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Gage O. Leighton
Gage O. Leighton

Gage O. Leighton successfully defended his PhD dissertation titled Probing the Importance of MBD2 in the Localization and Formation of the NuRD Complex on April 6th 2023. His thesis work was completed under the direction of Dr. David C. Williams Jr. 

In 2017 Gage graduated from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte with a MS in Applied Physics in the lab of Dr. Irina Nesmelova. In just the previous year he had completed his requirements and degrees in Physics and Chemistry and through them he was introduced to research. In Dr. Nesmelova’s lab Gage studied the temperature dependence and function of critical amino acids in the stabilization of the DNA binding domain of the Sleeping Beauty transposase. It was this work that was instrumental to a future career in science which transitioned to a master’s degree followed by the move to Chapel Hill. 

Recruited through the Biological and Biomedical Sciences Program Gage rotated in several labs each specializing in novel biophysical techniques. This led to him entering the Biophysics training program securing funding for both Gage’s second and third years. Excited for the research of the Williams’ lab Gage quickly joined and continued to utilize these techniques in characterization the MBD2 protein of the Nucleosome Remodeling and Deacetylase (NuRD) complex. Through his studies of the NuRD complex Gage has identified how MBD2 interacts with different DNA substrates along with finding a novel interaction within the NuRD complex that he hopes could become a new therapeutic for β-hemoglobinopathies. 

While at UNC Gage has published a review article of the NuRD complex and a first authored paper in collaboration with Dr. Hong Wang’s lab at NCSU. Additionally, Gage has contributed to many other research groups and publications like the Waters and Riehn labs. Currently, he is anxiously awaiting a response from a recently submitted manuscript. Outside of research Gage sat as a social chair for Biochemistry and Biophysics for four years. In this position he was the brainchild of many departmental events that brought our community together even through the COVID pandemic. He is superseded by his good friend Amelia McCue to which he is very grateful. 

Gage is wrapping up several projects in the Williams lab soon to be submitted for publication while concurrently applying for postdoc positions. 

Please click here to see all of Gage’s publications.