Professor, Molecular Biology and Genetics School of Integrative Plant Science Plant Biology Section
Maureen R. Hanson is Liberty Hyde Bailey Professor in the Department of Molecular Biology & Genetics. She received a B.S. degree at Duke University and a Ph.D. in Cell and Developmental Biology from Harvard University. After completing an NIH postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard, she joined the faculty of the Biology Department at University of Virginia. She moved to Cornell as Associate Professor and was promoted to Professor in 1991. She is presently a member of the graduate Fields of Genetics and Development, Plant Biology, and Biochemistry, Molecular, and Cell Biology. She has previously served as Associate Director of the Cornell Biotechnology Program and Director of the Cornell Plant Science Center. She is currently Director for the Center for Enervating Neuroimmune Disease.
Gene expression in plant organelles
Organelle morphology and movement
Dr. Hanson has two different research programs, related through their dependence on modern methods for examining genome sequences and gene expression. Her research in plant biology has always focused on the genome-containing organelles of plants, chloroplasts and mitochondria. Reflecting their prokaryotic origins, gene expression in these organelles differs from that of nuclear genes. In particular, organelle genes are often organized in operons that undergo considerable post-transcriptional processing, including RNA editing. The nuclear genome exerts significant control of organelle gene expression through the action of nuclear-encoded proteins targeted to the organelle.
Research goals include identification of the components of the organelle RNA editing apparatus and an RNA/protein complex that suppresses the expression of an abnormal mitochondrial protein. Another study utilizes synthetic biology methods to introduce CO2-concentrating microcompartments into chloroplasts. A third project concerns engineering of the carbon-fixing enzyme Rubisco in chloroplasts in order to enhance the efficiency of photosynthesis. A second research area is the pathophysiology of the human illness Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), also known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME). Individuals with this illness often have evidence of immune system activation and dysfunction. One current project is examining metabolism of immune cells and metabolites in plasma. Another project aims to identify differences in gene expression and cargo of extracellular vesicles at baseline and following exercise in healthy and in subjects diagnosed with ME/CFS
- Lin MT, Salihovic H, Clark FK, Hanson MR. (2022) Improving the efficiency of Rubisco by resurrecting its ancestors in the family Solanaceae. Sci Adv. 8(15):eabm6871
- O'Neal AJ, Glass KA, Emig CJ, Vitug AA, Henry SJ, Shungu DC, Mao X, Levine SM, Hanson MR. (2022) Survey of anti-pathogen antibody levels in Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Proteomes 10(2):21
- Germain A, Giloteaux L, Moore GE, Levine SM, Chia JK, Keller BA, Stevens J, Franconi CJ, Mao X, Shungu DC, Grimson A, Hanson MR. (2022) Plasma metabolomics reveals disrupted response and recovery following maximal exercise in Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. JCI Insight. e157621
- Hines KM, Chaudhari V, Edgeworth KN, Owens TG, and Hanson MR. (2021) Absence of carbonic anhydrase in chloroplasts affects C3 plant development but not photosynthesis. Proc. Natl. Acad Sci USA 118(33):e2107425118
- O’Neal, A. and M.R. Hanson. (2021) The enterovirus theory of disease etiology in Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: a critical review Frontiers Med 8:688486
- Chaudhari VR and Hanson MR. (2021) GoldBricks: an improved cloning strategy that combines features of Golden Gate and BioBricks for better efficiency and usability. Synth Biol (Oxf). 2021 6(1):ysab032
- Bentolila S, Gipson AB, Kehl AJ, Hamm LN, Hayes ML, Mulligan RM, Hanson MR. (2021) A RanBP2-type zinc finger protein functions in intron splicing in Arabidopsis mitochondria and is involved in the biogenesis of respiratory complex I. Nucleic Acids Res. 49(6):3490-3506
- Germain, A, Levine SL, and Hanson MR. (2021) In-depth analysis of the plasma proteome in ME/CFS exposes disrupted Ephrin-Eph and immune system signaling Proteomes 9(1), 6 doi:10.3390/proteomes9010006
- Mandarano, A. H., Maya, J., Giloteaux, L., Peterson, D. L., Maynard, M., Gottshcalk, C., & Hanson, M. R. (2020). Myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome patients exhibit altered T cell metabolism and cytokine associations. JCI: The Journal of Clinical Investigation. 130:1491-1505.
- Hanson, M. R., & Conklin, P. L. (2020). Stromules, functional extensions of plastids within the plant cell. Current Opinion in Plant Biology. 58:25-32.
Presentations and Activities
- Implementing Strategies to Improve Photosynthetic Carbon Assimilation, School of Integrative Plant Sciences plenary lecture. November 2021 (in person) · Searching Plasma for Clues about ME/CFS. Massachusetts ME/CFS and FM Association. October 23, 2021 (online)
- Engineering Improvements in Photosynthesis in C3 plants. Plant Science Symposium, U. Nebraska, October 22, 2021 (online)
- Immune Dysfunction in ME/CFS. Sleep Research Society/NIH joint meeting, September 27, 2021 (online)
- Enhancing Photosynthesis in C3 plants. University of Illinois Physiological and Molecular Plant Biology Seminar Series, February 10, 2021 (online)
- Hypotheses about the role of enteroviral infection in the neuro/immune dysregulation in ME/CFS. 10th InvestinME Colloquium. June 3-4, 2021 (online)
- Current and Past Research on ME/CFS at the Cornell NIH Center. New York State Health Department: Scientific Research on Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in the Age of COVID-19. Oct 26, 2020 (online)
- Role of carbonic anhydrase in C3 plants. Plant and Animal Genome Meeting.. San Diego, CA. January 2020 (in person)
- Thoughts and Data on ME/CFS. 3rd Annual Community Symposium on the Molecular Basis of ME/CFS. September 2019. Open Medicine Foundation. Stanford, CA. (in person)
- The RNA editing complex in flowering plants. Gordon Conference on RNA Editing. March 2019. Gordon Conference Organization. Barga, Italy. (in person)
Awards & Honors
- Member, American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2021)
- Member, National Academy of Science (2021)
- Fellow (2017) American Society of Plant Biologists
- Liberty Hyde Bailey Professor (1995) Cornell University
- Outstanding Accomplishments in Basic Research (2009) College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
- Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Faculty Service (2008) State University of New York
- Lawrence Bogorad Award of the American Society of Plant Biologists (2006)
Dr. Hanson has taught lab sessions on methods for producing transgenic organisms and on fluorescence microscopy. She has participated in a lecture class concerning genetic engineering for basic research and practical application. She is the coordinator and lecturer in a team-taught class on ethics in biological research.
- BIOMG 7510: Ethical Issues and Professional Responsibilities
- BIOG 4990: Independent Undergraduate Research in Biology
- BIOG 2990: Introduction to Research Methods in Biology
- BIOMG 6410: Laboratory in Plant Molecular Biology
- PLBIO 6410: Laboratory in Plant Molecular Biology
323 Biotechnology Building
Ithaca, NY 14853
mrh5 [at] cornell.edu
Maureen in the news
A Cornell study describes a breakthrough in the quest to improve photosynthesis in certain crops, a step toward adapting plants to rapid climate changes and increasing yields to feed a projected 9 billion people by 2050.
- Molecular Biology and Genetics
Blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) are known to photosynthesize more efficiently than most crops, so researchers are working to put elements from cyanobacteria into crop plants. A new study describes a significant step towards achieving that goal...
- Molecular Biology and Genetics