Stowers News

Protein complex links cellular metabolism to gene expression, offers potential therapeutic target

Oct 29 2015

KANSAS CITY, MO—Researchers in the Workman Lab at the Stowers Institute for Medical Research have identified a link between cellular metabolism and gene expression, one with potentially far-reaching implications for cancer risk prediction and treatment.

Stowers investigator receives Innovation Grant from Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation

Oct 14 2015

KANSAS CITY, MO—Neuroblastoma is a solid tumor cancer that arises in the nervous system outside the brain and spinal cord and is often fatal in children. The tumors are derived from embryonic neural crest cells that fail to properly migrate or mature. It is known that a variety of molecular signals guide these processes in the embryo, but it is unclear how defects in these signals contribute to the disease. Stowers Institute Director of Imaging Paul Kulesa, Ph.D., has received an Innovation Grant from Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation to pursue this very question.

Innovative Imaging Technique Reveals New Cellular Secrets

Sep 16 2015

KANSAS CITY, MO—Cellular mitosis depends in part on small organelles that extend spindles to pull apart chromosome pairs. Before they can perform this and other essential tasks, these tiny cylindrical structures — known as centrioles in animals and spindle pole bodies (SPBs) in yeast — must themselves duplicate.

However, much about this nanoscale process has remained veiled by the limits of current microscopy. Optical approaches cannot resolve objects below certain wavelength limits, while non-optical approaches like electron microscopy (EM) can only study nonliving cells.

Orchestrating hair cell regeneration: a supporting player’s close-up

Jul 16 2015

KANSAS CITY, MO—The older we get, the less likely we are to hear well, as our inner ear sensory hair cells succumb to age or injury. Intriguingly, humans are one-upped by fish here. Similar hair cells in a fish sensory system that dots their bodies and forms the lateral line, by which they discern water movement, are readily regenerated if damage or death occurs.

Stowers Investigator Receives American Cancer Society Recognition

Jun 8 2015

KANSAS CITY, MO—R. Scott Hawley, Ph.D., Investigator and Dean of the Graduate School at the Stowers Institute for Medical Research, was recognized with a research service award from the regional chapter of the American Cancer Society. Hawley received the award from the High Plains Division of the American Cancer Society at the Cattle Baron’s Ball in Kansas City on June 13, 2015.

Stress triggers key molecule to halt transcription of cell’s genetic code

May 27 2015

KANSAS CITY, MO—If DNA is the cookbook of life, then RNA is the scratch paper where the cell writes down its favorite recipes. These recipes could make the pigments of your skin, the vehicles that carry oxygen through your veins, or the signaling molecules that keep cancer in check. Sometimes, when the cell’s transcription machinery copies these recipes, it stutters or stalls, either because it gets off task or it comes across a problem with the cookbook. Then, the cell has to decide whether to keep going or give up on the recipe.

Stowers Investigator elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Apr 22 2015

KANSAS CITY, MO—Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator and Stowers Institute Investigator Alejandro Sánchez Alvarado, Ph.D., has been elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Sánchez Alvarado shares the honor with some of the world’s most accomplished leaders from academia, business, public affairs, the humanities and the arts.

New technique can locate genes’ on-off switches

Mar 13 2015

KANSAS CITY, MO—All the cells in an organism carry the same instruction manual, the DNA, but different cells read and express different portions of it in order to fulfill specific functions in the body. For example, nerve cells express genes that help them send messages to other nerve cells, whereas immune cells express genes that help them make antibodies.

In large part, this highly regulated process of gene expression is what makes us fully functioning, complex beings, rather than a blob of like-minded cells.

Researchers design “evolutionary trap” to thwart drug resistance

Feb 12 2015

KANSAS CITY, MO—Cancer is a notoriously evasive disease. It can adopt multiple identities, accumulating mutations or even gaining or losing whole chromosomes to create genetic variants of itself that are resistant to whatever drug is thrown its way.

This ability to evolve to changing conditions and new therapies can turn cancer care into a game of whack-a-mole, as clinicians hit cancer cells with one treatment after another only to have new drug resistant forms pop up.

Cutting the ties that bind

Oct 31 2014

Stowers team identifies “molecular scissors” required for successful chromosome separation in sex cells

KANSAS CITY, MO—The development of a new organism from the joining of two single cells is a carefully orchestrated endeavor. But even before sperm meets egg, an equally elaborate set of choreographed steps must occur to ensure successful sexual reproduction. Those steps, known as reproductive cell division or meiosis, split the original number of chromosomes in half so that offspring will inherit half their genetic material from one parent and half from the other.