Reconstitution and dissection of chromosome segregation Ekaterina Grishchuk, Ph.D. Associate professor of physiology, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania Ben E. Black, Ph.D. Associate professor of biochemistry and biophysics, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania ABOUTTHERESEARCH N E U R O D E G E N E R AT I V E D I S E A S E S such as Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, Alzheimer’s and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) are known for wreaking havoc on the human brain. Scientists have identified the source of the degeneration — progressive death of neurons within the brain leading to widespread loss of neurological function — but they have not yet found a way to stop the process of cell death or the suffering it causes. At the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Elias Aizenman, professor of neurobiology,andMichaelPalladino,professor ofpharmacologyandchemicalbiology,areinthe earlystagesofstudyingapotentialintervention. Aizenmanhasstudiedneurodegenerative diseasesforthelast30years. Heidentifieda complexprocessprecedingcelldeath — once injured,braincellsactivatea“signalingcascade” in whicheachsteptriggersthenextuntilthe cell finallydies.Forthepastthreeyears,he has studiedtheroleofzincandactivationof a potentialpotassiumchannelasameansof interruptingthecascade. Lastyear,Aizenmanbegancollaboratingwith Palladino,knownas“theflyguy”forhisexpertise inthegeneticsoffruitflies.Fruitflieshaveamuch shorterlifecyclethanthemicetypicallyusedin medicalresearch,allowingresearcherstorun throughtestcyclesmuchmorerapidly. FundedthroughtheNewInitiative ResearchGrantsfromtheCharlesE.Kaufman Foundation,theirresearchusesa“silentgene” thatrecognizesthereleaseofzinc,oneofthe earlysignalsinthecascade.Onceactivated, thegeneproductblocksthelossofpotassium withinthecell,thwartingtheprocessbefore celldeathcanoccur. Instead of imminent death, an injured cell would be re-programmed to trigger its own defense. Ifthesilentgenemethodiseffectivewith fruitflies,theresearchershopeforasuccessful outcomewithmiceand,oneday,acurefor peoplewithneurodegenerativedisease.  58 2017 KAUFMANAWARDRECIPIENTS I N V E S T I G AT O R A W A R D S I N I T I AT I V E A W A R D S 59 RE P ORT TO THE COM M UNI TY THE P I TTSBURGH F OUNDATI ON 59 RE P ORT TO THE COM M UNI TY THE P I TTSBURGH F OUNDATI ON Locus-specific regulation of pericentric satellite sequences Dawn Carone, Ph.D. Assistant professor, department of biology, Swarthmore College Pollen as the next viral frontier: Unrecognized threat to food security and native biodiversity Tia-Lynn Ashman, Ph.D. Distinguished professor of ecology and evolution, University of Pittsburgh James Pipas, Ph.D. Herbert W. and Grace Boyer Chair in Molecular Biology, University of Pittsburgh Defining the glycan-specificity and mechanisms of action for antitumor lectins James Marden, Ph.D. Professor of biology, Pennsylvania State University Scott Medina, Ph.D. Assistant professor of biomedical engineering, Pennsylvania State University Protecting quantum wires for quantum computing Michael Hatridge, Ph.D. Assistant professor of condensed matter physics, University of Pittsburgh Roger Mong, Ph.D. Assistant professor of condensed matter physics, University of Pittsburgh Singlet fission: Deriving fundamental insights from computation Noa Marom, Ph.D. Assistant professor, department of materials science and engineering, Carnegie Mellon University Four-dimensional quantum Hall physics with light Mikael Rechtsman, Ph.D. Assistant professor of physics, Pennsylvania State University Deconstructing the molecular basis of condensin-mediated chromatin folding Eric Joyce, Ph.D. Assistant professor, department of genetics, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania Detailof Drosophila melanogaster, morecommonly knownas thefruitfly. W H I L E T H E C H A R L E S E . K A U F M A N F O U N D AT I O N was created to support fundamental research in biology, chemistry and physics, the work of Kaufman-fundedscientistsisanythingbutbasic. Herearethisyear’sawardees: CharlesE.KaufmanFoundation