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[2012/11/28] Dr. Liu Chia-Rung Received the 22th Wang Ming-Ning Award
Dr. Liu Chia-Rung Received the 22th Wang Ming-Ning Award

[2012/11/28]

Dr. Liu Chia-Rung Received the 22th Wang Ming-Ning Award

Dr. Liu Chia-Rung, recently graduated from Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at National Yang-Ming University, has earned Wang Ming-Ning Award. This award is established by the foundation of Mr. Wang Ming-Ning, who is founder of China Chemical & Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd and Chunghwa Chemical Synthesis & Biotech Co., Ltd. It is one of most prestigious awards in Taiwan to encourage researchers who have done outstanding works in the fields of biomedical sciences. The evaluation process is very stringent and only limited number of people has the honor to receive this award. Dr. Liu is nominated and earned this award this year based on his Ph.D. thesis"Spt4 is selectively required for transcription of extended trinucleotide repeats".

It has been know for a while that trinucleotide repeat expansion is associated with multiple human disorders. In particular, CAG expansion is linked to a number of polyQ neurodegenerative disorders, such as Huntington's disease and Spinocerebellar ataxias. The afflicted person with these diseases show progressive decline in motor function, cognition, and finally lead to deceased. As expanded CAG repeats that encode a long stretch of polyQ being a toxic material to neurons, it has been a long-standing wish to understand and regulate the expression of gene containing expanded CAG repeats.

By using a novel yeast genetic system, Dr. Liu found the expression of mutant gene containing extended CAG repeats is substantially decreased in Spt4-deficient cells. He further confirmed that, in mouse striatal neurons, reduction of Spt4 homologue leads to a decrease in mutant gene expression along with an increase in cell survival, suggesting Spt4 is a potential target for polyQ disorders. Dr. Liu also well characterized the function of Spt4 in controlling the elongation process of transcription. These detailed and mechanistic studies have provided a fundamental for the development of drugs against Spt4 in the future.

Dr. Liu appreciates his comprehensive Ph.D. training in the laboratory of Dr. Tzu-Hao Cheng and the excellent research environment at National Yang-Ming University. Dr. Liu said, "Although this investigation took a long time and was very challenging, it is good to learn our research results can provide contribution to the health of human beings." He feels it is a great honor to receive this award and will continue his biomedical research career once he has fulfilled his duty in military service.

Prof. Tzu-Hao Cheng and Dr.Chia-Rung  Liu (right)

Prof. Tzu-Hao Cheng and Dr. Chia-Rung Liu (right)


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