Dr. Amy Pasquinelli is a Professor of Biology in the Molecular Section at the University of California, San Diego. The overall goal of the research in the Pasquinelli lab is to understand the molecular mechanisms underlying the biogenesis, specificity and regulatory functions of microRNAs in an endogenous context. Her lab primarily uses Caenorhabditis elegans worms as a model animal system to investigate some of the most challenging problems in this relatively new field of study. The pathways being studied are broadly conserved throughout animal phylogeny and relevant to understanding the role of miRNAs in human development and disease. Research in the Pasquinelli lab has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, the American Federation of Aging Research, Keck, Searle Scholar, V, Peter Gruber and Emerald Foundations.
Dr. Pasquinelli received her B.A. from Bucknell University with a Major in Biology and Minors in Chemistry and English. In 1998 she was granted a Ph.D. in Biomolecular Chemistry from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Dr. Pasquinelli's postdoctoral training in the Departments of Genetics, Harvard Medical School, & Molecular Biology, Massachusetts General Hospital, was supervised by Dr. Gary Ruvkun. During this time, her research on the newly emerging field of microRNAs was supported by the MGH Fund for Medical Discovery and Helen Hay Whitney Foundations. As a post doc, she showed for the first time that tiny RNA genes, later to be called microRNAs, were present in humans. With a team of collaborators, Dr. Pasquinelli established that the let-7 microRNA and its developmentally regulated expression pattern are broadly conserved across animal phylogeny. It turned out to be just one example of hundreds of microRNA genes that now constitute a new field of study.