David W. Loehlin
2020 Hellman Fellow
Assistant Professor of Biology
Project Title: Causes of Excess Expression of Tandem Duplicate Genes
Project Description: David Loehlin’s Hellman Fellowship will support his research in determining the genetic conditions that cause tandem duplicate genes to produce excess gene expressions.
In 2016, David published a paper that observed for the first time that tandem duplicate genes, core elements of genomes, produce more than twice the RNA and protein of identical single copy genes. His research at Williams has primarily focused on extending these initial observations toward developing a functional understanding of why excess expression occurs. This research program is a continuation of his past work on understanding the genetic basis of quantitative aspects of organisms, ranging from the size and shape of body parts to the contributions of different parts of gene structure to gene expression. The latter resulted in a publication in 2019 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences with a Williams student coauthor.
The research funded by David’s Hellman Fellowship will result in the completion of two studies initiated at Williams by honors thesis students, working to understand the genetic conditions that lead to tandem duplicate overexpression. Completing these projects is the primary focus of David’s research for the next two years, and funding is necessary to perform the actual data collection. David’s Hellman Fellowship will support ongoing purchases of perishable reagents for verifying the genotypes of the experimental flies and to quantify gene expression of the single/tandem duplicate genes. He will use available divisional research funds to maintain the lab’s collection of fly stocks which support uses in teaching and future experiments.