Milton E. Cassel Scholar
Assistant Professor; Department of Molecular Biology & Biochemistry
Ph.D., Harvard University
B.S., Haverford College
Kevin Monahan has been designated the Milton E. Cassel Scholar for the 2022 class of Rita Allen Foundation Scholars. This special award honors the memory of a longtime President of the Rita Allen Foundation who passed away in 2004.
In order to fit the long DNA molecules that encode our genome into a tiny nucleus, our cells fold the DNA into complex 3-dimensional structures. This folding does more than save space; it also affects how genes are turned on and off. Intriguingly, different types of cells in the nervous system exhibit distinct 3D nuclear structures. However, the functional significance and regulation of these 3D nuclear structures remains poorly understood. The Monahan lab studies the protein machinery that controls the 3D positioning of genes within the nucleus and how the formation of 3D nuclear structures regulates gene expression. For example, we recently discovered that olfactory sensory neurons, which detect chemical odorants in the air, use the 3D positioning of odorant receptor genes in the nucleus to control the specific type of odorant receptor that they will express. Using molecular, genetic, and genomic approaches, we are investigating protein complexes that regulate 3D nuclear structures in olfactory neurons and in defined populations of neurons within the central nervous system.