Link: University of Iowa

Dr. Weeks appointed the Harold A. Myers Professor in the Basic Sciences

May 16th, 2018 by Maren Rogers

Dr. Daniel Weeks has been appointed as the Dr. Harold A. Myers Professor in the Basic Sciences. This three year professorship, effective August 1, 2018, was established to support a PhD faculty member who exhibits exemplary skill and passion for the teaching of medical students and who is a leader in understanding and developing new methods of medical education. This well-deserved honor is a testament to Dr. Week’s outstanding commitment and dedication to the education of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows.

Biochemistry Senior Laura Fischer Featured in The Daily Iowan

May 15th, 2018 by Judy Means

Laura Fischer, recent Biochemistry graduate, was featured in the May 10, 2018, edition of The Daily Iowan.  Please click on Laura’s picture for link to the May 10th Daily Iowan.

Tien Thuy (Jane) Nguyen Awarded the Hancher-Finkbine Undergraduate Student Medallion

May 15th, 2018 by Judy Means

Tien Thuy (Jane) Nguyen was awarded the Hancher-Finkbine Undergraduate Student Medallion at the 101st Finkbine Dinner on April 10, 2018.  Vice President for Student Life Melissa Shivers was emcee, and UI President J. Bruce Harreld presented the Hancher-Finkbine Medallions and Distinguished Student Leader certificates. 

Jane Nguyen, from Sioux City, Iowa, is majoring in biochemistry in the Carver College of Medicine. Nguyen is an active leader, participant, and co-founder of the Conversation Center, an integrated learning platform designed to provide non-confident English speakers the opportunity to explore and better understand the English language. The center, now a part of the rhetoric department’s curriculum, has provided over 3,101 independent one-on-one sessions since the spring of 2016. In addition, Nguyen has actively participated in more than 800 hours of undergraduate independent research in the Department of Biochemistry, focusing on Replication Protein A and its effect on DNA repair. She exemplifies leadership not only in the classroom but also in her extracurricular activities. As current president and co-founder of Alpha Kappa Delta Phi, Nguyen has played an integral part in the organization’s accomplishments, including achieving active status in the Multicultural Greek Council, establishing the Chapter Alumnae Association, and hosting campuswide workshops aimed at increasing mental health awareness within the Asian community. In the spring of 2017, Nguyen was awarded the T. Anne Cleary scholarship and the Helen Reich scholarship for her scholarship, leadership, and service.

Congratulations, Jane!

Two Biochemistry Students Recognized by the Honors program as Honors at Iowa Scholars

May 15th, 2018 by Judy Means

Each year, the Honors program identifies extraordinary graduating seniors across the University of Iowa for celebration as Honors at Iowa Scholars. This high recognition acclaims student work in and beyond the classroom, with an emphasis on the applicant’s knowledge, skill, and experience as well as outstanding academic performance, excellence within their chosen discipline(s), and any contributions made to Honors and the University of Iowa community through performance, research, organizational leadership, volunteer service and intellectual or creative engagement.  Two of our graduating seniors were recognized by the Honors program:

Lance Heady, Quincy IL, Neurobiology, Biochemistry

Lance will graduate in May with degrees in Biochemistry and Neurobiology. Lance will be pursuing a PhD in neuroscience from UT Southwestern with hopes of continuing his pursuit of understanding how cells in the brain die. While there Lance also wants to continue growing mentoring skills to help guide students, a true love of his. He will also continue training in the art of ballroom dancing and hopes to one day be a national amateur champion. After graduating in May, Lance will be pursuing a PhD in neuroscience at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

Alora Kraus, Biochemistry, Iowa City, IA

Alora Kraus will graduate in May with a degree in biochemistry and a certificate of writing. Alora has been involved with the Writing Fellows program through the UI Writing Center, where she helps peers improve their writing skills in classes of all disciplines. Alora has also worked with Michael Schultz, Craig Just, and Eric Taylor in research labs in Radiology, Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Biochemistry. During the 2016-2017 academic year, Alora studied abroad in Glasgow, Scotland, where she cultivated a love for culture and travel. Her next step will be applying to the Peace Corps for a position in the health sector. Alora will be applying for a Peace Corps position in the health sector for anywhere. Upon her return, she would like to enroll in a graduate program for public health.

Congratulations, Alora and Lance!

