Research and Achievements (2015)

October 1, 2015
Past and present JCC Fellows and BSA members make the news

Here are some updates for the past year. Share your publications, awards, and career news at

Tom Cohen, JCC Fellow 2012-2015 at Washington University in St. Louis, co-founded Nanopore Diagnostics and became its CEO. The company won the Olin Cup prize and $50,000 in seed investment. Nanopore is developing a test that takes 20 minutes to read, will identify whether the patient can benefit from antibiotics, and if so, determine the correct drug to prescribe.

Maria Costanzo, who studied yeast mitochondrial translational regulation during her JCC Fellowship, is currently Senior Biocuration Scientist at the Saccharomyces Genome Database (SGD). The database, found at, is a freely-available, comprehensive collection of genome, gene, and protein information about Saccharomyces cerevisiae. It now includes information about human genes that can function in yeast cells. Several hundred genes have changed so little over a billion years of evolution that they can be swapped between these very different organisms. Thus researchers can use all of the sophisticated experimental methods that have been developed for yeast to study these human genes and proteins, many of which are involved in human diseases. All of the published data about these conserved yeast-human gene pairs is now easily accessible in SGD.

Arthur S. Edison, former JCC Fellow, recently joined the faculty at the University of Georgia as its newest Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar where he will also direct the Complex Carbohydrate Research Center’s NMR facility. Previously, he was professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of Florida.

Laura Elias, JCC Fellow 2009-2012, is currently a core member of Boston Consulting Group’s Health Care Practice serving biotech and pharmaceutical companies on a variety of topics including evaluating acquisition opportunities, managing partnerships, and developing portfolio, go-to-market, and launch strategies.

Liang Ge, JCC Fellow 2013-2015 with Dr. Randy Schekman at the University of California, Berkeley, Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, won a Pathway to Independence award from the NIH. One of his recent papers is “The ER-Golgi intermediate compartment feeds the phagophore membrane” in the 2014 issue of Autophagy.

Casey C. Kopczynski, former JCC Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley, is currently the chief scientific officer with Aerie Pharmaceuticals, a company he co-founded in 2005. The company is working to bring a new glaucoma treatment to market.

Claus D. Kuhn, JCC Fellow 2008-2012, is currently at the Biomac Research Center for Bio-Macromolecules at the University of Bayreuth in Germany. He recently authored the research paper, “On-Enzyme Refolding Permits Small RNA and tRNA Surveillance by the CCA-Adding Enzyme” in Cell.

Eunyong Park, JCC Fellow 2013-2016, won the 2014 ASCB Kaluza Prize, which is supported by Beckman Coulter, for his work at Harvard University studying the mechanisms of protein translocation in living cells. Park developed new methods to examine specialized channels within the endoplasmic reticulum.

Benjamin Matthews, JCC Fellow 2011-2014, is a postdoc with Dr. Leslie Vosshall at The Rockefeller University. In 2015, he coauthored “Genome Engineering with CRISPR-Cas9 in the Mosquito Aedes aegypti.” The authors adapted the CRISPR-Cas9 system to the mosquito and efficiently generated targeted mutations and insertions in a number of genes. The immediate goal of this project, says Matthews, is to learn more about how different genes help the species operate as an efficient disease vector, and create new ways to control it. “To understand how the female mosquito actually transmits disease,” says Matthews, “you have to learn how she finds humans to bite, and how she chooses a source of water to lay her eggs. Once you have that information, techniques for intervention will come.”

Matthew Sieber, JCC Fellow 2012-2015, recently published, “Steroid Signaling Establishes a Female Metabolic State and Regulates SREBP to Control Oocyte Lipid Accumulation” in Current Biology. The study, completed in Dr. Allan Spradling’s lab at Carnegie Institute, found that a steroid links fat accumulation with egg development.

Mansi Srivistava, JCC Fellow 2010-2013, is currently an Assistant Professor at Harvard University in the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology. In 2014, she published, “Whole-body acoel regeneration is controlled by Wnt and Bmp-Admp signaling” in Current Biology.