August 3, 2016
Rob McGinty, M.D., Ph.D., has joined the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy as an assistant professor in the Division of Chemical Biology and Medicinal Chemistry. He also has a joint appointment in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics.
McGinty’s principal research interests surround structural biology and biochemistry, specifically chromatin regulation. The human genome is organized in cells in the form of chromatin by wrapping around tiny spools of proteins. Each protein spool wrapped by DNA is called a nucleosome and is the smallest unit of chromatin.
Prior to coming to UNC, McGinty was a Damon Runyon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Penn State University, where he solved a ground-breaking structure of a polycomb repressive complex, known as PRC1, bound to the nucleosome. His work extends the understanding of how chromatin complexes recognize the nucleosome and provides mechanistic insights into gene silencing by polycomb-group proteins, which can turn off the expression of genes through changes to chromatin. Inappropriate gene-silencing by polycomb-group proteins is correlated with many human cancers.
“We are fortunate to have had the opportunity to hire an innovative young investigator with such strong potential in the fields of structural biology and gene regulation,” said David Lawrence, Ph.D., the chair of CBMC and a Fred Eshelman Distinguished Professor. “He will clearly advance both programs as a joint faculty member, and he has the scientific acumen, skill set and collaborative nature to be enormously successful at UNC and beyond.”
McGinty says his future research plans include bridging his expertise in structural biology and protein chemistry to explore regulation of gene expression at the the nucleosome level, through continued work with polycomb repressive functions and other chromatin complexes.
McGinty received his Bachelor of Science in biochemistry from Iowa State University in 2003. He earned his Ph.D. in chemical biology from Rockefeller University in 2010 and his M.D. at Weill Cornell Medical College in 2011 as a member of the Tri-Institutional M.D.-Ph.D. Program. McGinty has published 18 peer-review papers to date, including three in both Nature and Cell.