Research Roundup: November 2020

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GCB News

Research Roundup: November 2020

Here are summaries of a selection of the papers published by GCB faculty in November 2020:


Restricting calories can improve the healthspan and lifespan of organisms ranging from yeast to mammals. Matt Hirschey was part of a team that used yeast to investigate how the mechanisms involved in caloric restriction could uncover future interventions for aging associated diseases. Read more

Using the Dunedin Longitudinal study, Terrie Moffitt, Avshalom Caspi and team investigated relationship characteristics and biological aging across almost 20 years. They found that being involved in romantic relationships was associated with slower biological aging. Conversely, they also found that experiencing violence from a partner was more strongly associated with biological aging that perpetrating violence. Read more


Matthew Hirschey was part of a team that investigated the response to the pesticide rotenone in roundworms. Rotenone has been widely used to study the effects of mitochondrial dysfunction on dopaminergic neurons in the context of Parkinson’s disease. Read more

Gene Regulation

Dysregulated gene expression is a common feature of cancer and may underlie some aspects of tumor progression, including tumor relapse. Ashley Chi was part of a team that showed that recurrent mammary tumors exhibit global changes in gene expression and histone modifications and acquire dependence on the G9a histone methyltransferase. Read more

The adult liver is able to regenerate even after losing two-thirds of its mass all while sustaining its essential metabolic functions.  Xiling Shen was part of a team that modeled liver regeneration in mice. They integrated single-cell RNA and ATAC-Seq to map state transitions in about 13,000 hepatocytes at single-cell resolution as the livers regenerated. Read more

New Methods

Colorectal cancer is the third most common cance in the world, and therapeutic options for advanced colorectal cance are limited. David Hsu, Xiling Shen and team developed a precision medicine pipeline that integrates high-throughput chemical screens with matched patient-derived cell lines and patient-derived xenografts to identify new treatments for colorectal cancer. Read more

Lingchong You and Teng Wang  developed a plasmid-centric framework that analyzes gene flow in complex communities in a computationally feasible way. Read more


Charlie Gersbach and Karen Bulaklak wrote a comment piece to celebrate Nature Communication’s 10th anniversary. Their comment summarizes recent advances in gene therapy and their expectations for gene therapy in the near future. Read more

Related News

A diagram of the species of bacteria from an individual patient that are more likely to be found with tumor samples (blue) or normal tissue samples (yellow). The layout of the diagram shows the bacterial family tree, with node sizes proportional to the number of times a given bacterial group is observed. This specific diagram “rediscovers” that Fusobacterium species are strongly enriched in colorectal cancer and offers the new insight that Campylobacter species are also associated with the disease.

The Cancer Microbiome Reveals Which Bacteria Live in Tumors

Researchers clean up data to identify the bugs better

By Ken Kingery

stack of books

Research Roundup: December 2020

Here are summaries of a selection of the papers published by GCB faculty in December 2020:

Claire Engstrom

Claire Engstrom, a Student Researcher Working to Treat Duchenne’s Muscular Dystrophy by Optimizing CRISPR-cas9

Meet Claire Engstrom, a Senior from Pasadena California. Claire is a Biology major who works in the Gersbach Lab at Duke.