Research Menu
Molly Hammell

Molly Hammell

Associate Professor

Ph.D., Dartmouth College, 2003

mhammell@cshl.edu | (516) 367-5009

Hammell Lab

To ensure that cells function normally, tens of thousands of genes must be turned on or off together. To do this, regulatory molecules - transcription factors and non-coding RNAs – simultaneously control hundreds of genes. My group studies how the resulting gene networks function and how they can be compromised in human disease.

Human development requires the regulated activity of thousands of genes in hundreds of distinct cell types throughout life. One requirement for this process is that each cell must contain an intact, functional genome free from mutations.  One type of mutation can arise  from the  activation of transposable elements (TEs).  These viral-like parasites lay dormant within our genomes, but have the  capacity to hop into new genomic locations, causing mutations  as they break  the surrounding DNA sequence. Mounting evidence has implicated transposon activity in a host of human diseases, with particular evidence for TE activation in neurodegenerative diseases: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and fronto-temporal dimensia (FTD).

    Redefining biologists, redefining genes

    Redefining biologists, redefining genes

    May 16, 2017

    Base Pairs podcast Set aside your notions of how biologists are born, or what the word “gene” means as you listen to our first chat episode. We talk with Assistant Professor Molly Hammell, a genome biologist who started out as an astrophysicist. She tells us what it’s like to peer deep into space using a...


    Research suggests a possible role for a storm of ‘jumping genes’ in ALS

    Research suggests a possible role for a storm of ‘jumping genes’ in ALS

    March 27, 2017

    Do genome-defending anti-transposon systems collapse in ALS patients? Stony Brook and Cold Spring Harbor, NY — By inserting an amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)-linked human gene called TDP-43 into fruit flies, researchers at Stony Brook University and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) discovered a potential role for transposons in the disease. Transposons, which are also called jumping...


    Dark matter of the genome, part 1

    Dark matter of the genome, part 1

    March 15, 2017

    Base Pairs podcast Could “genome” be a misnomer? The name implies that our genetic information is mainly genes, yet when the Human Genome Project was completed in 2003, it revealed that genes comprise a tiny minority. About 98 percent of the genome is something else—a kind of genomic dark matter. We’re kicking off the second...


    Riding out of the shadows of ALS, toward better treatments

    Riding out of the shadows of ALS, toward better treatments

    August 1, 2016

    LabDish blog Written by Lisa Krug Watson School graduate Lisa Krug studied ALS in flies, but the human element of this research always remained present for her. She explains in this guest blog post. ALS is a disease that makes itself nearly invisible. Although each year 6,400 Americans are diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, often called...


    ALS Ride for Life comes to Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

    ALS Ride for Life comes to Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

    May 23, 2016

    Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y. – ALS researchers and others from CSHL gathered to welcome Chris Pendergast and his ALS Ride for Life team to campus on Monday, May 16, marking the end of Day 7 of an annual 12-day, 100-plus mile patient wheelchair ride across Long Island to raise money for ALS research, support and awareness. This was the...


    Ride For Life gives $300,000 for ALS research at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL)

    Ride For Life gives $300,000 for ALS research at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL)

    October 20, 2015

    Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y. – ALS Ride For Life this month presented $300,000 to CSHL Assistant Professor Molly Hammell and Associate Professor Josh Dubnau to pursue research into possible genetic causes of the devastating disease. Since 1997, Ride For Life has conducted an annual twelve-day, one hundred plus mile patient wheelchair ride across Long Island...


    CSHL’s Dr. Molly Hammell named 2014 Rita Allen Foundation Scholar

    CSHL’s Dr. Molly Hammell named 2014 Rita Allen Foundation Scholar

    July 1, 2014

    Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) Assistant Professor Molly Hammell has been recognized as one of seven 2014 Rita Allen Scholars. The award supports promising early-career investigators, providing up to $110,000 annually for five years. Hammell has been designated the Milton E. Cassel Scholar, the Foundation’s highest honor, which pays tribute to a long-time president of...


    Storm of ‘awakened’ transposons may cause brain-cell pathologies in ALS, other illnesses

    Storm of ‘awakened’ transposons may cause brain-cell pathologies in ALS, other illnesses

    September 4, 2012

    A team of neuroscientists and informatics experts at CSHL reports important progress today in an effort to understand the relationship between transposons and mechanisms involved in serious neurodegenerative disorders including ALS, FTLD and Alzheimer’s disease. Cold Spring Harbor, NY — A team of neuroscientists and informatics experts at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) reports important...


Building publication list.