Virtual FINS (Frontiers in Neuropsychiatry Seminars), March 1, 2022 at 1 P.M.

Dr. Marianna Zazhytska, Postdoctoral Research Scientist (Lab of Dr. Stavros Lomvardas, Zuckerman Institute, Columbia University) and CIG alumnus, will give a talk entitled Disruption of nuclear architecture as a cause of COVID-19 induced loss of smell at 1pm on March 1, 2022.

The zoom seminar can be joined here :

Meeting ID: 945 9229 3965
Passcode: FINS

SARS-CoV-2 infects less than 1% of cells in the human body, yet it can cause severe damage in a variety of organs. Thus, deciphering the non-cell-autonomous effects of SARS-CoV-2 infection is imperative for understanding the cellular and molecular disruption it elicits. Neurological and cognitive defects are among the least understood symptoms of COVID-19 patients, with olfactory dysfunction being their most common sensory deficit. Dr. Marianna Zazhytska and colleagues show that both in humans and hamsters, SARS-CoV-2 infection causes widespread downregulation of olfactory receptors (ORs) and of their signaling components.This non-cell-autonomous effect is preceded by a dramatic reorganization of the neuronal nuclear architecture, which results in dissipation of genomic compartments harboring OR genes. Their data provide a potential mechanism by which SARS-CoV-2 infection alters the cellular morphology and the transcriptome of cells it cannot infect, offering insight to its systemic effects in olfaction and beyond.


Zazhytska M, Kodra A, et al. (2022) Non-cell-autonomous disruption of nuclear architecture as a potential cause of COVID-19-induced anosmiaCell. 2022 Feb 2:S0092-8674(22)00135-0
Columbia Zuckerman Institute News: Smell Loss with COVID-19 Begins in the Nuclear Hearts of the Nose’s Sensory Cells(February 2, 2022)
Delaneau O, Zazhytska M, et al. (2019) Chromatin three-dimensional interactions mediate genetic effects on gene expression.Science. 2019 May 3;364(6439):eaat8266.


Dr. Marianna Zazhytska was born in the city of Dnipro in central Ukraine and raised in Zdolbuniv, a small town in western Ukraine. She moved to the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, for her university studies, and she received her Bachelor’s (in Biology), Master’s (in Genetics), and Ph.D. (in Biophysics) all at Taras Schevchenko National University of Kyiv. During her doctoral work in Kyiv, Dr. Zazhytska received a special fellowship from the University of Lausanne in Switzerland inviting her to pursue doctoral work in Lausanne. Not one to pass up a valuable opportunity nor one to abandon work unfinished, Dr. Zazhytska chose to accomplish the remarkable feat of completing her doctoral work in Ukraine, receiving her first Ph.D., in Biophysics, in 2013, and then moving to Switzerland to pursue doctoral work in a different field at the University of Lausanne, receiving her second Ph.D., in Human Genomics, in 2018!

Dr. Zazhytska’s second Ph.D. work, in the Lab of Dr. Alexandre Reymond at the University of Lausanne’s Center for Integrative Genomics, focused on the 3-dimensional organization of chromatin structure and domains, culminating in a publication in Science. In 2019, she moved to New York City to join the Lab of Dr. Stavros Lomvardas at the Zuckerman Institute of Columbia University as a Postdoctoral Research Scientist, to further pursue her interests in chromatin biology, spatial genome organization, and DNA topology. She is currently working on projects aimed at unraveling how long-range chromatin interactions are involved in gene regulation and smell loss in Alzheimer’s Disease and COVID-19. Her work in identifying the mechanism of COVID-induced anosmia (loss of smell) was just published in Cell this February.

The work of Dr. Zazhytska is phenomenal, and her identification of the non-cell-autonomous mechanisms of SARS-CoV-2 infection will lead to the unraveling of many unresolved issues such as Long-COVID symptoms, paving the way for better treatments and preventions to end this devastating pandemic. However, before she could celebrate her great accomplishment, her world – and our world – is darkened by the escalating and now full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine – a sovereign nation with more than 40 million people, a long history and a beautiful culture, now fighting to preserve their home, freedom, and democracy against the unprovoked imperialistic aggression of Russia, and caught in the middle of the harsh geopolitical maneuverings of the surrounding powers.

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