Dr. Bruce Wightman Awarded NIH Grant
Dr. Bruce Wightman, professor of biology, has been awarded a $285,702 grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to support his study of Transcriptional Regulation of Cell Differentiation in C. elegans by tailless.
Wightman’s laboratory focuses on understanding the molecular pathways – the series of specific steps--that allow cells to communicate with each other to create organized tissues and organs during animal development.
Nematode worms, the subject of Wightman’s research, have a gene that functions in the development of several organs, including the uterus. Wightman’s lab looks at how the NHR-67 protein formed by this gene controls and is controlled by other genes. The nhr-67 gene (also called tailless or Tlx) is present in vertebrates, including humans, where it has been shown to be a key regulator of neural stem cell identity. An understanding of how Tlx regulates other genes is central to understanding neural stem cells, and an important first step in identifying potential candidates for therapy in neurodegenerative disease. Wightman anticipates his research will advance understanding tissue and organ development in all animals. The research will be performed in part by Muhlenberg College undergraduate science majors.
Wightman joined the Muhlenberg faculty in 1996. He holds a B.A. from Oberlin College and earned his Ph.D. at Harvard University. In addition to his work in the biology department, Wightman serves as the director for the College’s Center for Ethics.