In 2009 in the MBL Physiology course, Brangwynne, Anthony Hyman and colleagues discovered a new way for living cells to organize their components: Liquid-liquid phase separation, akin to oil separating from water.
This turned out to be a significant discovery and, as the MacArthur Foundation notes, “opened a host of new research avenues, as membraneless biological phase separation is being found in an ever-increasing variety of cellular settings.”
Three years later, a large group of scientists (including Brangwynne) began meeting at the MBL for five consecutive summers to intensively study the role of phase separations in cell function and disease. Members of this HHMI/MBL Summer Institute made significant contributions to this emergent research paradigm in cell biology, contributions that also “have the potential to shed light on biochemical malfunctions that can lead to disease,” the MacArthur Foundation notes.
The MacArthur Fellowships provide unrestricted awards “to talented individuals who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction.” The stipend for the MacArthur Fellowship is currently set at $625,000, paid in quarterly installments over five years.
Photo credit: John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
Related Links (selected)
Dolgin, Elie (2018) What lava lamps and vinaigrette can teach us about cell biology. Nature, doi: 10.1038/d41586-018-03070-2
Ron Vale delivers a talk on “RNA phase separations and neurodegenerative disease” on September 12, 2018. Vale is an HHMI Investigator at University of California, San Francisco, a Distinguished Scientist at the MBL, and co-directed the HHMI/MBL Summer Institute.
2018 publication on mechanisms of RNA phase separations by MBL Fellow Amy Gladfelter of University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
Shin, Yongdae and Brangwynne, Clifford (2017) Liquid phase condensation in cell physiology and disease. Science, doi: 10.1126/science.aaf4382