Link: University of Iowa

John Pryor wins the Clarence Berg Award

March 16th, 2015 by Maren Rogers

John Pryor, a 2012 PhD with Dr. Todd Washington, has been named the winner of the 2014 Clarence Berg Award. The Berg Award is given biennially in honor of our former Professor Clarence P. Berg to the graduate student who demonstrates “scholarship, integrity, cooperativeness, consideration and a willingness to help others.” Dr. Pryor was an American Heart Association-funded graduate student who focused on the role of replication accessory factors in promoting translesion DNA synthesis.

Previously, John was named the winner of the 2013 Subramanian Award for best PhD thesis in the Department of Biochemistry.  John is a Lineberger Cancer Center Postdoctoral Fellow in Dale Ramsden’s laboratory at the University of North Carolina. His postdoctoral work will focus on the mechanism of DNA double-strand break repair by the non-homologous end-joining pathway. Congratulations to Dr. Pryor!

Karina Kruth wins the Subramanian Thesis Award

March 16th, 2015 by Maren Rogers

Karina Kruth, who completed her PhD with Dr. Peter Rubenstein, has been named the 2014 Subramanian Award for best PhD thesis in the Department of Biochemistry. Karina is a postdoctoral scholar in Dr. Miles Pufall’s laboratory at the University of Iowa, Department of Biochemistry. Her postdoctoral work will focus on the glucocorticoid receptor structure and resistance to glucocorticoid treatment in Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.

Karina is the 21st 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. Kruth.

Brandon Davies awarded a 2015 Carver Trust Grant

March 13th, 2015 by Maren Rogers

Davies 200x300Dr. Brandon Davies has been awarded a 2015 Carver Trust Medical Research Initiative Grant for his project entitled “Understanding the Roles of ANGPATL in Triglyceride Metabolism.”

Three members of the angiopoietin-like (ANGPTL) family–ANGPTL3, ANGPTL4, and ANGPTL8, are important regulators of triglyceride metabolism. Each is thought the influence the activity of lipoprotein lipase, the enzyme responsible for processing circulating triglycerides. Dr. Davies’ goal is to understand how ANGPTL3, ANGPTL4, and ANGPTL8 interact with each other and with LPL.

Congratulations, Dr. Davies!

Eric Taylor receives new R01

March 13th, 2015 by Maren Rogers

taylor_D3A3324Dr. Eric Taylor was recently awarded a new NIH R01 entitled “Regulation of Hepatic Gluconeogenesis by the Mitochondrial Pyruvate Carrier.” Dr. Taylor has been awarded $250,000/year for five years.

High blood sugar is a defining feature of Type 2 Diabetes that is responsible for many of its complications. A major cause of high blood sugar is excessive glucose production by the liver. One of the liver’s most preferred building blocks for glucose is a molecule called pyruvate. To build glucose, pyruvate must be transported to the inside of mitochondria, the energy-producing hub of the cell, by a specialized portal named the Mitochondrial Pyruvate Carrier (MPC). Thus, the MPC is potentially a critical point in metabolism for controlling glucose production. Dr. Taylor’s goals are to determine the molecular mechanisms regulating MPC function and whether inhibiting MPC activity will therapeutically decrease elevated blood sugar levels in Type 2 Diabetes

Congratulations, Dr. Taylor!

Grant Young featured on IowaNow’s “Student Experience”

March 13th, 2015 by Maren Rogers

Grant Young, an undergraduate major in the Wallrath laboratory,was recently interviewed for the IowaNow’s “Student Experience,” where they discuss Grant’s achievements  inside and outside the laboratory. Dr. Wallrath states, “He takes his academic life very seriously, he thinks hard about his career goals and his future, and he also really understands the science behind what he’s doing in the laboratory, and that’s a real key to bringing that picture complete.” She continues, “Being able to complete projects to the point of where they’re published is a huge thing to be able to do as an undergraduate.”

Biochemistry Students Invited to Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society

March 11th, 2015 by Judy Means

Congratulations to the following Biochemistry students, who were invited to accept membership in the Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society!

Alexander Hjelmaas, Nicoll Manhica, Sarah Mayer, Sarah Misselhorn, Samuel Mueting, Michael Turek, Xin Xu, and Grant Young.

The Phi Beta Kappa Society is the oldest and most prestigious undergraduate honors organization in the United States.



