Jeanne B. Lawrence, Ph.D.
Professor of Neurology and PediatricsUniversity of Massachusetts Medical School
Jeanne Lawrence is an internationally recognized leader in the study of genome organization in nuclear structure and chromosome regulation by non-coding RNAs. She earlier developed FISH technology for single genes and nuclear RNAs, which made it possible for her lab and others to show that genes and specific RNAs exhibit cell-type organization in compartmentalized nuclear structure. Her lab first demonstrated that the XIST gene, which had been implicated as involved in X-inactivation, produces a large non-coding RNA that “paints” the whole inactive X-chromosome territory, thereby silencing genes across a whole chromosome. Other recent work provides evidence for the reciprocal structural roles of XIST RNA and abundant repeat-rich RNAs that counter euchromatin condensation. Other recent work seeks to translate discoveries in basic epigenetics to an innovative approach for chromosomal abnormalities such as Down Syndrome; this is based on targeted insertion of an XIST transgene in order to silence trisomy 21 in patient-derived stem cells. This approach provides several new paths to advance translational research on multiple fronts. Dr. Lawrence has received multiple awards, including from the American Society of Cell Biology, German Society for Biochemistry, National Center for Human Genome Research, Charles H. Hood Foundation and the John Merck Fund. She holds an MS in Human Genetics and Counseling from Rutgers University and a PhD in Developmental Cell Biology from Brown University. She is Professor in the Department Neurology and Pediatrics at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA.