EMBO Fellowship to investigate genome ‘origami’

 26 July 2016   Grants and awards

By Honor Pollard

Dr Guo Ya has been awarded a prestigious Long-Term Fellowship from the European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO). Having joined the Lymphocyte Development team in October 2015, this award will fund Guo Ya through two years of research at the MRC Clinical Sciences Centre (CSC).

“The EMBO Long-Term Fellowships are awarded for a period of up to two years, and support post-doctoral research visits to laboratories throughout Europe and the world”, says the organisation. Fellowships are awarded based on candidates’ previous scientific achievements as well as the novelty and biological significance of their proposed research. Of roughly 800 candidates, just ninety-five were successful in the Spring 2016 selection.

Dr Guo Ya will explore genome folding in immune cell development

Dr Guo Ya will explore genome folding in immune cell development

“We have long known that DNA sequences contain genetic information but now we try to understand how they are involved in DNA folding,” says Guo Ya. How the genome folds is not well understood, but genome folding is involved in deciding which genes are active in a cell, and plays a critical role in some cancers and developmental diseases.

Guo Ya completed his PhD in molecular biology at Shanghai Jiao Tong University last year, where his work focused on how a protein called CTCF directs DNA interactions at a specific group of genes called the Protocadherin cluster. At the CSC, Guo Ya will expand his work to immune system cells, called T lymphocytes. He will be using the advanced facilities available at the CSC to conduct his experiments, including next generation sequencing and high performance computing. The overall aim is to understand how genomic information precisely dictates gene expression during T cell lineage development, and to what extent genome folding plays a role during this process.

Using the Fellowship funding to further our knowledge of genome folding, Guo Ya’s work could provide new insights into the regulation of gene expression at the molecular level. Guo Ya will begin work on his research this month, July 2016.