Cara Larson Wins “3 Minute Thesis” Award

February 26th, 2015 by Judy Means

Cara Larson, undergraduate Biochemistry major, won a competitive “3 Minute Thesis” award. Cara explained her research on the genetic basis of an infant death syndrome to a broad audience. Cara is an ICRU fellow working on this project in the laboratory of Lori Wallrath. You can check out Cara’s presentation and those of other undergraduates at:

Dr. Musselman receives NSF CAREER Award

February 25th, 2015 by Maren Rogers

Musselman 200x300Dr. Catherine Musselman has received a National Science Foundation CAREER Award for her project entitled “CAREER: The structural basis of the multivalent readout of histone PTMs and PTM/interaction mediated modulation of nucleosome dynamics.” In this study Dr. Musselman will be investigating molecular mechanisms underlying the readout of patterns of histone PTMs. Utilizing state-of-the-art NMR spectroscopy approaches she will dissect the details of how proteins decipher these patterns ultimately leading to regulation of chromatin structure. The results from these studies will provide significant insight into specific and fundamental mechanisms by which the eukaryotic genome is regulated.

In addition to the research objectives of this award, there are significant educational outreach goals. Dr. Musselman has established a collaboration with the Workplace Learning Connection run out of Kirkwood Community College to provide high school students from around the region the opportunity to perform internships in her laboratory. Students will gain 45-90 hours of laboratory experience for which they will receive academic credit. This experience will provide students with a tangible research experience in the basic sciences, allowing them to explore their interest and opportunities to pursue an education and career in a STEM related field.

Wonderful News, a note from Dr. Brenner

February 19th, 2015 by Maren Rogers

Dear members of the Biochemistry Community,

In this fall’s newsletter, I shared our goal of creating a endowment that will support the cost of Biochemistry first year graduate student packages. Our initial goal was $3 million and I told you that we were nearing the first $1 million. Now, I would like to tell you about two of the leadership gifts that we’ve received toward endowing these first year graduate student packages.

The first $750,000 toward our $3 million goal came from unrestricted gifts in Biochemistry’s UI Foundation accounts, from the Elizabeth K. Smith Fund, which was given in memory of Dr. Smith, a 1943 PhD in Biochemistry, and from the gift of Dr. Lois Bigger Gehring in support of graduate education. Lois, who received her master’s at Iowa, was very excited to be part of this initiative and increased her gift in the hopes that other friends of the Department would respond. Notably, income from the first $750,000 toward graduate education will support one first year package beginning this August, namely the Smith-Gehring Fellowship.

In addition, the Department is very excited to thank Dr. Joseph Walder for making a gift in support of Biochemistry graduate education for the next three years. Joe started his independent research career as faculty member in the Department in 1978 and launched Integrated DNA Technologies in 1987. Joe’s gift will support two IDT Graduate Fellows beginning this August.

Just as Biochemistry first year graduate students do, the Smith-Gehring and IDT Fellows will perform research rotations with 3 or 4 members of the Biochemistry faculty while taking the first year curriculum and learning the graduate ropes. In these times of tight Departmental budgets, the support of friends of Iowa Biochemistry is invaluable.

Your support can make possible a 4th or 5th first year graduate student package and can help permanently endow support for graduate education in Biochemistry at Iowa.

Let’s thank the hundreds of people who have contributed to Biochemistry unrestricted funds at the UI Foundation, the supporters of the Elizabeth K. Smith Fund, Lois Bigger Gehring, and Joe Walder for their remarkable generosity.

If you or someone you know can join Lois and Joe in support of Biochemistry graduate education, please do not hesitate to give me a call.

Charlie Brenner

Brenner Laboratory Publishes in PLoS Biology

February 6th, 2015 by Maren Rogers

The Brenner Lab was recently recognized in an IowaNow article entitled, “UI researchers find simple life forms communicate benefits of calorie restriction,” for their study, “Calorie Restriction-Mediated Replicative Lifespan Extension in Yeast is Non-Cell Autonomous,” recently published in PLoS Biology. Brenner Lab Postdoc Szu-Chieh (Christy) Mei was first author of this work. The study revealed evidence that baker’s yeast cells not only extend their own lifespan in response to caloric restriction but also communicate with other cells to share the benefit of caloric restriction.