Helen J. Wing

Helen J. Wing is an Associate Professor of Molecular Microbiology in the School of Life Sciences at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She obtained her Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Birmingham (UK) in 1997, where she studied transcriptional gene regulation in Escherichia coli. She worked with both Prof. Stephen J.W. Busby and Prof. John R. Guest in her first post-doctoral position, where she employed biochemical approaches to study transcription. In 2000, Helen moved to the U.S. to take a post-doctoral position with Marcia B. Goldberg M.D. at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital. It was here that she became interested in the transcriptional regulation of Shigella virulence genes and antimicrobial peptides. She joined the faculty at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas in 2005.
The primary focus of my research laboratory is virulence gene expression in the bacterial pathogen Shigella flexneri, the causal agent of bacillary dysentery, which is estimated to kill over 1 million people each year. All four species of Shigella harbor a large virulence plasmid, which carries most of the genes required to cause disease in the human host, including those required for invasion, type III secretion and actin-based motility, a process that allows bacteria to spread from one human cell to another. We are interested in the environmental cues, the timing and the molecular events that trigger the expression of virulence genes. We are particularly interested in the complex interplay between nucleoid structuring proteins, proteins that facilitate the packaging of DNA into tiny cells, and the transcriptional regulators of virulence in Shigella VirF and VirB.

Grant Matick

To build a brain, the embryo must produce a spatially organized array of a vast number of neurons, then interconnect them. Our research group uses genetic and molecular approaches in mouse and chick embryos to investigate the functions of specific genes in brain development. This research has implications for the molecular therapy of neurological disease and injury, and is funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Our current research is on the migration of neurons and their axons through the developing brain. We investigate how molecular signals guide axons to migrate precisely long distances on longitudinal pathways, how cranial nerves grow out to connect to muscles, and also how neuron cell bodies settle in specific positions. Our studies focus on a system of signals, the Slit/Robo repellents and the Netrin attractants, to understand the mechanisms by which opposing signals are integrated by neurons.

Jeffery Shen

Dr. Shen’s research focuses on development of databases and bioinformatics tools for genome analyses and gene annotations, predictions of genes responsive to environmental/developmental cues, and predictions of gene functions (subcellular localization, and protein motifs). Another focus of my research is the molecular mechanism controlling plant responses to abiotic stresses, seed dormancy and germination. He is also interested in the mechanism underlying tissue-specific and developmentally-regulated gene expression.

The recent accomplishment in sequencing the genomes of thousands of organisms, including human being and important crops such as rice, is leading to a revolution in scientific research, medicine discovery, and improvement of the quality of our food. His lab is interested in developing (adopting, modifying, and inventing) bioinformatics tools for genome analyses and gene ontology studies. Gene ontology addresses: Biological Process (Why is this, such as cell enlargement, being done?), Molecular Function (What kind of molecule is this? Enzymes or transcription factors?), and Cellular Component (Where is this located? Nuclei or Mitochondria?).