyle, student Miranda Hayworth, VP David Lee, and VP Victor Wilson at the Center for Molecular Medicine Building Groundbreaking Ceremony. Date of Photo: 12/1/2015 Credit: Andrew Davis Tucker, University of Georgia Photographic Services File: 33411-176 The University of Georgia owns the rights to this image or has permission to redistribute this image. Permission to use this image is granted for internal UGA publications and promotions and for a one-time use for news purposes. Separate permission and payment of a fee is required to use any image for any other purpose, including but not limited to, commercial, advertising or illustrative purposes. Unauthorized use of any of these copyrighted photographs is unlawful and may subject the user to civil and criminal penalties. Possession of this image signifies agreement to all the terms described above.

UGA dignitaries including VP Ryan Nesbitt, left to right, VP Tim Chester, VP Rahul Shrivastav, Provost Pamela Whitten, Representative Chuck Jones, Chancellor Hank Huckaby, President Jere Morehead, Professor Stephen Dalton, Professor Alan Darvill, VP Griff Doyle, student Miranda Hayworth, VP David Lee, and VP Victor Wilson at the Center for Molecular Medicine Building Groundbreaking Ceremony. Credit: Andrew Davis Tucker, University of Georgia

“I’m excited about what this project will do for the state of Georgia,” said University System of Georgia Chancellor Hank Huckaby, who led the construction of the Complex Carbohydrate Research Center while serving as UGA’s senior vice president for finance and administration, a role he held until 2006. “It will be an important factor in the land-grant university here doing what it should do and needs to do to serve the people of this state, to bring more economic development and also improve the health of our population.”

The center has operated in various locations on UGA’s campus since its founding in 2012. The new facility will give the researchers better opportunities to collaborate with each other and with faculty housed in the Complex Carbohydrate Research Center.

“With the interactions of the Complex Carbohydrate Research Center and the CMM, we’ll be able to really address fundamental problems in health science, and I’m really looking forward to seeing that happen,” said Alan Darvill, director of the Complex Carbohydrate Research Center.

“The Center for Molecular Medicine will enhance UGA’s mission and reputation in the biomedical research area,” said Stephen Dalton, director of the CMM. “I’m delighted to be associated with the center and to be collaborating with Dr. Darvill in this venture and with the Complex Carbohydrate Research Center. I look forward to the building’s construction and to the many great scientific discoveries that will come out of the center in the future.”

CMM research groups will focus on stem cells and regenerative medicine, vaccine development and therapeutics, and human disease models such as diabetes and other metabolic diseases, neurological and cardiovascular disorders, and obesity and biomedical glycobiology.

The center will train undergraduate and graduate students to become the next generation of leading biomedical scientists, such as M.D./Ph.D. student Miranda Hayworth of Oak Ridge, North Carolina, who conducted research under Dalton’s direction.

“Research, without a doubt, enhances the quality of modern medicine, and I hope that the many undergraduates here at UGA interested in the field of medicine will take advantage of the tremendous biomedical research opportunities that the new Center for Molecular Medicine will generate,” said Hayworth, who successfully defended her dissertation and is now completing her medical education at the Georgia Regents University/UGA Medical Partnership in Athens.

Dalton to speak at 2015 Keystone Symposium, March 23-28, 2015

Stem cell biologist and CMM Director Stephen Dalton has been invited to speak at the 2015 Keystone Symposium ‘Transcriptional and Epigenetic Influences on Stem Cell States’ to be held in Steamboat Spring, CO, March 23-28, 2015. His topic is: Signaling Pathways and the Cell Cycle Converge to Regulate Epigenetics and Cell Fate Decisions in Stem Cells.

Annual Meeting Talks

Fikri Avci delivered invited talks at the annual meetings of American Chemical Society, American Association of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Canadian Society for Chemistry.

NIGMS sponsored Program Project

National Institutes of Health (NIGMS) sponsored Program Project in stem cell biology, led by Stephen Dalton, renewed for an additional 5 years.

 

NIAID Joint Initiative

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) recently awarded a contract for a ‘Center of Excellence for Influenza Research and Surveillance’, a joint initiative between researchers at Emory University and the University of Georgia. Ralph Tripp and Mark Tompkins of the CMM are key members of the initiative that includes collaborative links with the Harbin Veterinary Research Institute in Harbin, China.

Project Funding

The NIH has recently renewed funding for a highly-successful, multi-investigator Program Project based at UGA’s Center for Molecular Medicine (CMM). The Program directed by Dr. Stephen Dalton will work towards a better understanding of pluripotent stem cells and how they can be eventually used for clinical applications including heart disease, diabetes and neurological disorders.

New Members Arrive

The first two new hires for the Center for Molecular Medicine have arrived and begun their work at UGA. Dr. Fikri Avki was previously at Harvard and will continue his research in the CMM on glyco-vaccine development. Dr. Hang Yin’s arrival from the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute will strengthen UGAs presence in stem cell biology and the study of human metabolic disorders.