Link: University of Iowa

Dr. Shea’s Biophysical Society Blog “Making the Most of the Annual Meeting: Tips for First-Timers”

February 15th, 2018 by Maren Rogers

Dr. Madeline Shea will be presented with the Emily M. Gray Award in Education at the 62nd Annual Meeting of the Biophysical Society in San Francisco on February 19. In advance of the meeting, Dr. Shea published a blog piece to help first-time attendees at the meeting. Read her advice here:

Congrats Fall 2017 Biochemistry PhD Graduates

January 16th, 2018 by Briana Horwath

Shuxiang Li, a Biochemistry PhD student mentored by Dr. Adrian Elcock, received a PhD on December 15,2017 entitled, “Computer simulations exploring conformational preferences of short peptides and developing a bacterial chromosome model”. Shuxiang has accepted a postdoctoral position with Dr. Wilma Olson’s Laboratory at Rutgers University.


Liyang Zhang, a Biochemistry PhD student mentored by Dr. Miles Pufall, received a PhD on December 15, 2017 entitled, “Defining the DNA Binding Energetics of the Glucocorticoid Receptor”. Liyang has accepted a position with Integrated DNA Technologies.

Congrats Shuxiang and Liyang!

Dr. Weeks receives 2017 CCOM Faculty Service Award

December 22nd, 2017 by Maren Rogers

Congratulations to Dr. Daniel Weeks, who was awarded the 2017 Faculty Service Award from the Carver College of Medicine (CCOM). Dr.  Weeks is an internationally known nuclei acid biochemistry and developmental biologist who has had a productive research career and won many teaching awards. Dr. Weeks has dedicated three decades of service to CCOM. His service activities have been diverse and of the highest impact. Thousands of students have benefited from his guidance and educational programming, establishing a strong foundation for their future careers. Of special note is Dr. Weeks’ strong dedication to curriculum development. He served on the Medical Education and Curriculum Committee from 1989-2003 and on the College of Medicine Curriculum Review/Steering Committee from 2014 – present. CCOM’s recent re-accreditation and the success of the New Horizons Curriculum are due in part to his tireless efforts.



Dr. Fuentes receives 2017 CCOM Collegiate Teaching Award

December 22nd, 2017 by Maren Rogers

Congratulations to Dr. Ernesto Fuentes for being chosen to receive a Carver College of Medicine (CCOM) Collegiate Teaching Award for 2017. Dr. Fuentes’ didactic teaching has included an unusually wide range of topics such as protein structure analysis, enzyme kinetics and molecular biology. He has taught a broad range of students in undergraduate laboratory courses (Biochem. 99:140) and large lecture courses (BIOC:3110) and graduate students in small group discussions (MCB 156:210) and larger didactic (BIOC:5242). In addition, he has organized workshops centered on NMR methodology for a wide range of individuals including faculty members. Whether it is in a classroom, conference room, or at a laboratory bench, his primary goal is to make sure that students understand concepts of biochemistry and their research projects.

Among current Biochemistry primary faculty, Dr. Fuentes joins Drs. Peter Rubenstein, Adrian Elcock, Lori Wallrath, Dan Weeks, Todd Washington, Kris DeMali, Pamela Geyer, and Marc Wold as recipients of the CCOM Collegiate Teaching Award.

2017 Biochemistry Newsletter now available

November 16th, 2017 by Maren Rogers

The 2017 Biochemistry @ Iowa newsletter is hot off the presses and available for download. Alumni and friends should receive a hard copy in the mail this week. If you would like to be added to our mailing list, please send your contact information to While you are at it, feel free to send us your news and updates! Previous newsletters are also available online.

Miles Pufall received Donald D. Dorfman Award

October 31st, 2017 by Maren Rogers

Dr. Miles Pufall received the 2017 Donald D. Dorfman Award of $10,000 for his paper entitled “Suppression of B-cell development genes is key to glucocorticoid efficacy in treatment of acute lymphoblastic leukemia,” which was published in the June 2017 issue of Blood. The Dorfman Award is given annually to the best research papers in leukemia and lymphoma research among members of the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center. Congratulations, Dr. Pufall!

Ryan Sheldon receives F32 award

September 18th, 2017 by Maren Rogers

Ryan Sheldon, a Postdoc in the Taylor laboratory, received an F32 Postdoctoral Fellowship awarded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Dr. Sheldon’s project entitled “Regulation of Hepatic Lipogenesis by a Mitochondrial Pyruvate Carrier-Citrate Carrier Axis,” addresses the major public health problem of hyperlipidemia during Type 2 Diabetes.

