Link: University of Iowa

Faculty Promotions – Washington and Spies

July 1st, 2015 by Maren Rogers

The department would like to congratulate Drs. M. Todd Washington and M. Ashley Spies on their promotions to Full Professor and Associate Professor, respectively.

Dr. Washingt_D3A3820on began working in the Department of Biochemistry as an assistant professor in September of 2003 after completing a PhD at the Ohio State University and a postdoctoral fellowship with Professors Louise and Satya Prakash focused on lesion-bypassing polymerases at the University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston. He was promoted to Associate Professor in July 2009. Dr. Washington has established an internationally visible research program on the function and structure of non-classical DNA polymerases, which are responsible for replicating damaged DNA.

maspies 200x300Dr. Spies began working in the Department of Biochemistry as an assistant professor in July of 2012. He holds a joint appointment in the Department of  Medicinal & Natural Products Chemistry in the College of Pharmacy. Dr. Spies recieved a PhD in Biochemistry from the University of Kansas in 1997. From 1997 to 2000, Dr. Spies held a MONBUSHO fellowship at Osaka University with Dr. Katsuyuki Tanizawa on quinone cofactor biosynthesis. In 2000, he joined Dr. Michael Toney’s laboratory at the University of California, Davis, focusing on on alanine racemase enzymology. In 2005, he was appointed Research Assistant Professor at University of Illinois.

Marie Migaud receives Levitt Endowed Visiting Professorship

July 1st, 2015 by Maren Rogers

MigaudDr. Marie Migaud, of Queen’s University Belfast, was awarded the Helen C. Levitt Endowed Visiting Professorship in the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine to perform research in collaboration with the laboratory of Dr. Charles Brenner. Dr. Migaud is a synthetic organic chemist who specializes in nucleosides and nucleotides. She has developed new synthetic technologies that have allowed her to produce novel analogs of nicotinamide riboside and, in collaboration with Dr. Brenner, she aims to develop a chemical biology toolkit to probe the intricacies of NAD metabolism in vertebrate systems. She will begin her 1 year visiting professorship in November 2015.

Emma Morrison receives Arnold O. Beckman Postdoctoral Fellows Award

July 1st, 2015 by Maren Rogers

Emma MorrisonEmma Morrison, a postdoctoral fellow in the Musselman laboratory, received an Arnold O. Beckman Postdoctoral Fellows Award for her project entitled “Multivalent readout of histone PTMs in chromatin regulation by BPTF: a structural and dynamic perspective,” which aims to investigate the combinatorial readout of multiple histone post-translational modifications by the linked PHD finger and bromodomain module of BPTF. Arnold O. Beckman Postdoctoral Awards support postdoctoral scholars who have the highest potential for success in an independent academic career in chemistry and the life sciences, and are intended to assist in their transition from “mentored yet independent” postdoctoral to an independent, tenure-track position. Congratulations, Emma!

Allison (Xun) Chi awarded Early Career Investigator Travel Award

June 15th, 2015 by Briana Horwath

Allison (Xun) Chi, a graduate student in Dr. Brandon Davies Lab, has been awarded an Early Career Investigator Travel Stipend Award for travel to the Kern Lipid Conference held in Colorado. Allison will be presenting a poster based on the Davies Lab’s recent paper, “Angiopoietin-like 4 modifies the interactions between lipoprotein lipase and its endothelial cell transporter GPIHBP1″.

Congratulations Allison!


Yuan Pan Successfully Defends Thesis Spring 2015

June 10th, 2015 by Briana Horwath

Pan, YuanYuan Pan, a biochemistry PhD Student mentored by
Dr. Sheila Baker, successfully defended her thesis on, March 31 , 2015, entitled “Targeting membrane proteins to inner segments of vertebrate photoreceptors”. Yuan has accepted a position as a postdoctoral fellow at Washington University in St. Louis and will be working on glioma and tumor microenvironment.

Congratulations Yuan!

Sarah Gardner awarded a 2015 Fight for Sight Summer Student Fellowship

June 4th, 2015 by Maren Rogers

Sarah Gardner, and undergraduate major in the Baker Laboratory, was awarded a 2015 Fight for Sight Summer Student Fellowship for her project entitled “Identifying mechanisms of protein targeting essential for the assembly of the photoreceptor ribbon synapse.”

Fight for Sight is a nonprofit organization that provides funding and acknowledgment to promising scientists early in their eye research careers, before they are eligible for government support from the National Institutes of Health. Sarah is joining an exclusive group of over 3,000 Fight for Sight dating back to 1947, many of whom have gone on to become outstanding leaders in eye and vision research and academic ophthalmology. Congratulations, Sarah!

Liam Hovey awarded 2015 Montgomery Biochemistry Scholar’s Prize Award

June 3rd, 2015 by Maren Rogers

LiamHoveyLiam Hovey, an undergraduate major in the Shea laboratory, has been awarded the 2015 Montgomery Biochemistry Scholar’s Prize Award for his outstanding research accomplishments and excellent presentation at the Lata Symposium. This prize was established by mentees, colleagues and friends of Dr. Rex Montgomery, Professor Emeritus of the Department of Biochemistry. Dr. Montgomery began his career at the University of Iowa in 1955, and is admired for his impact as a researcher, teacher and mentor. Dr. Montgomery is an internationally recognized carbohydrate biochemist and textbook author. While on the faculty, he served as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the College of Medicine, the Vice President of Research for the University and was the founding director of the University of Iowa Physician Assistant Program. Dr. Montgomery retired in 2005 after more than 50 years on the faculty.

