2005-2006 Pilot Project Recipients


Technologies to Rapidly Scan Single Genomic DNA Molecules

The specific aims of the project are to use finite elements and Brownian dynamics simulations to design a microfluidic genometry which will efficiently stretch single DNA molecules with electric field gradients, to fabricate microfluidic devices to quantify stretching of YOYO-labeled DNA, and to quantify mapping of YOYO-labeled DNA tagged with fluorescent nanoparticles conjugated to the restriction enzyme EcoRI.

  • Patrick Doyle
    Assistant Professor, Chemical Engineering

Structural Studies of the AlkB Family of Proteins

Their goal is to begin crystallization experiments, and to obtain data quality crystals of AlkB and hABH2 and start the structure determination process.

  • Catherine Drennan
    Associate Professor, Chemistry

Antisense gene regulation with nanparticle-DNA conjugates

The specific aims will be to construct NP-antisense DNA conjugates and characterize their biophysical properties, to utilize NP-antisense DNA conjugates to shut off translation, and to apply external fields to control antisense gene regulation.

  • Kimberly Hamad-Schifferli
    Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering and Biological Engineering

Molecular determinants of liver tumorigensis following combined exposure to aflatoxin B1 and infectious hepatocarcinogens in a mouse model

Dr. Rogers proposes to develop a murine model system to investigate synergy between environmental, infectious and host factors in liver tumorigenesis. From the standpoint of the host they are focused on two questions: what makes some mice prone to liver cancer while others are resistant; why are males at greater risk than females. He will characterize mutagenic, epigenetic, and metabolic perturbances in a multiple risk model of murine hepatocarcinogenesis and identify mechanisms of strain dependent and sexually dimorphic tumor promotion.

  • Arlin Rogers
    Chief, Comparative Pathology Laboratory, Division of Comparative Medicine

In vitro platforms to assess mechanically modulated environmental exposure

The goals of this study will be to develop and characterize the mechanical and interfacial chemical characteristics of nanoscale polymeric films as a mechanically tunable substrata for in vitro cell assays.

  • Krystyn Van Vliet
    Assistant Professor, Materials Science and Engineering

The Cell is a Molecular Machine

The CEHS Community Outreach and Education Program in collaboration with the MIT Museum will develop an interactive exhibit entitled “The Cell is a Molecular Machine”. The exhibit will include a large walk-in section of a liver cell.  Visitors will have he opportunity to directly participate in the construction of a protein, building it according to the instructions encoded in the cell’s DNA. They will create LEGO proteins, produce channel proteins of the right molecular shape and they will pace the newly folded structures into the cell membrane, creating functional pores.  The exhibit will emphasize the molecular nature of life processes, and for many museum goers it will radically change their idea about how a cell works.

  • Kathy Vandiver
    Director, Community Outreach & Education Program, Center for Environmental Health Sciences