Hee-Sun Han to deliver March 27 Frontiers lecture

Hee-Sun HanThe MBM Program continues its Frontiers in Miniature Brain Machinery lecture series March 27 at 4pm in 2269 Beckman with Dr. Hee-Sun Han. The lecture will be titled “Spatially Resolved, Integrative RNA Profiling to Study the Role of miRNA in Synaptic Plasticity and Neurodegenerative Diseases.”


Proper formation and function of synapses are essential for high order processing such as cognition and memory. Maturation of synapses as well as their activity-dependent modifications require highly controlled modulation of protein expression both temporally and spatially. Due to the distance of dendrites and axons from soma, it is largely accepted that delicate and timely control of synaptic compositions is achieved by the local regulation rather than the transport of structural and signaling molecules from soma. Despite their significance, the mechanistic understanding of how this regulation occurs is still lacking. Recent studies have suggested that miRNA exerts regulations over the translation and degradation of genes in nervous systems and thereby plays significant roles in various aspects of neuronal plasticity; furthermore, scientists have identified altered miRNA patterns in various neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. To obtain the detailed picture of how miRNA modulates the local expression of genes, and eventually proteins, we have been developing a new imaging-based, integrative transcriptomics platform. This platform reveals the spatial distribution of mRNA and miRNA species throughout the cells at single molecule resolution. In this talk, I will talk about the new imaging platform that we have been developing and its potential for studying the role of miRNA in synaptic plasticity and neurodegenerative diseases.

About Hee-Sun Han:

Han is an assistant professor of chemistry and Mark A. Pytosh Scholar at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. With her team in the Han Lab, she pioneers new technologies that integrate diverse chemical and physical principles to obtain a holistic understanding of intact, highly complex biological systems at single molecule resolution. Before joining the faculty at Illinois, she was a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University, where she developed drop-based microfluidic platforms for high throughput sequencing of single cells and viruses.

Han completed her PhD in physical chemistry at MIT as a Samsung and KASF fellow. Under the guidance of Moungi G. Bawendi, she designed and synthesized quantum dot-based imaging probes to establish a multiplexed, phenotypic, intravital cytometric imaging platform. The new technology enabled her to achieve live cell imaging in wildtype mice at single-cell resolution and probed their native extracellular environments in vivo. She earned a BA in physical chemistry from Seoul National University, where she graduated as valedictorian summa cum laude.

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