14th Annual Gene F. Lata Undergraduate Research Symposium

May 3rd, 2018 by Judy Means

Ten students presented at this year’s Undergraduate Honors Program. This year marks the fourteenth year for the Gene F. Lata Undergraduate Research Symposium. Please join Professor Marc Wold, Director of Undergraduate Studies and Honors Advisor, in congratulating these 2018 graduates and their research mentors for a job well done.

(back row – left to right): Steven Huang, Gabriel Fortunato, Preston Anderson, Benjamin Spector
(front row – left to right): Devin Reusch, Alexandra Bess, Tien Thuy (Jane) Nguyen, Laura Fischer, Titus Hou
(far right) – Lance Heady
  • Preston Anderson
    Mentor: John Engelhardt
    Submucosal Gland Myoepithelial Cells Are Reserve Stem Cells That Can Regenerate Mouse Tracheal Epithelium 
  • Alexandra Bess
    Mentor: Jennifer Fiegel
    Protein Effects of BALF on Various Polystyrene Nanoparticles
  • Laura Fischer
    Mentor: Marc Wold
    A Potential Role of Alternative Replication Protein A in Huntington’s Disease Progression
  • Gabriel Fortunato
    Mentor: Amnon Kohen
    Uncovering the Evolutionary Mechanism of Enzyme Catalysis
  • Lance Heady
    Mentor: Andrew Pieper
    A Neuron and it’s Survival: A Tale of Drug Discovery
  • Titus Hou
    Mentor: Ernesto Fuentes
    A Newly Identified Sub-Pocket That Plays a Unique Role in Scribble PDZ1 – SGEF iPBM Interaction
  • Steven Huang
    Mentor: Ernesto Fuentes
    The Structural Characterization and Ligand Identification of the SrrB Cache Domain
  • Tien Thuy (Jane) Nguyen
    Mentor: Marc Wold
    Diverse Interactions of the Multifunctional, Regulatory Domain of Replication Protein A
  • Devin Reusch
    Mentor: Todd Washington
    Polymerase Switching During Translesion Synthesis: A Tale of the Tail
  • Benjamin Spector
    Mentor: David Price
    Association of the Pol II CTD Phosphatase Ssu72 with Transcription Complexes

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 Steven Huang (Fuentes lab) and the H.G. Khorana Scholar Award was presented to Laura Fischer (Wold lab), recognizing their exceptional understanding of biochemistry and its value to society.

Congratulations to everyone named above and all of our 2018 graduates!

 

Kelli Sylvers Receives AHA Predoctoral Fellowship

April 30th, 2018 by Briana Horwath

 

Kelli Sylvers, Biochemistry graduate student in Dr. Brandon Davies lab, has received an American Heart Associate Predoctoral Fellowship. The AHA Predoctoral Fellowship is intended to support “promising students” in pre-doctoral or clinical health training programs. Kelli’s proposal entitled, “Lipase inhibition by ANGPTL3 and ANGPTL8” will be funded at the maximum amount for two full years. The project focuses on understanding how two proteins, ANGPTL3 and ANGPTL8, regulate HDL and triglyceride metabolism. High triglyceride levels and low HDL levels are associated with cardiovascular disease. The project asks two important questions: 1) How does ANGPTL3 inhibit its targets lipoprotein lipase (the protein responsible for clearing triglycerides from the blood) and endothelial lipase (a protein that reduces HDL levels in the blood). 2) Does ANGPTL3 require ANGPTL8 to inhibit EL (the Davies lab has previously shown that ANGPTL3 requires ANGPTL8 to inhibit LPL). To answer these questions, experiments have been designed to study protein binding and protein activity as well as studies using a mouse model lacking ANGPTL8 to understand the effects in a living organism. Targeting ANGPTL3 or ANGPTL8 has the potential to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease by lowering plasma triglyceride levels. This research may enhance our ability to target these proteins in a way that would have less side-effects or unintended consequences for patients being treated for cardiovascular disorders.

