skip to main content

Caltech Everhart Lecture Series Talk #2

Monday, May 22, 2023
5:00pm to 6:00pm
Add to Cal

The Caltech Everhart Lecture Series is a forum for outstanding Caltech graduate students to present their path-breaking research in front of the Caltech community. This year's speakers will present scientific topics to a broad scientific audience while addressing current research challenges.

The talks are open to the general public. Refreshments will be provided before the event!

For our second Everhart Lecture Series Speaker, we have:

Prashant Bhat

MD/PhD student in Division of Biology and Biological Engineering

Illuminating the "Dark Genome" and Membraneless Organelles: A New Frontier in Molecular Biology 

It has become increasingly clear that the "Dark Genome" – the part of our DNA that was once thought to be "junk" or non-coding – plays a critical role in regulating gene expression and cellular behavior. We recently uncovered that a significant part of the "Dark Genome" is structurally organized around various membraneless organelles, which are micron-sized structures in the cell nucleus that lack enclosing membranes (S. Quinodoz, P. Bhat et al. Cell 2021). Although these organelles are present in virtually all multicellular organisms – including plants and animals – their functional relevance has remained largely unknown. 

In my lecture, I will provide an introduction to membraneless organelles and current hypotheses about their structural organization and functional relevance (P. Bhat et al.Nature Reviews MCB 2021). I will then describe a novel method we developed called SPRITE that generates high resolution architectural maps of the genome around membraneless organelles without the need for a microscope (S. Quinodoz, P. Bhat et al. Nature Protocols 2022). Finally, I will present our recent discovery of the function of one of the most prominent membraneless organelles: the nuclear speckle (P. Bhat et al. BioRxiv 2023, in review). 

The importance of these bodies is evident because disruption of membraneless organelles is a common hallmark in various human diseases. Understanding the role of the "Dark Genome" in membraneless organelle formation and function has tremendous implications for advancing our knowledge of cellular biology and the development of new diagnostic and therapeutic tools for human diseases. 

We look forward to seeing everyone at the Everhart Lecture Series!

For more information, please contact Rachel Tham by email at [email protected].