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Weeks Lab News!

David Qiu Wins Edmister Award for Outstanding Graduate Work

December 2023 – David has received a Floyd Edmister Fund Award based on his outstanding graduate work. David is developing a new technology for finding tertiary structure motifs in cells, and then defining how these novel motifs regulate gene expression.

Simon Felder Writes Successful R21 Grant

September 2023 – With the mentorship of Dr. Weeks, but largely independently, Simon wrote a successful R21 proposal, receiving a study section ranking in the top 7%. This grant will support his work in understanding how intentional covalent modification of RNA can be used to regulate translation and other aspects of gene expression.

David Qiu Wins Poster Award

June 2023 – David attended the Nucleic Acids Gordon Research Conference, where his work was recognized by a Best Poster Award. David is trying to transform our understanding of RNA structure by inventing and applying new technologies for discovery of RNA tertiary structure!

Students and Postdocs Share Science at Major Meetings

April-June 2023 – This post emphasizes that is it great to be back to “normal” again and supporting students and postdocs attending, presenting and learning at conferences. Amy and Patrick presented posters at the NIH Symposium on RNA Biology in April. Jordan, Seth and David shared their work at the Gordon Research Conference on Nucleic Acids. More conference meetings and presentations to come!

Undergraduate Researchers Make Big Impact

June 2023 – We have four undergraduate researchers working in the lab this summer. Pascale, Annika, Irma and Abby are tackling diverse individual research projects spanning understanding how RNA structure regulates translation and splicing to devising ways that small molecules might bind RNA and alter gene expression. Amazingly, all four also crafted proposals or grants that independently supported their work!

Alexandra Khitun Receives NIH Postdoctoral Fellowship

May 2023 – Alex joined the lab last year and, since this time, conceived of, wrote, and has been awarded three (!) postdoctoral fellowships. She has most recently accepted an Individual Postdoctoral Fellowship from the NIH. This fellowship will support Alex’s innovative work using small molecules to target RNA and manipulate gene expression.

Ana Tan Graduates with Honors, Is Admitted to Pharmacy School, and Writes First-Author Paper

May 2023 – Ana has embraced undergraduate research in our lab since the beginning of her sophomore year. She leveraged this work to create an independent project that earned High Honors as a senior. She kept working on this project and is now very close to submitting a first-author manuscript, along with her lab mentors Patrick and Jordan. Ana will attend UNC’s Pharmacy school in the fall.

Jeff Ehrhardt Founds Biotechnology Company

April 2023 – Jeff, who graduated from the lab in 2021, has fully caught the entrepreneurship bug. Jeff worked for a startup in San Diego upon finishing his Ph.D. and has since co-founded Shreenika, where he serves as COO.

Catherine Giannetti Graduates and Joins Biotech Company

August 2022 – Catherine defended her PhD with vigor and then moved quickly to a biotech opportunity in Boston. She is working in the mRNA Center of Excellence group at Sanofi.

Scott Allen Joins Lab as AGILE Fellow

June 2022 – Scott joins the lab, joint with the Laederach lab, as a UNC Institute for Convergent Science Innovation Postdoctoral Fellow. Scott is focusing on a project that combines training in translational science paired with commercialization and project leadership skills. His overall project goal is to modulate the function of genes involved in neurodegenerative disease by altering RNA structure.

Arnab Sengupta Starts Faculty Position at Georgia College

January 2022 – Arnab is starting a tenure track position at Georgia College, Georgia’s flagship public liberal arts university. Read about his innovative work with undergraduates.

Philip Grayeski Graduates and Joins Venture Group

October 2021 – Phil defended his dissertation and joined the KdT Venture Group, which he had a hand in starting. Phil is poised to become a force in the ever growing and increasingly robust startup culture in the RTP area!

Sam Olson Graduates and Joins Biotechnology Company

September 2021 – Sam defended his dissertation with authority and will now bring his expertise in devising great experiments and in RNA structural biology to SAMDI Technologies. Congratulations Sam!