Liam has presented his research twice at the Annual Biophysical Society Meetings, and twice at the Gibbs Conference on Biothermodynamics. He has received several awards for his scholarship and research including the national Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, UI CLAS Rhodes Dunlap Collegiate Fellowship, the Donald Burton Award in Chemistry, CLAS Dewey Stuit Award and ICRU Fellowships. He was selected to be the sole undergraduate speaking at the afternoon CLAS Commencement ceremony Saturday, May 16 (his talk can be seen here). This summer, he will be matriculating in the Medical Scientist Training Program at the University of Washington in Seattle.

SMWC announces Dr. Theresa L. Gioannini Endowment for Women in Science, awards student Gioannini Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship

May 13th, 2015 by Maren Rogers

_D3A3851Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (SMWC) announced its first endowed fellowship for undergraduate research honoring the life of Theresa L. Gioannini, Ph.D., Biochemistry Adjunct Professor and 1971 SMWC graduate. Dr. Gioannini passed away in January 2014. Through the generosity and love for his wife, Jerry Weiss, Ph.D., established the Gioannini Endowment for Women in Science. With this endowment, SMWC is able to offer a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship in Gioannini’s memory.

Read more about Dr. Gioannini and the endowed fellowship here.

Eleventh Annual Gene F. Lata Undergraduate Symposium

May 7th, 2015 by Judy Means

Ten students presented at this year’s Undergraduate Honors Program. This year marks the eleventh year for the Gene F. Lata Undergraduate Research Symposium. Please join Professor Marc Wold, Director of Undergraduate Studies and Honors Advisor, in congratulating these 2015 graduates and their research mentors for a job well done.

Lata group

Back row (left to right): David Wadkins, Michael Turek, Alexander Hjelmaas, Brady Campbell
Front row (left to right): Yinjie Zhai, Grant Young, Xin Xu, Liam Hovey, Sarah Mayer
Inset: Samuel Mueting
  • Brady A. Campbell
    Mentor: Adrian Elcock
    Understanding the DNA: AA Interface through Molecular Dynamics Simulations
  • Alexander J. Hjelmaas
    Mentor: Brandon Davies
    Investigating the Nature of ANGPTL3 Inactivation of LPL
  • Liam Hovey
    Mentor: Madeline Shea
    Calcium/Calmodulin Modulation of Voltage-Gated Sodium Channels
  • Sarah L. Mayer
    Mentor: Daniel Weeks
    Studies on Smooth Muscle Actin Mutations Linked to Human Disease
  • Samuel R. Mueting
    Mentor: Todd Washington
    Regulation of TLS Polymerase Activity by Ubiquitin Binding to a Novel Site on the Catalytic Core
  • Michael E. Turek
    Mentor: David Price
    Characterization of an RNA Polymerase II CTD Phosphatase
  • David Wadkins
    Mentor: Adrian Elcock
    Molecular Simulation Studies of Sequence Dependent Features of DNA and RNA Conformation
  • Xin Xu
    Mentor: Charles Brenner
    Understanding Site Specificity of Non-enzymatic Protein Acetylation in Mitochondria
  • Grant H. Young
    Mentor: Lori Wallrath
    A Fruit Fly Model of Muscular Dystrophy Reveals Novel Mechanisms of Pathology
  • Yinjie Zhai
    Mentor: Hillel Haim
    Structural Modulation of HIV-1 Env by Stability Modifying Agents

The symposium also included the presentation of two undergraduate awards, made possible by a gift from Alap Subramanian. The H.G. Wittmann Scholar Award was presented to Alexander J. Hjelmaas (Davies lab) and the H.G. Khorana Scholar Award was presented to Sarah L. Mayer (Weeks lab), recognizing their exceptional understanding of biochemistry and its value to society.

Congratulations to everyone named above and all of our 2015 graduates!

Alumnus Michael Feldkamp et al. received top honors at Vanderbilt’s TechVenture Challange

May 4th, 2015 by Maren Rogers

Biochemistry Alumnus Michael Feldkamp (Shea Lab, 2010 PhD) and a team of of graduate, business and law students from Vanderbilt University won top honors at last week’s TechVenture Challenge which teaches students how to bring patented “inventions” by Vanderbilt faculty members to market.

Mike’s team, named First Diagnostics, pitched Corafix (fluorocoxib A), a fluorescently labeled selective inhibitor of the COX-2 enzyme developed by Md. Jashim Uddin, Ph.D., Research Assistant Professor of Biochemistry and scientific mentor of First Diagnostics team, and Lawrence Marnett, Ph.D., Associate Vice Chancellor for Research and Director of the Vanderbilt Institute of Chemical Biology. COX-2 is overexpressed in many cancers, including colorectal cancer.

Read more about competition and their winning proposal here.