Postodoctoral Alumni - Amber Mosley

Amber Mosley
Assistant Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis

As a graduate student at University of Kentucky College of Medicine, Amber Mosley used fairly standard molecular biology and biochemical approaches to study gene expression. But after visiting the lab of Stowers investigator Jerry Workman on a postdoc interview in 2004, Mosley made a career leap.

Workman suggested Mosley take time to chat with his new colleague, proteomics expert Mike Washburn. Washburn had recently brought a powerful mass spectrometry technique called MudPIT to the Stowers, and Mosley confesses she was blown away by the sheer volume of information about protein-protein interactions it could generate—so  much so that she decided to postdoc with Washburn.

“I was intimidated by the technology at first,” says Mosley, who had not previously considered delving deeply into the emerging field of proteomics. “But by applying it to a transcription-focused project, I would still be working on the biology that had always most interested me.”

During her 2004-2010 tenure in the Washburn lab, Mosley, who remained co-mentored by Workman, focused on how elongation of mRNAs by RNA Pol II elongation is controlled by a chemical modification called phosphorylation. Among her accomplishments, Mosley discovered that a phosphatase called Rtr1 regulates Pol II phosphorylation and is required for proper termination of mRNA transcripts, findings published in 2009 in Molecular Cell.

Now an assistant professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 
at Indiana University School of Medicine, Mosley continues to apply mass spectrometry to the study protein-protein interactions governing Pol II transcription.

Without the mentorship of Washburn, Workman, and also Head of Proteomics Laurence Florens, Mosely says she would not have acquired skills necessary to set up mass spectrometry in her own lab or interpret her data. She advises postdocs to seek labs that will prepare them for the day they will be on their own. “You need to find a place that is invested in you being successful,” she says.

She also credits an off-campus institution for making all that training go just a little easier. Now based in Indianapolis, Mosley has very fond memories of Christopher Elbow, a highly regarded Kansas City chocolatier, and his ice cream store. “I miss Christopher Elbow’s shops like old friends,” she says.