The goal of Dr. Fanning’s initiative is to create a community of scholars at Vanderbilt University that extends from beginning undergraduates through advanced undergraduate and graduate students to postdoctoral trainees and junior and senior faculty members, all of whom will be engaged in a shared teaching/mentoring and learning experience. The focus of the scholarly activity for this diverse group is research related to the general topic of DNA replication; three or four labs interested in some aspect of DNA replication will participate in the program.
Ten to 12 freshman will be recruited to the program each year. Participants will spend the summer before their sophomore year as full-time research interns, rotating through each of the participating labs. In addition, they will be immersed in all aspects of scientific culture—reading primary literature, writing, speaking, discussing, and experimenting. During the academic year, students will be encouraged to enroll for research credit hours in one of the labs. Advanced undergraduates, graduate students, postdocs, and faculty will serve as mentors. For the next two summers, students may return to the program as full-time research fellows, which will include continuing with their research and mentoring new participants. Through this program, Dr. Fanning expects about 40 students, double the current number, to be involved in research in the Department of Molecular Biology. Mentors from this program can also participate in Vanderbilt’s Center for Teaching’s formal training program and receive credit toward a graduate teaching certificate. Graduate students who mentor interns will also satisfy a departmental degree requirement for teaching experience.
Research in Dr. Fanning’s lab focuses on DNA replication and growth control in mammalian cells. Much of their effort has been directed at teasing out the mechanisms of action of a versatile and sophisticated viral protein, simian virus 40 (SV40 T antigen), which ingeniously manipulates mammalian host cells to do its bidding. T antigen works in part by targeting many of the most critical regulatory proteins in the cell, including p53 and Rb tumor suppressors, cellular replication proteins, and some DNA repair proteins. Beginning with T antigen, Dr. Fanning has begun to explore the structure and function of some of these cellular proteins as well as their interactions with each other. More recently, the scope of her research has expanded to genetic and biochemical analysis of mammalian chromosomal replication origins and the proteins that direct their function.
Last updated October 2002