Excess lipid production in the liver during type 2 diabetes leads to elevated lipids in the liver and circulation, which in turn drives many diabetes associated complications. The liver can make lipids from glucose. To do this, the glucose metabolite pyruvate is imported into mitochondria, converted to citrate, and exported to the cytosol, where is it channeled into pathways for making cholesterol and fatty acids. This research project seeks to understand how the mitochondrial pyruvate carrier and mitochondrial citrate carrier work together to influence liver lipid synthesis, accumulation, and release. Success may reveal opportunities for decreasing liver and circulating lipid content, thereby improving health outcomes in type 2 diabetes.

Congratulations, Ryan!

Elizabeth Boehm receives 2017 Subramanian Thesis Award

August 31st, 2017 by Maren Rogers

Elizabeth Boehm, who completed her PhD with Dr. M. Todd Washington, has been awarded the 2017 Subramanian Award for best PhD thesis in the Department of Biochemistry. Dr. Boehm’s thesis was entitled “The regulation of translesion synthesis through binding and activation of polymerases by PCNA.” Elizabeth received her PhD in June 2016 and is currently a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Johannes Walter at Harvard Medical School.

Elizabeth is the 22nd winner of the Subramanian Award, which is made possible by a gift from Dr. Alap Subramanian, a 1964 PhD from the department, who parlayed his training with the late George Kalnitsky, (and with Irving Klotz at Northwestern and both Bernard Davis and Herman Kalckar at Harvard Medical School), into a highly successful career at the Max-Planck-Institut. Our deepest thanks to Dr. Subramanian and our heartiest congratulations to Dr. Boehm.

Please visit our website for a complete list of previous winners of the Subramanian Award.

Highlights of the 8th Annual Biochemistry Retreat

August 31st, 2017 by Briana Horwath

The Department of Biochemistry held their 8th Annual Retreat on August, 26, 2017, in the Pomerantz Center on the University of Iowa Campus. The retreat featured talks by Brittany Ripley (Graduate Student-Washington Lab), Pamela Geyer (Professor), Adam Rauckhorst (Postdoc.-Taylor Lab), and Maria Spies (Professor) and 32 poster presentations.

It was exciting to learn about all the science happening in the Department! Congratulations to the winners of the various contests listed below.

Graduate Student/Postdoc Poster Competition
There was a three way tie for 1st place.
Emily Malcolm Cushing (Davies Lab) “GPIHBP1-independent mechanisms of triglyceride clearance”
Lalita Oonthonpan (Taylor Lab) “A conserved role for the MPC1 C-terminus in MPC complex assembly and function”
Arpit Sharma (Taylor Lab) “Loss of skeletal muscle Mpc1 in mice stimulates fatty acid oxidation, leanness, and nitrogen retention”

Undergraduate/Others Poster Competition
Myles Young (Taylor Lab) “Nutritional-metabolic regulation of mitochondrial morphology”

Art Show Competition
Tingting Duan (Geyer Lab) “The Beauty of Drosophila”

Congrats Summer 2017 Biochemistry PhD Graduates!

August 17th, 2017 by Briana Horwath

Jennifer Bays, a Biochemistry PhD student mentored by Dr. Kris DeMali, received a PhD on August 4, 2017. Jen’s thesis is entitled, ” Mechanisms of E-cadherin Mechanotransduction”. Jen has accepted a postdoctoral position with Dr. Chris Chen at Boston University.




John Brogie, a Biochemistry PhD student mentored by Dr. David Price, recieved a PhD on August 4,2017. His thesis is entitled,”Reconsitution and functional analysis of 7SK snRNP”. John has accepted a postdoctoral position at Iowa State University


Xun (Allison) Chi, a Biochemistry PhD student mentored by Dr. Brandon Davies, received her PhD on August 4, 2017. Her thesis is entitled, “Extracellular regulation of LPL activity by angiopoietin-like proteins”. Xun has accepted a postdoctoral position with Dr. Steve Bensinger at the University of California Los Angeles.




Sarah Hengel, a Biochemistry PhD student mentored by Dr. Maria Spies, received her PhD on August 4, 2017. Her thesis is entitled, “Dissecting RAD52 function in DNA repair”. Sarah has accepted a postdoctoral position in Dr. Kara Bernstein’s Lab at the University of Pittsburgh in the Hillman Cancer Center.