Catherine Giannetti Wins Venable Award

September 2021 – Catherine received a department Venable Award that goes to our strongest graduate students in their final year of study. Catherine has been focusing on understanding how RNA folds and on creating new technologies for measuring complex structures.

Jordon Koehn Recieves NIH Fellowship

August 2021 – Jordan, who joined our lab as a Lineberger ITCMS postdoc, has received an Individual Postdoctoral Fellowship from the NIH. This fellowship will support Jordan’s innovative work in understanding the RNA ligand-ome.

Mark Boerneke Receives NIH Pathway to Independence Award

July 2021 – Mark, an NIH Individual Postdoctoral Fellowship holder, has received an NIH Pathway to Independence Award. This F99/R00 award both supports his development as a postdoc and will provide funds and momentum in a future independent position, working at the intersection of chemical biology and virology.

Chase Weidmann Starts Independent Faculty Position at the University of Michigan

July 2021 – Chase is joining the Center for RNA Biomedicine at UMich where he will be melding his unique interests in noncoding RNA, multi-omics, and cancer biology. Congratulations Chase!

Jeff Ehrhardt Wins Venable Award

September 2020 – Jeff received a department Venable Award that goes to our strongest graduate students in their final year of study. Jeff has created novel, fast-reacting probes of RNA structure. Here is a glimpse of his work.

Tony Mustoe starts independent faculty position at Baylor College of Medicine

December 2019 – Tony is moving to Baylor where he is starting his own lab where he will focus on deciphering the mRNA structural code. Congratulations Tony!

Meredith Zeller Wins Poster Award

October 2019 – Meredith Zeller won a poster award at the Symposium on RNA Biology: RNA Tool and Target for her work on identifying sub-micromolar ligands for a complex RNA tertiary structure.

Work on Structural Basis of Folding a Viral RNA Genome Highlighted

July 2019 – Work by postdoc Liz Dethoff on understanding how best to model viral RNA structures and how to confidentially bridge the gap between in-virus and test tube experiments has been highlighted by Chemical & Engineering News.

Collaborative Project on Liquid-liquid Phase Separation Highlight

April 2018 — A collaborative project with Amy Gladfelter and Erin Langdon was recently published in Science. Amy’s lab has been making major strides in understanding how cells organize themselves using liquid-liquid phase separation. It turns out that some phases form with high component selectivity via interactions mediated by RNA!  College’s article

Mark Boerneke Receives NIH Postdoctoral Fellowship

April 2018 — Mark received a highly competitive NIH Fellowship to support his work directed toward understanding higher-order and tertiary interactions in RNA viruses.

Collaborative Project with Novartis Published in Cell and Highlighted by C&E News

March 2018 — Work from our lab and carried out with collaborators from Novartis used SHAPE-MaP probing to characterize mRNA structures in living cells. Overall, the work shows that RNA structure plays a pervasive role in regulating gene expression and has been highlighted by Chemical & Engineering News, in an article that emphasizes the potential translational impacts of the UNC research.

Weeks Lab Translational Technologies Discussed by Innovate Carolina

March 2018 — Work from our lab that has led to the successful launch of new a North Carolina Startup company — Ribometrix — is covered in a “Startup Story”. The article outlines the important role of blending academic research and practical applications and the special role of the Carolina KickStart Ventures in helping to get Ribometrix started.

Weeks Lab Research Featured in Nature Reviews Drug Discovery

November 2017 — Work form our lab has been highlighted in another article, this one in Nature Reviews Drug Discovery: “Small molecules against RNA targets attract big backers.” The NRDD article specifically focuses on technology from our lab that makes it possible to find motifs in RNA that form more complex structures, and are more likely to form unique structures that might be targetable by drugs.

Chemical & Engineering News Article on RNA Drugs

November 2017 — Research from the Weeks lab and the perspective of Dr. Weeks are featured in a recent article on “The RNA Drug Hunters”.