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Our findings on the crosstalk mechanism by which cells sense changes in environmental conditions and translate those changes in intracellular signals that promote cell division, arrest, or death open the possibility of understanding how environmental factors and life-style behaviors influence cancer incidence. Check what the media has published on our findings.

A new article by Dr. Finkielstein and Tetsuya Gotoh is getting a lot of press this week!  It was featured in a VT News story on Tuesday and there was an interview with Dr. Finkielstein on NPR this morning.  The recent paper in Molecular Biology of the Cell is entitled, “The circadian factor Period 2 modulates p53 stability and transcriptional activity in unstressed cells.” Their article describes intriguing connections between the per2 protein that functions in circadian control and tumor suppressor proteins that mediate cell division, providing important new insights into the molecular basis of the correlation of disrupted sleep cycles and cancer.  A very nice press release! (December 4, 2014)


In addition to the article featured in this week’s VT News, members of the Finkielstein Lab have another paper just published online in Molecular Biology of the Cell. This article is entitled, “Association of the circadian factor Period 2 to p53 influences p53's function in DNA-damage signaling,” and the authors are Tetsuya Gotoh (postdoc), Marian Vila-Caballer (former postdoc), JingJing Liu (grad student), Sam Schiffhauer (grad student), and Dr. Finkielstein.  The paper is currently online on the Molecular Biology of the Cell site.  The paper is Jingjing’s third this year, Sam’s first, and the second first author paper for Tetsuya.  The study focuses on understanding the interplay between circadian factors, molecules that sense changes in environmental conditions, and the molecules responsible for promoting cell division or triggering cell death. The findings show that circadian components intersect cellular events at the p53 node, a tumor suppressor protein that is mutated in 80% of all cancers. Uncovering this relationship provides a much-needed explanation for how environmental factors can influence cancer incidence. (December 4, 2014)


L to R: JingJing Liu, Sam Schiffhauer, Tetsuya Gotoh


Graduate student Jingjing Liu (left) and Research Technician Xiangping Fu (right) of the Finkielstein Lab, along with Jianhua Yang, Daniel Capelluto, and graduate student Mary Kate Brannon (Capelluto Lab), authored a new article entitled, “Ligand binding reveals a role for heme in translational-controlled tumor protein [TCTP] dimerization,” in PLoS ONE. Co-authors include Their work focuses in understanding the role of TCTP under both physiological conditions and in tumor growth. TCTP is a highly conserved, ubiquitously expressed, abundant protein that is broadly distributed among eukaryotes. Its biological function spans numerous cellular processes ranging from regulation of the cell cycle and microtubule stabilization to cell growth, transformation, and death processes. In this work, the authors propose a new function for TCTP as a “buffer protein” controlling cellular homeostasis as a potential therapeutic target. (November 20, 2014)


Dr. Finkielstein was an instructor at the EMBO International Institute for Collaborative Cell Biology and Biochemistry School of Science, which took place from October 27th to November 7th, 2014 in Rio de Janeiro and Búzios, Brazil.  The program was entitled, “From Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Approaches to Systems Biology: Bench to Bedside, Bench to the Field Course.” She gave two lectures as part of the practical courses: “Circadian signal transduction and its implication for cell homeostasis” and “qRT-PCR analysis of circadian gene expression in mammalian cells.”  She also gave a scientific talk, “Clock proteins: new players in DNA damage,” in the symposium held over the weekend.

