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MD Anderson Events

John H. Blaffer Lecture Series

John H. Blaffer Lecture Series


Tuesday, April 29, 2014, 4:00 p.m.
Onstead Auditorium, S3.8012
Basic Sciences Research Building
Yukiko Yamashita, PhD
Associate Professor
Dept. of Cell & Developmental Biology
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Ann Arbor, MI
“The mechanism of asymmetric stem cell division”
Host: Michael Galko, Ph.D.

                                                Biochemistry & Molecular Biology

Date: 4/29/14, 4pm to 5pm
Time: 4/29/14, 4pm to 5pm
Location: Onstead Auditorium, Basic Science Research Building, Floor 3, near Elevator J, (S3.8012)
Format: Lecture
CME: 0
Facilitator: Nicholas Navin
Speaker Bio: Yukiko Yamashita uses Drosophila as a model system to investigate a fundamental question: When stem cells divide, what determines which daughter cell will remain a stem cell and which will differentiate into another tissue type? Yamashita joined LSI in January 2007 as an assistant research professor and assistant professor for the Department of Cell & Developmental Biology at the Medical School. Yamashita received both her BS and PhD in Biophysics from Kyoto University in Japan, and completed postdoctoral training in Margaret Fuller’s laboratory at Stanford University. Fuller had been studying stem cells for years by the time Yamashita arrived at Stanford, but nobody in her lab had used a cell biological approach. "I see stem cells as being cells first, before they are stem cells," Yamashita says, pointing out that they share ninety-nine percent of their characteristics with other cells. She wants to figure out what accounts for the one percent difference. Using Drosophila, in which stem cells are easy to isolate, she discovered that although stem cells have the same components as other cells, they behave differently, dividing asymmetrically to produce differentiated cells. A stem cell can either differentiate—producing a skin cell, for example—or it can self-renew. "It's an either/or choice for each cell." Producing too many stem cells can lead to tumorigenesis, while producing too few can lead an organism to run out of other necessities, like new skin cells. Yamashita notes that understanding how cellular mechanisms work may eventually aid other researchers in finding ways to intervene in processes that lead to cancer. In 2011, Yamashita was awarded the MacArthur Foundation Award, the so-called "genius grant"; in 2013, she was named a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator.
Contact: Doris Green - (713) 834-6267 -