Karen Colley

    Email Address: karenc@uic.edu
    College: Medicine Department: Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics
    Title: Professor and Assoc Dean for Graduate Research and Education
    Office: 2020 MBRB M/C 669 Phone: 9967756
    Webpage: http://www.uic.edu/com/bcmg/colley.html
    Participating in the Chancellor’s Undergraduate Research Awards program: Yes

    Research Interest:
    My laboratory is generally interested in mechanisms controlling protein trafficking and modification in the mammalian cell. Our major is focus is directed at understanding the mechanisms of protein specific polysialylation. Polysialic acid (polySia) is a developmentally regulated , anti-adhesive sugar polymer that is added to a small subset of mammalian glycoproteins. It is absolutely required for brain development and plays roles in synaptic plasticity, cell migration, learning and memory and neuronal regeneration. It is also expressed on the surface of several highly metastatic cancer cells and promotes both their growth and invasiveness. In humans, the neural cell adhesion molecule, NCAM, is the major substrate of the enzymes that add polySia (polysialyltransferases, polySTs).

    We use molecular and cellular biology, imaging, cell culture, biochemistry and structural biology techniques to evaluate what sequences of NCAM and the polySTs allow their mutual recognition and NCAM polysialylation.

    Minimum time commitment in hours per week: 12

    Qualifications of a Student:
    Minimum GPA: 3.2
    Sophomore, junior or senior student
    Experience in laboratory course required, additional laboratory experience preferred but not required.
    Preferred majors: Biochemistry, Biology, Chemistry

    Brief Summary of what is expected from the student:
    Students will work with senior graduate students or senior research assistants to learn basic techniques to apply to a targeted project that is part of a larger research effort in the lab.

    We are looking for students who desire a long-term laboratory experience extending over several semesters in preparation for admission into graduate school in the biomedical sciences, medical school or a MD PhD program. For those students spending multiple semesters in the lab, the ultimate goal is for the student to have his/her research included in, and to be a co-author of, one or more peer-reviewed manuscripts.

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