2015/2016 Recipients

The Role of Elg1 in Sister Chromatid Cohesion

Douglas Koshland, Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, UC Berkeley
Martin Kupiec, Department of Molecular Microbiology and Biotechnology, Tel Aviv University

The genome of all cells is highly vulnerable to damage which compromises its stability, especially during DNA replication. Genomic instability is a hallmark of cancer cells. Cellular mechanisms have evolved to cope with this. The protein Elg1 is involved in genome stability maintenance, but Elg1 mutations cause genome instability.  Evidence exists of Elg1’s role in sister chromatid cohesion (SCC), the mechanism that keeps newly replicated DNA molecules together until anaphase. This research collaboration will elucidate the role played by Elg1 in SCC and will provide a better understanding of the critical basic mechanisms that safeguard the integrity of the eukaryotic genome.

Efficient and Accurate Method for Time-Dependent Electronic Transport Simulations in Nanoscale Junctions

Jeffrey Neaton, Department of Physics and Kavli Energy Nanosciences Institute, UC Berkeley and LBNL
Oded Hod, Department of Chemical Physics, Tel Aviv University

Molecular optoelectronics facilitate the ultimate miniaturization of electronic and energy harvesting devices. Understanding charge dynamics at the nanoscale in terms of intrinsic molecular properties and advancing computational modeling of open quantum systems remain a major challenge. This collaboration addresses this challenge via development of an empirical-parameter free, efficient, and accurate first-principles method to simulate charge dynamics in molecular systems. In addition to new fundamental understanding and general methodologies, our work will provide guidelines for the future design and fabrication of novel nanoscale optoelectronic devices.

Parallel Computing Platforms for Tomographic Phase Microcopy for 3-D label-free imaging of live cells

Laura Waller, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences, UC Berkeley
Natan Shaked, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Tel Aviv University

Rapid 3-D live-cell imaging is computationally intense, requiring supercomputing for real-time implementation. This precludes its use in clinics for dynamic cell imaging and immediate visualization. We propose a new computational platform that will significantly enhance this process. A new method which has the potential for high-throughput 3-D imaging of live cells without labeling will be merged with complementary tools for 3-D phase imaging. The result will be the fast processing of data, with the goal of real-time reconstruction and display. This will allow for rapid characterization of biological processes and cell transformations from healthy to pathological conditions.

Neural basis of mammalian social behavior, using bats as a model

Michael Yartsev, Department of Bioengineering and Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute, UC Berkeley
Yossi Yovel, Department of Zoology, Tel Aviv University

Sociality is a core function of many animals and is often expressed via social acoustic communication. Its neural underpinning remains largely unknown. This collaboration will examine the neural basis of social acoustic communication in the highly social and vocal Egyptian Fruit Bat. Methods for determining social hierarchical structure will be combined with techniques for monitoring neural activity in the brain to examine how the brain interprets the same sensory input differently - in freely behaving and flying bats - depending on its context.  This will provide novel insight into the neural basis of sociality and social communication in the mammalian brain.