Link: University of Iowa

Michael Hayes receives the 2019 Marion Dave Francis Innovator Award

June 13th, 2019 by Johnson, Abby T (UI Health Care)

Dr. Michael Hayes, a 2019 MD and Cell and Molecular Biology PhD with Dr. Daniel Weeks, received the 2019 Marion Dave Francis Innovator Award which recognizes a PhD student whose research has demonstrated their singular personal initiative, creativity, and resulting  continuous discovery, as exemplified by Dr. Hayes.

Dr. Michael Hayes’ research examined the formation of non-pathological protein aggregates essential for the formation of non-membrane bound organelles. He initiated efforts to develop assays that will allow us to better understand conditions that promote the normal assembly of essential aggregates and further our understanding of what goes wrong when toxic aggregates are formed in diseases like Alzheimer’s or Huntington’s. His thesis work resulted in two first author publications, a Biology Open article published in 2016 and a second publication in eLife in 2018. Michael is currently a surgical resident at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. Congratulations, Dr. Hayes!

 

Lalita Oonthonpan Publishes in The Journal of Clinical Investigation Insight

June 10th, 2019 by Johnson, Abby T (UI Health Care)

Lalita Oonthonpan, a Biochemistry graduate student in Dr. Eric Taylor’s Lab, is an author on a paper published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation Insight. The paper entitled, “Two human patient mitochondrial pyruvate carrier mutations reveal distinct molecular mechanisms of dysfunction” describes research on the Mitochondrial Pyruvate Carrier (MPC).

Mitochondrial pyruvate uptake is an important cellular process unifying cytosolic and mitochondrial sugar metabolism. This manuscript helps explain how human mutations in the protein complex that transports pyruvate into mitochondria lead to disease. Using patient-derived cells and a novel, heterologous gene complementation system with the highly metabolically active mouse C2C12 myoblast cell line, Oonthonpan et al. and Taylor found that the MPC1 C289T mutation results in destabilization and loss of the MPC complex whereas the MPC1 T236A mutation results in an inactive MPC complex. These findings could inform future treatment options for rare pyruvate transporter mutations and other in-born errors of metabolism.

Congratulations!

 

Congrats Spring 2019 Biochemistry PhD Graduates

May 29th, 2019 by Johnson, Abby T (UI Health Care)

Tyler Weaver, a Biochemistry PhD student mentored by Dr. Catherine Musselman, received a PhD on May 10, 2019. His thesis was entitled, “Regulation of polycomb repressive complexes by histone reader domains.” Tyler is currently a Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Bret Freudenthal’s lab.

 

Jacob Litman, a Biochemistry PhD student mentored by Dr. Michael Schnieders, received a PhD on May 10, 2019. His thesis was entitled, “Advanced optimization and sampling techniques for biomolecules using a polarizable force field.” Jacob is currently a Postdoctoral Researcher for the Biomedical Engineering Department in Dr. Michael Schnieders lab.

 

Young Joo Sun, a Biochemistry PhD student mentored by Dr. Ernesto Fuentes, received a PhD on May 10, 2019. His thesis was entitled, “Engineering PDZ Domain Specificity.” Young Joo is currently in Vinit Mahajan’s lab at Stanford University.

 

Congrats Tyler, Jacob, and Young Joo!

Dr. Bryan Allen Named Recipient of the J.W. Osborne Award

May 29th, 2019 by Johnson, Abby T (UI Health Care)

Dr. Bryan Allen ,an alumni MSTP student in Dr. Daniel Weeks lab, was selected as the recipient of the J.W. Osborne Award presented by the Radiation Research Society. Dr. Bryan Allen is currently an associate professor and physician scientist in the Department of Radiation Oncology at the University of  Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. The J.W. Osborne Award honors an RRS member who has made a critical contribution to the understanding of normal tissue radiation responses.

Congratulations Dr. Allen!

Guowei Qi named 2019 Goldwater Scholar

May 10th, 2019 by Briana Horwath

Congratulations to Guowei Qi, a sophomore Biochemistry student, who has been named a 2019 Goldwater Scholar. Guowei is currently a member of Dr. Michael Schnieders’ Lab researching protein side optimization. Guowei is a member of the University of Iowa Honors Program, the Presidential Scholar community, UI Student Government, and the UI Environmental Coalition. He has also recently served on the 2018 CLAS Dean Search Committee and is an Iowa Center for Research by Undergraduates (ICRU) Ambassador.

The Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program was established by Congress in 1986 to honor Senator Barry Goldwater. The purpose of the Foundation is to provide a continuing source of highly qualified scientists, mathematicians, and engineers by awarding scholarships to college students who intend to pursue research careers in these fields. Four-year institutions in the United States are eligible to submit up to four nominations. This year, the Goldwater Committee received 1223 nominations.

A full list of the 2019 Goldwater Scholars can be found here: https://goldwater.scholarsapply.org/2019-goldwater-scholars-by-institution-state/

Samantha Mackin and Ian McElree awarded Montgomery Scholar’s Prizes

May 2nd, 2019 by Maren Rogers

Samantha Makin, an undergraduate major in the Dr. Kris DeMali’s laboratory,  and Ian McElree, an undergraduate in Dr. Chun-Fang Wu’s laboratory in the Department of Biology, have been awarded 2019 Montgomery Biochemistry Scholar’s Prizes for their outstanding research accomplishments and excellent presentations 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.

