An award-winning researcher has ties back to the Wellesley community: the Pew Health Group’s Scholar of the Month is a Wellesley College alum, Brown University assistant professor of biology Erica Larschan. A profile on the Pew Charitable Trusts website explains her passion for genetics and a little about her work.
As you may recall from Biology 101, female organisms have two X chromosomes, while males have an X and a Y--which is what defines gender. Studying fruit flies, Pew reports that Larschan's team discovered how the protein complex MSL—or male-specific lethal, so-called because it keeps male organisms alive—which helps male fruit flies compensate for the lack of a second X chromosome.
Before teaching at Brown, Larschan made her way through Wellesley College, earning an undergraduate Biochemistry degree, before grad school at Harvard University. She then trained at Brigham and Women's Hospital before heading to Brown University.
Larschan is also a 2011 Pew Biomedical Scholar and winner ofa Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers.
[Clarification: a previous version of this story may have implied Dr. Larschen discovered MSL, not that she and her team discovered the molecular mechanisms by which it doubles molecular expression. For more information, see the links above. 12:33 p.m.]