All plenary sessions will be presented in Alumni Hall, Science Lecture Hall, 3rd Floor. Venue seating is limited due to construction. Please arrive early.

Nonsense-Mediated mRNA Decay and Human Disease: Genome Guardian and Executor
4:00 p.m., Friday, 20 October
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Lynne Maquat, PhD
J. Lowell Orbison Professor
Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics
Director, Center for RNA Biology
University of Rochester Medical Center

Lynne Maquat, PhD, has been the driving force behind studies of disease-associated mRNA decay pathways for more than three decades. She was first to describe how nonsense-mediated mRNA decay (NMD) controls the quality of human gene expression. As a quality-control mechanism of mammalian cells (among other roles), NMD has been shown to play critical roles in both normal and disease states. It works to remove—by means of enzymatic degradation—flawed mRNA molecules that could lead to formation of toxic, disease-causing proteins if left unchecked.

Maquat’s lab is responsible for the discovery of the exon-junction complex, a protein complex that influences the translation, surveillance, and localization of spliced mRNA. Her lab has also shed light on the processes that initiate and carry out the NMD of gene transcripts, including discovering the pioneer round of translation. In related studies, Maquat’s lab discovered Staufen 1-mediated mRNA decay, which is mechanistically related to NMD. Maquat continues to investigate new mRNA decay pathways and other aspects of RNA biology, most recently a new microRNA decay pathway.

Maquat is founding director of the University of Rochester’s Center for RNA Biology: From Genome to Therapeutics. She earned a bachelor’s degree in cell biology at the University of Connecticut and a PhD degree in biochemistry at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where she also completed a molecular biology NIH postdoctoral fellowship in the McArdle Laboratory for Cancer Research.

Maquat has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the National Academy of Sciences. She has received the 2015 Canada Gairdner International Award, the 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award in Science from the RNA Society, and the 2018 FASEB Excellence in Science Award, among many other honors and awards.