Manning Lab News

April 29, 2021

Spotlight on Aaron Hosios

Science was always a passion for Aaron Hosios, but it was in grad school that he learned to appreciate the reality of what science and research entail. Aaron has been a postdoctoral fellow in the Manning Lab here in MET since 2017. He moved to Boston in 2011, after earning his A.B. in Molecular Biology from Princeton University, to pursue his Ph.D. in Biology from MIT.

“Contributing knowledge to something bigger” is a driving force for Aaron’s research. Aaron shared that he has always been motivated by “tackling intricate problems, and thinking of research as a puzzle to be solved… It’s also really exciting to think about how basic discoveries can inform our understanding of human physiology and disease.”

“My research project seeks to understand how lipid metabolism is regulated by growth-signaling pathways. I’m interested in uncovering how cells expand or shrink their membranes and other lipid pools when they decide to grow and divide… I hope that my project can contribute to a more complete understanding of how lipid metabolism is integrated with cell growth, especially in the context of cancer. More broadly I hope to explore how metabolic pathways are dysregulated in disease and in particular how these changes can be exploited therapeutically.”

Aaron and I originally spoke early on during the pandemic and discussed some of the obstacles that he and other researchers were running into while being in a more consistent state of isolation. He shared that while the pandemic has created obstacles for labs to meet in person and interact with a sense of normalcy, the virtual platforms we have become used to have made conferences and symposia, formerly held in person, available to professionals in research around the world. There has been no shortage of virtual seminars that he has been able to attend. This new dynamic, established out of necessity, is more equitable regarding accessibility. In person, conferences are expensive to attend and to run and these virtual platforms have made it possible for more host institutions and attendees to come together to collaborate, and redirect funds back towards their research. Aaron went on to share that he has been able to read more papers and expand his knowledge around his project and polish up on other skills, like coding, to help him improve in data analysis.

Aaron Hosios with a house plantSpeaking of equity, Aaron and I discussed areas where he would like to contribute to student outreach and mentorship, especially to young students from the local community. He reflected on his graduate school experiences. His department would invite high school students into the lab to perform simple experiments, expose them to the lab environment, and the scientific method. “I think it’s important to create pathways to work with students who might not otherwise be exposed to science. The department also invited high school teachers into the lab to learn some basic experiments that could be taken back to their classrooms.” The education system, early on, doesn’t do an adequate job exposing students to what the jobs in science really are, which can lead to inequity down the line. Last summer, Aaron participated in a program through Dana Farber that works with local students over the summer to expose them to the labs, give them the basic information to understand the process involved in researching cancer, and show them that they have the capacity to do this work.

When asked about equity in academic culture, Aaron wants the community to vocally address those issues and concerns. “In science, moving from one trainee position to another is a very linear process, and as the process goes along there are cumulative effects of inequity, which contributes to a lack of diversity within faculty.” Aaron agrees with policies that strongly interrogate the causes of racial and gender inequities in admitted grad students, postdoctoral fellows, and faculty members.

In particular, those in mentorship and teaching roles must reflect on the environments they oversee and ask; What is the cause for attrition throughout the process of reaching this level in academia and research, in this department, and elsewhere? What is the academic experience for these individuals, and what stress is created by being a person who is less well represented within a lab, classroom, or office? As a passionate mentor and teacher, Aaron tries his best to consider such questions of access.

Aaron Hosios getting Vaccine“While we are not all within the groups that are leading initiatives and analyzing what needs to change, each of us can be a part of the conversations taking place. People in places of leadership should continue to reflect on, voice, and effect change necessary in the environments they oversee.”

Aaron shared that he has been positively influenced by his mentors—his graduate advisor Matt Vander Heiden at MIT and his PI Brendan Manning here at HSPH. They both taught him a great deal in science and built an important rapport with him and other lab members, showing care for their well-being and academic development.

Aaron said that the most fun aspects of the lab are, “All the coffee breaks I’ve taken over the years! Taking a break to chat with lab mates about scientific ideas or to catch up about things outside of work is a great part of working in the lab.” I think we can all agree with that sentiment and appreciate the importance of social interaction and how it helps us to build and improve our work culture and community.

-Interview conducted and written by Tom Kelleher, edited by Audrey Fox

September 22, 2020

Spotlight interview with Madi Cissé

Madi CisséMadi Cissé and I connected by Zoom on an unusually warm day here in Cambridge and a lovely day in Rennes, France where Madi was visiting after three months of complete isolation. His community in Brittany has been very lucky through this pandemic, with clear guidance to remain at home for an extended time, resulting in very few cases. It sounded lovely to be by the seaside, spending time with family, and enjoying reading when he could.

Madi was planning to arrive in Boston only 48hours after the US closed its borders to all European travelers. He had an apartment and travel all arranged for March, and now in September, a full six months later, Madi will be joining as a Post-doctoral Fellow with the Manning Lab, here in MET. Since he had recently finished his Ph.D. at the University of Montpellier and was now in limbo until he reached the states, Madi a genuine optimist, found himself fortunate to spend a significant amount of time caring for his daughter, who is only a year and a half. He let me know the plan had originally been to arrive in Boston solo to settle into the new lab and city before his family joined him. However, with the continued uncertainty that has been presented to the global community, they all traveled together, his wife Nora and their daughter, to be sure no unforeseen travel restrictions will keep them apart for any length of time.

Madi Cissé with familyWith a newborn keeping his hands full, the absence of science and research was apparent during the first few months. He kept his mind busy, reading scientific papers, listening to symposia, virtually attending conferences, as well as joining journal clubs and lab meetings to start building a report with his new cohort. Madi has wanted to work in Dr. Manning’s Lab since his exposure to their publications early in work towards his Ph.D. He wanted to work with this team as they push cancer research forward, and has been fascinated by the discoveries that have been released by them each year.

Earning his Bachelor’s Degree, Masters, and Ph.D. from the University of Montpellier, it was no surprise that he was inspired by both his advisor, faculty, and his peers. He shared, “There are many people who have made him the scientist that he is now and many others who are shaping him into who he wants to be.” Madi mentioned, Dr. Laetitia Linares his mentor, Dr. Laurent Lecam, and his fellow former Ph.D. student who helped him to see how to be a good scientist, Romain Riscal, who is now in Celest Simon’s team at UPenn. When I asked what excited him about research, he shared, “It is in the planning and the imagining as well as the discoveries of things that have never been seen or realized before. It is working alongside colleagues through the scientific process and putting the puzzle together to see the whole story.”

Madi Cissé slam dunking in basketball gameThe hunger for scientific discovery for Madi stems from an overall desire to seek the unknown. When asked about passions outside of research, Madi described his adventures spearfishing, diving, and climbing as well as basketball, which he has played for the past 20 years. He enjoys doing things he has never done before. I told him that here in New England there is no shortage of outdoor adventures with places to discover. He quickly told me that he has already scoped out places to dive off The Cape.

After much anticipation, we look forward to the discoveries that will be made this year, with Madi on board. He has promised to soon share more stories and even his favorite food from Senegal and France. If you see Madi on Zoom or in person, I hope you will join me in welcoming him aboard our MET team! – Tom Kelleher –


Thursday, June 11

After 3 months away from the lab, Manning Lab returned to their research.

Manning Lab returns to Lab.

*Pictured – Manning Lab “Shift 1” (Front R. to Back C.; Meghan Wilkinson, Molly McNamara,  Sandra Schrötter and Aaron Hosios)