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Union alum first to be named a Harvard professor

Originally posted October 22, 2018

Congratulations to Amanda (Ward) Whipple, Ph.D. (UHS Class of 2003) for being the first Union alum to become a Harvard University professor.

“She is the first Union graduate (to my knowledge) to become a Harvard professor. We are so proud of her! Of course, parents Jamie and Larry are as well!” Superintendent Dr. Kirt Hartzler said. Jamie Ward is the senior executive administrative assistant to the superintendent.

Congratulations Amanda (Ward) Whipple, Ph.D. (UHS Class of 2003)
Assistant Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology
Harvard University
Beginning Summer of 2019

After receiving her Bachelors of Science in Biochemistry degree from The University of Oklahoma, Dr. Whipple performed graduate studies at Baylor College of Medicine. Under the mentorship of Dr. Thomas Cooper, she earned her doctoral degree in Molecular and Cellular Biology by investigating the role of an RNA binding protein in a neuromuscular disorder, Myotonic dystrophy type I. This research piqued her interest in the ability of RNA to cause disease and the potential to target RNA for the treatment of disease. In 2011, she accepted a postdoctoral fellowship at Ionis Pharmaceuticals, a leader in RNA therapeutics. At Ionis, she completed proof-of-concept studies for a novel therapeutic approach for Angelman syndrome, a neurodevelopmental disease. Angelman syndrome is caused by mutations in the gene inherited from one’s mother, but not by mutations inherited from one’s father. This research inspired her to ask questions about how parental gene inheritance is regulated in the brain and, in 2015, she became a postdoctoral fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to study this process. In 2019, Dr. Whipple will join Harvard University as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology. Her laboratory aims to determine the function of parental-specific gene expression in normal brain development and neurodevelopmental disorders.