Job Dekker and Katherine Fitzgerald elected to the National Academy of Medicine


Job Dekker, PhD, and Katherine A. Fitzgerald, PhD, scientists at UMass Chan Medical School, were elected to the National Academy of Medicine for their distinguished contributions to medicine and health.

According to the president of the National Academy of Medicine, Victor J. Dzau, MD, who received an honorary degree from the medical school in 2015, this is the most diverse class of new members in the academy, comprising about 50 percent women and 50 percent racial and ethnic minorities. “This class represents many identities and experiences, all of which are absolutely necessary to deal with the existential threats facing humanity. I look forward to working with all of our new members in the years to come, ”said Dr Dzau.

New members are elected by current members through a process that recognizes individuals who have made major contributions to the advancement of medical science, healthcare and public health.

Job Dekker, PhD

Dr Dekker, researcher at Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Joseph J. Byrne Chair in Biomedical Research, professor of biochemistry, molecular pharmacology and systems biology, was credited with introducing the revolutionary concept that matrices of genomic interactions can be used to determine the conformation of chromosomes.

The Dekker lab studies how a genome is organized in three dimensions inside the nucleus. Although DNA is made up of a linear sequence of bases, it does not exist inside the cell nucleus as a simple straight line. More like a cooked spaghetti ball, the genome folds and folds back on itself so that it can fit within the narrow confines of the nucleus. The form it takes has a profound influence on the activation or deactivation of genes in a cell and, consequently, on health and disease. Many diseases, including cancer, are characterized by alterations in the spatial organization of the genome. This 3D architecture varies from one type of cell to another and even from one state to another.

To study this 3D structure, Dekker developed chromosome conformation capture technologies, biochemical techniques to determine how DNA segments interact and are linked to each other. This technology is at the heart of the “3C”, “5C”, “Hi-C” and “Micro-C” tools used by researchers around the world to map the structure and organization of chromosomes inside cells.

Dekker obtained his doctorate from Utrecht University in 1997 and joined UMass Chan in 2003.

Katherine Fitzgerald, Ph.D.

Dr Fitzgerald, the Worcester Foundation Chair for Biomedical Research, professor of medicine, vice president of research in the department of medicine and director of the innate immunity program, was appointed to the academy for her pioneering work on innate immune receptors, signaling pathways and regulation of expression of inflammatory genes.

Research from the Fitzgerald laboratory focuses on understanding the molecular mechanisms controlling the inflammatory process. Fitzgerald and his team use immunology, biochemistry, molecular biology, and genetics to determine how the immune system distinguishes between pathogens and host molecules to both protect the host from infection and prevent infection. damage inflammatory diseases. Fitzgerald made many new discoveries, including the identification of Toll-like receptor adapter molecules; TANK binding kinase-1 (TBK1) as IRF3 kinase; identification of the AIM2 inflammasome; key defined regulators of the NLRP3 inflammasome; and discovered new evidence for the importance of long-coded RNAs in innate immunity.

Fitzgerald, who joined the faculty in 2004, holds a BS in Biochemistry from University College Cork and a PhD from Trinity College Dublin. She was elected to the American Academy of Microbiology in 2020 and the National Academy of Sciences in 2021.

The National Academy of Medicine, formerly the Institute of Medicine, was established in 1970 under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences to advise the nation on medical and health matters.

The National Academy of Medicine works in conjunction with the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering to provide independent and objective analysis and advice to the nation and conduct other activities to solve complex problems and inform policy decisions. public. The academies also encourage education and research, recognize outstanding contributions to knowledge, and enhance public understanding of science, engineering, and medicine.

Related Articles on UMassMed News:
UMass Chan School of Medicine Establishes New Department of Systems Biology
UMMS scientists to expand 4D nucleome research with $ 13 million NIH grants
Katherine Fitzgerald and Nikolaus Grigorieff elected to the National Academy of Sciences


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