Biological Sciences Columbia University
Departmental Seminars
Biotech Seminars
Neurolunch Seminars
Special Events
Jason Gorman awarded the 2011 Harold M. Weintraub Graduate Student Award

Jason Gorman, a graduate student in the Department of Biological Sciences, has been selected for the 2011 Harold M. Weintraub Graduate Student Award from the Fred Hutchison Cancer Center in Seattle, WA. This award recognizes outstanding achievement during graduate studies in the biological sciences.

As an awardee, Jason has been invited to participate in a scientific symposium honoring Hal Weintraub and his commitment to innovative science. The award symposium will take place May 6, 2011, at Hutchinson Center's Robert W. Day Campus. 

The award is given in honor of Hal Weintraub, a pioneering developmental molecular biologist who died of brain cancer in 1995 at the age of 49; it is one of the most prestigious graduate student awards in the United States.

The recipients for 2011.


Jason Gorman's research

Post-replicative mismatch repair (MMR) corrects mispaired bases that escape polymerase-proofreading machinery during DNA synthesis before the errors become permanently embedded in the genome. Disruption of MMR leads to a dramatic increase in spontaneous point mutations and a predisposition to cancer. In eukaryotes, the protein complexes Msh2-Msh6 and Mlh1-Pms1 are responsible for finding mispaired bases and initiating repair.

To better understand the mechanisms of MMR Jason developed novel single molecule optical microscopy assays for directly visualizing fluorescent molecules of Msh2-Msh6 and Mlh1-Pms1 as they interacted with individual molecules of DNA in real time. Using this approach, Jason demonstrated that both Msh2-Msh6 and Mlh1-Pms1 can diffuse in one-dimension along DNA. However, they move using two distinct mechanisms: Msh2-Msh6 slowly slides on DNA while tracking the phosphate backbone, whereas Mlh1-Pms1 hops rapidly back and forth along DNA. Jason has also shown that Mlh1-Pms1 can hop over nucleosomes and diffuse along chromatin, whereas Msh2-Msh6 cannot. This work represents the first experimental demonstration that specific modes of diffusion (i.e. sliding vs. hopping) impose constraints on protein movement within the context of chromatin, and these results have important implications for understanding how the intranuclear trafficking of DNA-binding proteins (e.g. transcription factors, DNA repair proteins, etc.) may be governed by facilitated diffusion.

Finally, Jason has developed a novel method for inserting mispaired bases (or any type of DNA lesion) into a defined position on a 50-kilobase DNA substrate for use in single molecule imaging assays. Jason's newest work shows how Msh2-Msh6 binds mispaired bases, how it then recruits Mlh1-Pms1 to the lesion, and how the two proteins act together to help coordinate downstream steps in the repair pathway.  These experiments represent a major step forward for the entire field, and will provide the most comprehensive picture of how MMR proteins identify and respond to lesions that would otherwise lead to permanent genetic mutations.



Gorman, J. et al.,2007. Molecular Cell 28: 359-370. (Featured in News & Views, Nature Structural & Molecular Biology Vol. 12, pp. 1124-1125; Rated "Exceptional" by the Faculty of 1000 Biology:

Gorman, J. & Greene, E.C. 2008. Nature Structural & Molecular Biology 15: 768-74.

Gorman, J. et al., 2010. Nature Structural & Molecular Biology 17: 932-938. (Recommended by the Faculty of 1000 Biology: