Ben O'Shaughnessy's group uses mathematical modeling, computational modeling, and machine learning methods to study embryo development, neurotransmission, exocytosis, cell division, and other fundamental processes in health and disease.
Neurotransmission, neurotransmitter release, exocytosis
We study neurotransmission and the machinery that releases neurotransmitters by exocytosis at neuronal synapses in the brain. This remarkable machinery achieves the millisecond temporal resolution required for neural circuits to encode information for cognition, sensation, and coordinated motor activity. Its misregulation is associated with neurodegenerative and neurodevelopmental disorders. Similar mechanisms govern secretion of other essential bioactive compounds, including hormones such as insulin, cytokines in the immune system and enzymes.
Development of the embryo
The programs of development transform the early embryo of a few identical cells into the complex adult organism with extraordinary robustness to stochastic variations. We use machine learning and computational analysis to investigate the mechanisms that sculpt tissue and enforce robustness. We seek mechanisms of developmental disease to motivate prevention strategies.
Mechanics of cell division, mechanosensing
We investigate one of life’s most essential force-generating machines, the actomyosin contractile ring that divides cells at the end of the cell cycle during cytokinesis. Cell division propagates the genome and allows organisms to grow and repair, and its misregulation is the essential feature of cancer. Related interests in mechanobiology are mechanosensing and remodeling in the actomyosin cytoskeleton and regulation of cell wall growth in cell walled organisms.
Entry by the SARS-CoV-2 virus
SARS-CoV-2 causes the global pandemic COVID-19. We use atomistic and coarse-grained molecular dynamics simulations to study how the virus uses its surface spike glycoprotein machinery to invade lung, nasal mucosa or small intestine cells by binding target cell ACE2 receptors and fusing its membrane envelope with target membranes. For comparison, we quantitatively analyze cryo-electron tomograms by our experimental collaborators.
February 22, 2023
Dong presented his work: A Dynamic Mechanically Stabilized Membrane Reservoir Mediates Fast Endocytosis at the Biophysical Society Annual Meeting 2023 held by the Biophysical Society (BPS).
Cristina presented her work: Synaptotagmin is not only a Calcium Sensor, but also Exerts Entropic Forces that Drive Membrane Fusion at the Biophysical Society Annual Meeting 2023 held by the Biophysical Society (BPS).
Cristina was also invited as one of the co-chairs of the platform: Exocytosis and Endocytosis.
Congratulations Dong and Cristina!
January 5, 2023
Rui's research investigated mechanisms of exocytosis and endocytosis, and cell entry by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
December 04, 2022
Dong An and Hongkang Zhu present Microsymposium talks at the annual ASCB meeting, Washington DC.
Congratulations, Dong and Hongkang!
December 04, 2022
Tianyi presented her work: Contractile Actomyosin Cables and Pulling Forces from Adjacent Tissue Cooperate to Drive Drosophila Germ-band Extension at the Cell Bio 2022 conference held by the American society of Cell Biology (ASCB).
November 02, 2022
Ioana-Cristina Butu has joined our group as a PhD researcher.
June 16, 2022
Hongkang gave a talk about his work on the physical mechanisms of Drosophila gastrulation in the Emerging Researcher Seminar Series held by the American Society of Cell Biology (ASCB).
June 1, 2022
Zeeshan Khan has joined our group as a REU undergraduate researcher.
June 1, 2022
Stephanie Morales has joined our group as an undergraduate researcher.
May 31, 2022
Kunal Gaikwad has joined our group as a MS researcher.
November 22, 2021
Ioana-Cristina Butu has joined our group as a MS researcher.
June 01, 2021
Microsoft Azure will continue supporting the O’Shaughnessy group with high-performance computing resources till May 31st 2022. This is a continuation of the award from the COVID-19 HPC Consortium for investigating the mechanisms of SARS-CoV-2 entry mediated by the spike protein.
November 16, 2020
Tianyi Zhu has joined the group for her PhD research.
November 3, 2020
Yamini Ananth has joined our group as an undergraduate researcher.
September 08, 2020
In the O'Shaughnessy and Simunovic research groups a team of undergrad and Ms students used modeling tools and designed organoid experiments to study the SARS CoV-2 virus.
August 20, 2020
The O’Shaughnessy group has been awarded Microsoft high-performance computing resources to research SARS-CoV-2. These resources enable our group to investigate the mechanisms by which the SARS-CoV-2 enters cells.
August 14, 2020
Postdoc Zach McDargh presented his work on the mechanisms by which Ca2+ triggers neurotransmitter release in the brain at the Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute as part of the Zuckerman Institute Postdoctoral Seminar series. Congratulations Zach!
August 28, 2019
Hongkang Zhu has joined our group to perform his doctoral research.
August 28, 2019
Jin Zeng has joined our group to perform his doctoral research.
May 6, 2019
We presented our research on neurotransmitter release in the brain at the Quantitative Aspects of Membrane Fusion and Fission Meeting in beautiful Padova, Italy.
October 24, 2018
Dong An has joined our group to perform his doctoral research.
August 27, 2018
Roberto Alonso-Matilla joins our group as a postdoc. Welcome Roberto!
July 15, 2018
Nadiv Dharan joins our group as a postdoc.
Welcome to Nadiv!
© O'Shaughnessy Group 2018