September 25, 2014

Three CUMC Faculty Members Receive Interdisciplinary Appointments

We are pleased to announce that Columbia University Medical Center professors Oliver Hobert, Richard Mann, and Rodney Rothstein have been named to interdisciplinary appointments in the Department of Systems Biology. The addition of this new expertise will expand the breadth of science currently being explored in the Department, enhance educational opportunities for students, facilitate new collaborations, and promote the integration of systems biology perspectives and methods into research being conducted elsewhere in the university.

Oliver HobertOliver Hobert is a professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics and an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. His lab investigates how molecular regulatory mechanisms generate the enormous diversity of cell types found in the nervous system. Using C. elegans as a model system, his team revealed a core regulatory mechanism that controls the formation of neuronal identity in several different neuron types, and demonstrated that it is conserved in chordates. These insights have enabled them to reprogram the identities of cells into specific neuron types. Other interests in his lab include the origins of asymmetrical neuronal differentiation along the left/right axis, the molecular mechanisms of neural system plasticity, and the conservation and evolution of neuronal gene expression programs. His lab has also developed a number of tools to analyze whole genome sequence data.

Richard MannRichard Mann is the Higgins Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics. He uses the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster as a model system for studying a range of problems related to how transcription factors coordinate complex processes during animal development. The lab is particularly interested in the Hox family of homeodomain genes, which code for transcription factors that specifiy tissue and cellular identities across the animal kingdom. Their studies have focused on motor neuron differentiation in the fly leg, the development of the proximal-distal axis in leg development, and the regulation of tissue growth and organ size. In collaborations with Barry Honig and Harmen Bussemaker, the Mann Lab is also developing novel computational tools to discover transcriptional regulatory regions and analyze DNA binding specificities on a global scale.

Rodney RothsteinRodney Rothstein is a widely recognized expert in yeast genetics, and has maintained a particular interest in utilizing the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae as a model system. Early in his career he pioneered the use of recombination to alter genomes, and has since applied such approaches to isolate genes involved in the maintenance of genome stability. His recent work has focused on genes involved in preserving genome stability in response to aberrations such as double-strand breaks in DNA, and on checkpoints that monitor the progression of cellular processes through the cell cycle. He has also been developing integrative methods that use prior information to elicit more accurate and reliable results from high-throughput screening experiments. He is a professor in the Department of Genetics and Development.