September 15, 2014
Donna Vogler, Ph.D., Associate Professor & Chair, Dept. of Biology, SUNY Oneonta, Oneonta, NY
Title: Planes, Plains and Food Chains—Bottom Up Management of Airport Ecosystems
Abstract: Airport properties encompass grassland, wetland, and managed turf habitat—all potentially attractive to wildlife. The goal of this FAA supported project was to evaluate several native plants against a conventional turf mix for degree of wildlife attraction or deterrence. Vegetation cover, insect sweeps, bird counts and fecal pellet counts were conducted at three sites in central NY including Griffiss (Utica-Rome) Airport. Indian Grass (Sorghastrum nutans) and Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium produced good cover (up to 60%) approaching that of contractor’s mix (91%) and well above native grasses Poverty Oats (Danthonia spicata), Crinkled Hairgrass (Deschampsia flexuosa) and Thyme (Thymus pulegiodes) in the first season. Motion detecting infared cameras demonstrated that the contractor’s mix attracted significantly more feeding deer than an established plot of Indian Grass over a 2-month period (2 = 44, P<0.001). These studies suggest that management of airport vegetation, particularly the grass, is paramount in minimizing the threat that wildlife poses to aviation.
October 6, 2014
Timothy S. McCay, Ph.D.,Associate Professor, Dept. of Biology and Environmental Studies, Colgate University, Hamilton, NY
Title: Extent, Causes, and Consequences of Earthworm Colonization in Forests of the Northeast
Abstract: Earthworms can cause dramatic and adverse ecological changes when they colonize forested habitats previously free of earthworms. Earthworm communities of the Northeast consist of a dynamic combination of native species, exotic species from Europe, and exotic species from Asia. Forests of upstate New York are inhabited primarily by European species, but with several interesting native and Asian invasive earthworms. There are many earthworm-free forests in upstate New York, and these forests may be earthworm-free because earthworms have not yet dispersed to the forest or because the forest is somehow uninhabitable. Our studies suggest a role for both of these explanations in upstate New York. The colonization of forests by earthworms can lead to many changes in the composition and function of forest ecosystems. Abundance and diversity of invertebrate animals living in the litter layer is negatively related to high earthworm populations in upstate New York. Our studies in New York are currently being expanded to include sites across eastern North America with a network of research teams at primarily-undergraduate colleges and universities.
October 27, 2014
Wenyi Feng, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Dept. of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, SUNY Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, NY
Title: Untimely Encounter: Chromosome Fragility as a Result of Unscheduled Conflict Between DNA Replication and Transcription
Abstract: We are interested in understanding the mechanism of chromosome fragility in eukaryotic cells. Chromosome fragile sites are non-random locations in the genome that are more susceptible to DNA strand breaks, either spontaneously or under mild DNA replication stress. Increasing evidence suggests that chromosome fragile site formation is the underlying cause of genome instability, which can lead to a multitude of human disorders ranging from neurological diseases to cancer. My laboratory uses a powerful model organism, the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, to study the mechanism of chromosome breakage. We propose that replication inhibitor drugs, such as hydroxyurea, cause chromosomal breakage when DNA replication clashes with unscheduled gene transcription induced by the drug. Our work was facilitated by a novel method called Break-Seq that combines an in-gel DNA double strand breaks labeling technique with NextGen sequencing. We have also applied Break-Seq to map chromosome fragile sites in the human genome. Our preliminary findings provided support for our model as well as insights into the mechanism of chromosome fragility and its impact on human diseases such as the Fragile X syndrome.
November 17, 2014
Gary C. Chan, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Dept. of Microbiology and Immunology, SUNY Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, NY
Title: Human Cytomegalovirus Dissemination: Powering the “Trojan Horse” Monocyte
Abstract: Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) is endemic throughout the world with seropositivity reaching 50 to 80% in the United States. Although HCMV infection is generally asymptomatic in immunocompetent individuals, HCMV is a primary viral candidate in the etiology of several diseases, including atherosclerosis and glioblastoma multiforme. In immunocompromised individuals, such as neonates, AID patients, and transplant recipients, HCMV infection can lead to multi-organ failure resulting in significant morbidity and mortality. The myriad of organ diseases associated with HCMV infection is a direct consequence of the systemic viral spread to and infection of multiple organ sites that occur during either asymptomatic or symptomatic infections. Peripheral blood monocytes are responsible for disseminating the virus throughout the body of an infected host and play a central role in the pathogenic state of infected organs. We have shown HCMV infection stimulates both the survival and differentiation of normally short-lived monocytes into long-lived inflammatory macrophages. However, because viral proteins are not expressed within monocytes during the early stages of infection, how HCMV simultaneously promotes the survival and differentiation of these cells has remained elusive. We now have data demonstrating that the HCMV entry process directly stimulates a unique cellular signaling network specifically designed to drive the viability and differentiation of infected monocytes.
December 1, 2014
Michael Xavier Doss Jesudoss, Ph.D., Director of the Stem Cell Center, Masonic Medical Research Laboratory, Utica, NY
Title: Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells: A Powerful Tool for Regenerative Therapy and Personalized Medicine
Abstract: The recent technology called “Cellular Reprogramming” enables creation of a versatile type of stem cells called “induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (iPSC)” from anyone’s somatic tissues such as skin, blood, adipose tissue from liposuction and hair follicles irrespective of age and gender. These stem cells have the potential to give rise to any type of our body tissues such as heart cells, brain cells, insulin secreting beta cells and liver cells, just to name a few, and therefore these cells have greater potential for cell based regenerative therapy of a number of degenerative diseases such as ischemic heart failure, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, blindness and diabetes mellitus. In vitro human models of inherited diseases that had not been possible earlier due to ethical and technical problems have been established recently by using these iPSCs from the respective patients’ own somatic cells, paving the way for the treatments to be tailored “specifically” to individual patients toward the establishment of “personalized medicine”. My work focuses on 1) obtaining clinical grade cardiomyocytes from skin cells-derived iPSCs using genetic engineering and pharmocolgical approaches for cell based regenerative therapy of heart failure and 2) decoding novel pathophysiological mechanisms underlying different life threatening arrhythmic cardiac diseases using patient-specific iPSC based human in vitro models. My talk will be summarizing the latest developments on the iPSC based regenerative therapy and the potential insurmountable impact of iPSC on Personalized Medicine and drug discovery.