• Dr. Sue Abbatiello, Executive Director, Barnett Institute of Chemical and Biological Analysis, Northeastern University:  Mass spectrometry & small molecule analysis expertise
  • Professor Kevin Childs, Department of Plant Biology, Michigan State University:  Bioinformatics & RNAseq expertise
  • Professor Erin Cram, Biology Department, Northeastern University:  Molecular biology expertise
  • Professor Heather Marella, Bridgewater State University, Bridgewater, MA:  Plant-insect interactions expertise
  • Professor Thomas Reinard, Department of Plant Molecular Genetics, Leibnitz University:  Plant molecular biology expertise

Professors Carolyn Lee-Parsons (Chemical Engineering Dept), left, and Erin Cram (Biology Dept), right, hold samples of Hairy roots and seedlings of the Madagascar periwinkle. Cram and Lee-Parsons received a $550K grant from the National Science Foundation for their project entitled, “Transcriptional Control of Alkaloid Biosynthesis in Catharanthus roseus Cultures.” The Madagascar periwinkle (C. roseus) produces several highly-valued anti-cancer drugs but the slow growth rate of the plant and the low product concentration are significant barriers to efficient drug production. The high cost and need for these pharmaceuticals motivate their research to better understand how cells regulate production and to ultimately overproduce these pharmaceuticals using C. roseus cultures and a novel strategy based on gene silencing. PHOTO: Mary Knox Merrill