Kashlev Named First Deputy Chief, GRCBL

Nancy Parrish
Portrait of Mikhail Kashlev

By Nancy Parrish, Staff Writer

Editor’s note: The text for this article was adapted from an e-mail announcement to the Center for Cancer Research community from Robert Wiltrout, Ph.D., on September 8, 2014.

Robert Wiltrout, Ph.D., director, NCI Center for Cancer Research (CCR), recently announced the appointment of Mikhail Kashlev, Ph.D., to deputy chief of the Gene Regulation and Chromosome Biology Laboratory (GRCBL). The first deputy chief to be named in the GRCBL, Kashlev joins Jeff Strathern, Ph.D., GRCBL chief, in leading the laboratory in an active research environment that focuses on chromosome dynamics (recombination, chromosome segregation, and transposable elements) and regulation (transcription, silencing, and cell cycle control).

“I was very excited to learn that I was appointed to this position,” Kashlev said. He added that he plans to continue using bacteria and yeast, or single-celled organisms, as model systems for studying the basic biological processes of transcription and recombination. At the same time, however, he said he will “stimulate a steady transformation of the program toward the study of transcription regulation in the more complex mammalian system.”

Kashlev received his Ph.D. in molecular biology from the Moscow Institute of Molecular Genetics, Russia. He completed his postdoctoral training in the Department of Microbiology at Columbia University, New York, and he served as a research associate at the Public Health Research Institute in New York. In 1996, Kashlev joined the ABL?Basic Research Program at NCI at Frederick, where he established the Molecular Mechanisms of Transcription Section. Three years later, he joined CCR as a tenure?track investigator, and he became a principal investigator in 2007.

In addition to serving on the Steering Committee of the NCI Center of Excellence in Chromosome Biology, Kashlev is a member of the NIH Graduate Partnerships Program. He received an NCI Director’s Innovation Award in 2006 for developing a nanobiochemical approach for monitoring basic biological processes using light?emitting quantum dots.

Kashlev’s research focuses on the mechanism of DNA transcription fidelity, or accuracy, in bacteria, yeast, and mammalian cells, with emphasis on the impact of transcription errors on cell physiology. In collaboration with Strathern’s lab, he said, his section is developing an in vitro system for the analysis of transcription elongation by mammalian RNA polymerase II, with a focus on the mechanism governing transcription fidelity.

Having worked with Strathern for many years, he said, he is aware of the challenges and opportunities of the new position. “A combination of sophisticated genetics and state?of?the-art biochemistry is a stronghold of GRCBL, which distinguishes us from the other extramural and intramural research teams,” Kashlev said. “I will keep this highly effective and balanced structure of the laboratory for the years to come.”

Strathern appreciates Kashlev’s new role and his commitment to the lab. “I am delighted to have Misha [Kashlev] in that position,” he said. “I am confident that he will be an outstanding advocate for GRCBL, will expand our role in RNA biology, and will enhance our contribution to the CCR.”