The GAL4 gene expression system has been a powerful tool for two-part control of fruit fly (Drosophila) genes for over two decades; but, until now, GAL4 has not worked in the model nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. Wang, Liu, and others have developed standardized driver and effector lines that use GAL4 from a cryophilic yeast species, Saccharomyces kudriavzevii. Unlike its more famous relative. S. cerevisiae, S. kudriavzevii grows well at temperatures close to 20 deg. C., the preferred growth temperature for C. elegans. Temperature-optimized GAL4 shows robust activity in C. elegans and should enable many new experiments in it. These findings have been published in the February 2017 issue of Nature Methods with a cover illustration representing C. elegans artistically by Voronoi tessellation. Erich Schwarz, research scientist in nematode genomics at MBG, was the Cornell member of this collaboration.
Raj has been doing medical research since she was 14 years old. Now as a postdoc at Cornell, she works as a population geneticist focused on how evolutionary adaptations have elevated or lowered different groups' susceptibility to chronic disease. She's researched everything from hypertension in African patients to adaptation to cold among native Siberians.