Carnegie Mellon University

2004–2005 Speakers

Andrew Murray

Website at Harvard University
We are interested in the general principles that underlie the function and evolution of cells, as revealed by studying the transmission of genetic information during cell division and how cells evolve in response to selective pressure. How does mitosis segregate a cell's chromosomes into two identical sets before cell division? This question has fascinated biologists for over a century and is directly relevant to cancer and other important medical problems. We study three aspects of mitosis: how chromosomes attach to the chromosome segregation machinery (the spindle) in mitosis and meiosis, how cells make sure that the chromosomes are properly lined up on the mitotic spindle before initiating chromosome segregation, and the glue that holds sister chromatids together and how is it dissolved to allow the sisters to separate from each other? We study these problems in the bakers yeast. How does selective pressure induce the evolution of new traits and how predictable is the outcome of such experiments? We are beginning to apply selective pressure to bakers yeast to induce phenotypic changes and then use genome-based methods to find and characterize the mutations that account for them. We are particularly interested in establishing links to groups with interests in the analysis, theory, and modeling of networks.