Biochemistry Alum, Tristram Parslow, receives CCOM Distinguished Alumni Award for Achievement

April 27th, 2018 by Maren Rogers

Tristram Parslow, 1983 MD/PhD with Dr. Daryl Granner, was recently awarded a Carver College of Medicine Distinguished Alumni Award for Acheivement. Dr. Parslow has excelled in every aspect of his career—as a researcher, teacher, and department leader. His early work at the University of Iowa on immunoglobulin gene expression addressed issues that stumped Nobel laureates and National Academy of Sciences members. While on the pathology department faculty at the University of California, San Francisco at the height of the AIDS epidemic, Dr. Parslow engaged in a series of studies of the molecular virology of HIV and other RNA viruses, including influenza. In the 14 years since Dr. Parslow joined Emory University as chair of the Department of Pathology, their annual National Institutes of Health funding has grown from $12 million to $34 million. He continues to lead and mentor others in the field, both at Emory and as president of the Association of Pathology Chairs.

Five Undergraduate Students Awarded 2018 Rex Montgomery Scholarships

April 24th, 2018 by Maren Rogers

The 2018 Rex Montgomery Scholarships were award to:

  • Jesse Cochran, Dr. Dale Abel’s laboratory;
  • Abinav Jyotis, Dr. Krystal Parker’s laboratory;
  • Ariel Kopel, Dr. Sheila Baker’s laboratory;
  • Brianna Lupo, Dr. Catherine Musselman’s laboratory; and
  • Johnathan Melvin.

Rex Montgomery Scholarships recognize undergraduate students for their outstanding academic record and commitment to research. This scholarship was established by the late Dr. Rex Montgomery, Professor Emeritus of the Department of Biochemistry. Dr. Montgomery began his career at the University of Iowa in 1955, and was admired for his impact as a researcher, teacher and mentor. Dr. Montgomery was 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.

Preston Anderson Publishes in Cell Stem Cell

April 20th, 2018 by Briana Horwath

Preston Anderson, a Biochemistry senior undergraduate student in John Engelhardt’s Lab,  is the first author on a paper published in Cell Stem Cell. The paper entitled, “Submucosal Gland Myoepithelial Cells are Reserve Stem Cells that can Regenerate Mouse Tracheal Epithelium” describes research on glandular myoepithelial cells (MECs). These cell were found to to be flexible and develop into replacement cells in their local environment.

“We demonstrated that MECs can self-renew and differentiate into seven distinct cell types in the airway,” says study co-first author Preston Anderson, a UI undergraduate working in the lab of John Engelhardt, UI professor and department head of anatomy and cell biology. “No other cell type in the lung has been identified with this much stem cell plasticity.” (Noon News – April 12, 2018)Congratulations Preston and the Engelhardt lab!

Dr. Dieckman awarded Nebraska EPSCoR First Award

April 5th, 2018 by Briana Horwath

Dr. Lynne Dieckman (Creighton University) former Biochemistry Post-Doc (Musselman Lab) and Molecular and Cell Biology Program PhD Student (Washington lab) is the recipient of the Nebraska EPSCoR FIRST Award. This is a one year award that includes a 100% match from Creighton University. The purpose of this NSF funded award is to help early career faculty compete for an NSF CAREER grant.

The National Science Foundation EPSCoR FIRST Award will fund Dr. Lynne Dieckman’s project entitled “Understanding Protein Interactions that Link DNA Replication and Nucleosome Assembly.” All living things, from simple microbes to higher plants and animals, depend on the stable transmission of biological information from parent to offspring. Genomic instability results from alterations in gene expression, which is controlled largely through the organization of the genes in eukaryotic chromosomes – i.e., the packaging of DNA into nucleosomes. The eukaryotic genome must be accurately organized into nucleosomes immediately following DNA replication. This process is called replication-coupled nucleosome assembly, and is mediated by two key factors: CAF-1, the protein complex that induces the formation of nucleosomes on newly synthesized DNA, and PCNA, the ring-shaped sliding clamp that recruits and regulates proteins during replication and nucleosome assembly. Studies show that the direct interaction between CAF-1 and PCNA is essential for the coupling of DNA replication and nucleosome assembly. However, how these two proteins interact and regulate replication-coupled nucleosome assembly is not clear. The major goals of Dr. Dieckman’s lab are to determine the biochemical and structural basis for binding between CAF-1 and PCNA, and how this interaction regulates CAF-1 activity and maintains genomic integrity. These studies will lead to a greater understanding of the link between DNA replication and nucleosome assembly, how the activity of CAF-1 is mediated by PCNA, and how disruptions of this regulation lead to aberrant gene expression.