Maureen Hanson

Maureen R. Hanson


323 Biotechnology Building
(607) 254-4833

Maureen R. Hanson is Liberty Hyde Bailey Professor in the Department of Molecular Biology & Genetics. She received a B.S. degree at Duke University and a Ph.D. in Cell and Developmental Biology from Harvard University. After completing an NIH postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard, she joined the faculty of the Biology Department at University of Virginia. She moved to Cornell as Associate Professor and was promoted to Professor in 1991. She is presently a member of the graduate Fields of Genetics and Development, Plant Biology, and Biochemistry, Molecular, and Cell Biology. She has previously served as Associate Director of the Cornell Biotechnology Program and Director of the Cornell Plant Science Center.

Research Focus

Dr. Hanson has two different research programs, related through their dependence on modern methods for examining genome sequences and gene expression. Her research in plant biology has always focused on the genome-containing organelles of plants, chloroplasts and mitochondria. Reflecting their prokaryotic origins, gene expression in these organelles differs from that of nuclear genes. In particular, organelle genes are often organized in operons that undergo considerable post-transcriptional processing, including RNA editing. The nuclear genome exerts significant control of organelle gene expression through the action of nuclear-encoded proteins targeted to the organelle. Research goals include identification of the components of the organelle RNA editing apparatus and an RNA/protein complex that suppresses the expression of an abnormal mitochondrial protein. Another study aims to identify proteins that control the morphology and movement of organelles. A third project concerns expression of bacterial microcompartments in chloroplasts in order to enhance the efficiency of photosynthesis. A second research area is the pathophysiology of the human illness Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, also known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis. Individuals with this illness often have gastrointestinal issues and evidence of immune system activation and dysfunction. One current project involves characterization of the gut and blood microbiome in healthy vs. ill subjects. Another project aims to identify differences in gene expression at baseline and following exercise in healthy and in subjects diagnosed with CFS/ME.

Teaching Focus

Dr. Hanson teaches lab sessions on methods for producing transgenic organisms and on fluorescence microscopy. She participates in a lecture class concerning genetic engineering for basic research and practical application. She is the coordinator of a team-taught class on ethics in biological research.

Selected Publications

Journal Publications

Presentations and Activities

  • RNA editing to rescue plants from organelle genome mutations. Plant and Animal Genome Meeting XXIV. January 2016. San Diego, CA.
  • Enhancing Photosynthesis by Engineering Chloroplast Proteins. SIPS Symposium. September 2015. School of Integrative Plant Sciences. Ithaca, NY.
  • Engineering Photosynthesis by Altering Chloroplast Proteins. Annual ASPB Meeting. July 2015. American Society of Plant Biologists. Minneapolis, MN.
  • The Gut Microbiome in ME/CFS. Annual InvestinME Workshop. May 2015. InvestinME. London, England.
  • Trans-factors in Plant RNA Editing. Gordon Conference on RNA Editing. March 2015. Gordon Conference Organization. Barga, Italy.
  • Engineering Cyanobacterial Rubisco into Chloroplasts. Gordon Conference on Chloroplast Biotechnology. January 2015. Gordon Conference Organization. Ventura, CA.
  • RNA Editing in Plant Organelles. Gordon Conference on Mitochondria and Chloroplasts. July 2014. Gordon Conference Organization. Barga, Italy.
  • Markers of Post-exertional Malaise. 9th Invest in ME Conference. May 2014. Invest in ME Charity. London, England.
  • Altering Plant Function Through Chloroplast Genome Engineering. Physiological and Molecular Plant Biology Seminar Series . April 2014. University of Illinois. Urbana, Illinois.
  • Components of the Plant Editosome. XXII Plant and Animal Genome Meeting . January 2014. XXII Plant and Animal Genome Meeting . San DIego, California.