Dr. Finkielstein was quoted in a recent article entitled, “Think Pink,” in the Roanoke Times.  The story is about a joint movement between Hidden Valley High School and Northside High School to support breast cancer awareness.  “To me, breast cancer awareness week is an opportunity to foster an open and frank dialogue about breast cancer, the many treatment options available, and the relevance of screening and early detection to prevent and successfully treat cancer,” Finkielstein said. “All of this is in the context of educating people about the many aspects of breast cancer while emphasizing the relevance of caregivers during the treatment and recovery process.” (October 23, 2014)

Research Associate Tetsuya Gotoh (left) and graduate student Jingjing Liu (right) from the Finkielstein Lab have a new paper in Molecular Biology of the Cell described by one reviewer as work that “will redefine our current concept of the mammalian cell cycle checkpoint by incorporating circadian sensing molecules.”  The study brings together the diverse molecules responsible for sensing changes in environmental conditions, integrating the cellular response through the p53 pathway.  The work brings important new insights to our understanding of cellular homeostasis and its connection with disease development.  The authors state that “since cancer development largely relies upon sustained inactivation of the p53 pathway, the existence of factors that respond to environmental signals and influence p53 stability and activity encourages the search for unconventional drug targets and would certainly provide a new direction as to when and how to treat various cancers.”  The paper is entitled “The circadian factor Period 2 modulates p53 stability and transcriptional activity in unstressed cells.” (October 9, 2014)



Dr. Finkielstein gave a talk entitled, “Clock proteins: New players in DNA-damage signaling,” on October 10, 2014 in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of Rochester Medical School.


There was participation by undergraduate members of the Finkielstein Lab again this year in the Summer Undergraduate Research Symposium, held July 31, 2014 at the Graduate Life Center.  Diana Pham gave an oral presentation and presented a poster, and Mi Song Kim presented a poster.


pic On June 15, 2014, Dr. Finkielstein gave a talk at the 2014 Society for Biological Rhythms Meeting in Big Sky, MT.  Her talk, entitled, "Circadian Regulation of Checkpoint Signaling in Mammalian Cells," was given in Circadian Rhythms and Cancer session and was very well-received by a large audience. The talk was based on her research with current and former lab members Tetsuya Gotoh, Marian Vila-Caballer, and Jingjing Liu. Our newest assistant professor, Shihiko Kojima, also attended the meeting.  Needless to say, Dr. Finkielstein sported her Argentina shirt during the talk.


(Below) A picture of the Finkielstein Lab group in the Relay for Life from the American Cancer Society that took place on April 25, 2014 on the VT campus. We walked 12 hours, until 5 am, despite the rain, following the "Finish the Fight" slogan for the ACS. We obviously stopped for some yummy snacks (you could see them all in our tent!).



The First Annual Cancer Funding Workshop, organized by Dr. Finkielstein, took place on March 6th and 7th, 2014, at the Fralin Life Science Institute. There were 42 attendees from 16 departments representing the various Colleges. The workshop included oral presentations from all speakers, panel discussion, and plenty of opportunities for networking. Each speaker spent a whole afternoon with faculty in one-on-one meetings of up to 13 faculty members each. The workshop speakers, pictured L to R in the photo below, included William Phelps - Program Director, Preclinical and Translational Cancer Research Program, American Cancer Society; Dennis Dean-Director, Virginia Bioinformatics Institute; Jerome Jourquin - Scientific Grants Manager, Susan G. Komen Foundation for the Cure; Carla Finkielstein; John Kanki - Director, The Medical Foundation; and Patricia Morin - Director, Scientific Review and Grants Administration, American Association for Cancer Research. Also participating, but not pictured, were Marc Hurlbert - Executive Director for the Avon Foundation and Barbara Spalholz - Chief, Division of Cancer Biology NCI/NIH.


Two members of the Finkielstein Lab have won prestigious awards.  Undergraduate Researcher Geoffrey Richards has been awarded the Nanotechnology Entrepreneurship Challenge (NTEC) Undergraduate Excellence Award for developing 3D vascularized scaffolds for evaluation of drug candidates for various disease processes.  And Elissa Fink, a high school intern in the lab over winter break, won the First Place Award in the Biochemistry Category in the Governor's Science Fair.  She will be going to Johns Hopkins next year.  Congratulations to both! (February 27, 2014)


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Last Update 9 January 2015