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Two UMass Medical School students take home prestigious Weintraub Award
Date:3/25/2014

WORCESTER, MA. Colin Conine and Emma Watson, PhD students in the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences (GSBS) at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, received the 2014 Harold M. Weintraub Graduate Student Award for research into the mechanisms governing epigenetic inheritance and the complex interactions between diet, gene expression and physiology. Only 13 students from North America were chosen for the prestigious award sponsored by the Basic Sciences Division of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. UMass Medical School was one of only two institutions to have multiple winners this year.

"I'm happy that both Colin and I won the award this year. I think it's a testament to the strong community of C. elegans biologists here at UMass Medical School, with whom we have both trained," said Watson, a doctoral candidate in the Program in Systems Biology. "We use the roundworm C. elegans to explore basic biological processes and find new angles of attack for human disease. C. elegans was the perfect model for me to study the genetic underpinnings that link diet and physiology. Its metabolic network and nutritional requirements are surprisingly a lot like ours, despite being a soil-dwelling nematode that eats bacteria all day long!"

Watson is working in the lab of Marian Walhout, PhD, co-director of the Program in Systems Biology and professor of molecular medicine.

"Emma is an outstanding graduate student who fully deserves this award," said Dr. Walhout. "It is a pleasure to work with her. She is hard working, smart, fun and has vision. If she sets the bar, it is very high!"

Conine is studying in the lab of 2006 Nobel Laureate Craig C. Mello, PhD.

"There is still so much we don't understand about inheritance. Genetics and DNA don't explain everything," said Conine, a doctoral candidate in molecular biology and genetics. "Epigenetic inheritance of RNA provides a new way of looking at h
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Contact: Jim Fessenden
james.fessenden@umassmed.edu
508-856-2000
University of Massachusetts Medical School
Source:Eurekalert

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