Our group’s values of equity and respect are more important than ever to affirm and broadcast in light of the ongoing and largely peaceful protests associated with the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. Racism and discrimination are unfortunately pervasive, and also affect academia. We stand with BLM in the peaceful struggle for justice and equality. Part of the problem is the spread of divisive language and misinformation on social media, and we’re proud to support an open letter to Mark Zuckerberg calling for action on posts that might endanger people’s lives or well-being.
Florian was named as one of 6 Robertson Investigators from the New York Stem Cell Foundation. This early career award of $1,500,000 will support the Merkle laboratory’s efforts to mechanistically connect obesity-associated phenotypes to cellular and organismic phenotypes, and to screen for potential anti-obesity drugs in vitro and test their effects in vivo.
We found that approximately 5% of human pluripotent stem cell lines carry inactivating mutations in the master tumor suppressor TP53 (p53). This work is now published online in the journal Nature. The mutations we observed are frequently seen in cancer, and also lead to increased growth or survival in cultured stem cells. Since human stem cell lines are being therapeutically transplanted into humans, these findings provide an opportunity to identify and discard potentially dangerous cell preparations. This work was initiated in the laboratories of Kevin Eggan and Steve McCarroll at Harvard University and the Broad Institute, and completed after the establishment of the Merkle Lab.
The Merkle lab is honoured to host Ying Xue, a MD/PhD who is visiting Cambridge for 1 year. Although she has only been here a short time she has already done a lot to CRISPR/Cas9-based gene editing pipelines up and running in the lab.
We are also excited to welcome Daniela, who is visiting Cambridge for 6 months from the lab of Licio Velloso in Brazil. Daniela will be examining the effects of free fatty acids (FFA) on the physiology of human hypothalamic neurons.
Welcome, Ying and Daniela!
The Merkle lab welcomes Julie Jerber, who will work as a joint postdoc with Dan Gaffney (WT-Sanger Institute) and Oli Stegle (EMBO-EBI) to analyse the contributions of common genetic variants to neurodegenerative disease. Julie joins us from Rockefeller University. Welcome!
Florian will give the Keynote presentation at the upcoming CamBioScience intensive course on Genome Editing on Monday, November 21 at 6PM GDT.
Florian and Kevin Eggan will present a webinar sponsored by StemCell Technologies on Tuesday, November 22 at 11AM EST entitled “Whole Exome Sequencing Reveals Selective Pressures and Dominant Negative Mutations in hPSC Cultures”.
Congratulations to Frances St. George-Hyslop, who successfully defended her M.Phil. project from the Farooqi and Merkle laboratories. Frances is now pursuing her Ph.D. in brain evolution at the University of Cambridge. We wish her all the best.
Bas Brouwers received an EMBO Fellowship for his project to study obesity-associated mutations in the serotonin 2C receptor, to be performed with Prof. Sadaf Farooqi and in the Merkle Lab.
Julia Becker’s work to characterise heterogeneity among POMC neurons with Giles Yeo and in the Merkle lab has been supported by an Erasmus Scholarship.