 

Three Undergraduate Students Awarded 2019 Rex Montgomery Scholarships

May 2nd, 2019 by Maren Rogers

The 2019 Rex Montgomery Scholarships were award to:

  • Kinsey Gudenkauf, Dr. Scott Shaw’s laboratory;
  • Jade Miller, Dr. Maria Spies’ laboratory; and
  • Francesca Spencer, Dr. Daniel Weeks’ laboratory

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.

Dr. Brandon Davies Named as Junior Associate Editor of the Journal of Lipid Research

May 2nd, 2019 by Briana Horwath

Dr. Brandon Davies was one of four junior faculty members working anywhere in the world to be named Junior Associate Editors of the Journal of Lipid Research. Dr. Davies is part of the first cohort that were nominated by the journal’s associate editors. Dr. Davies was chosen on the basis of his outstanding contributions to the field and in anticipation of his future impact in lipid biochemistry and physiology. An assistant professor of Biochemistry since 2012, Dr. Davies was also the recipient of the Journal of Lipids Research Junior Investigator Award in 2017 and is currently serving on the Deuel Conference Board.

Congratulations to Dr. Davies!

15th Annual Gene F. Lata Undergraduate Research Symposium

April 24th, 2019 by Judy Means

Eleven students presented at this year’s Undergraduate Honors Program.  This year marks the fifteenth year for the Gene F. Lata Undergraduate Research Symposium. Please join Professor Marc Wold, Director of Undergraduate Studies and Honors Advisor, in congratulating these 2019 graduates and their research mentors for a job well done.

(front row – left to right): Ariel Kopel, Samantha Mackin, Ashley Segura-Roman, Irini Petros (back row – left to right): Samuel Cole Kitzman, Derek Metzger, Andrew Henry, Lucas Maakestad, Sophia Vogeler

(left) Ian McElree, (right) Jesse Cochran

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jesse Cochran
Mentor: E. Dale Abel
Sex Differences in the Response of C57BL/6 Mice to Ketogenic Diets

Andrew Henry
Mentor: Andrew Norris
Influence of CFTR on Linoleic Acid Metabolism

Samuel (Cole) Kitzman
Mentor: Pamela Geyer
Modeling a premature aging syndrome by a mutant form of Barrier-to-Autointegration Factor (BAF) in Drosophila

Ariel Kopel
Mentor: Sheila Baker
The Role of Synaptic Calcium Channels in Cone Photoreceptors

Lucas Maakestad
Mentor: Todd Washington
Overexpression and Purification of the Fork-Remodeling Enzyme Rad5

Samantha Mackin
Mentor: Kris DeMali
Identifying Mechanisms Coupling Cell Metabolism to Force Transmission

Ian McElree
Mentor: Chun-Fang Wu
Exploration of the rosA Oscillatory ERG Phenotype in Drosophila

Derek Metzger
Mentor: Brandon Davies
Functional Analysis of Human ANGPTL3 Mutants

Irini Petros
Mentor: Dan Weeks
Protein Aggregates in Different Subnucleolar Compartments in Xenopus laevis

Ashley Segura-Roman
Mentor: Brandon Davies
Endothelial Lipase Regulation by ANGPTL3

Sophia Vogeler
Mentor: Charles Brenner
Evaluating the Efficacy of NAD Precursors in Treating Hyperphagia

The symposium also included the presentation of two undergraduate awards (see pictures below), made possible by a gift from Alap Subramanian. The H.G. Wittmann Scholar Award was presented to Derek Metzger (Davies lab) and the H.G. Khorana Scholar Award was presented to Sophia Vogeler (Brenner lab), recognizing their exceptional understanding of biochemistry and its value to society.

 

Congratulations to everyone named above and all of our 2019 graduates!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Article by Colleen Caldwell, Marc Wold, and Maria Spies featured on the cover of Nature Structural & Molecular Biology

April 5th, 2019 by Briana Horwath

Graduate student Colleen Caldwell (M. Spies Lab) was the co-first author on a paper published in, and featured on, the cover of the February 2019 issue of Nature Structural & Molecular Biology (volume 26, issue 2, page 129). The article titled, “Dynamics and selective remodeling of the DNA-binding domains of RPA” was the product of a collaboration between the laboratories of Professors Marc Wold, Maria Spies, and Edwin Antony (Marquette University). It describes biochemistry and single-molecule studies that characterized the conformational dynamics of individual domains of Replication Protein A (RPA). RPA binds to single-stranded DNA and is essential for the replication and repair of DNA. This paper shows that individual domains of RPA rapidly bind and dissociate from DNA and that these dynamic interactions are modulated when RPA interacts with partner proteins. These studies suggest that remodeling of the RPA complex probably directs the proper processing of different single-stranded DNA intermediates in the cell.

Congrats Colleen, Dr. Wold, and Dr. Spies!