Link: University of Iowa

Genetics Society of America Spotlights Lacy Barton, PhD

July 18th, 2018 by Briana Horwath

Lacy Barton, PhD is featured in the Genetics Society of America Genes to Genomes blog in a post entitled, “Early Career Leadership Spotlight-Lacy Barton“. Barton obtained her PhD in Biochemistry at the University of Iowa in 2014 under the mentorship of Pamela Geyer, PhD. Currently, Barton is a Damon Runyon Postdoctoral Fellow at New York University, Skirball Institute of Biomolecular Medicine. She is a member of the Genetics Society of America’s Early Career Scientist Leadership Program where she focuses on science policy. Barton emphasizes the importance of foundational research and strives to bolster public support for government-sponsored funding.

Congrats Dr. Barton!

Tingting Duan Featured on the July Cover of Genetics

July 12th, 2018 by Briana Horwath

An image from an article by Tingting Duan (Graduate Student, Geyer Lab) and Pamela Geyer was featured on the July cover of Genetics. The image was taken using a confocal microscope and shows a Drosophila 7-day testis.  Mature spermatozoa form through a process called sperm individualization, wherein an actin rich individualization compex (blue spikes) separates individual sperm (gold) from a 64-spermatid syncytium. Individualization complexes are labeled with phalloidin and sperm are labeled with an antibody to polyglycylated tubulin found in the sperm tails.

Tingting’s article was also featured in Genetics and is described below:

“Drosophila Suppressor of Hairy-wing [Su(Hw)] is a multivalent transcription factor. Although best known for its gypsy retrotransposon insulator function, its functions at non-gypsy genomic binding sites are poorly understood. Duan and Geyer study the newly-discovered requirement for Su(Hw) in spermatogenesis, showing that Su(Hw) is required in testis cyst cells for sustained male fertility. Additionally, their studies build evidence that the prominent function of Su(Hw) at non-gypsy binding sites is as a transcriptional repressor, with its loss causing cell-specific changes in gene expression.”

Congrats Tingting!

Dr. Fuentes receives NIH R21

June 20th, 2018 by Maren Rogers

Dr. Ernesto Fuentes was awarded an NIH R21 grant for his project entitled “PAS domain and redox regulation of the S. aureus SrrB sensor histidine kinase.” Antibiotic resistant Staphylococcus aureus infections remain a major global health problem. S. aureus infect their host by adapting their physiology to the environment found at sites of infection. The main objective this of grant is to determine the mechanism(s) by which the SrrAB signaling pathway regulates the ability of S. aureus to adapt to the host environment and infect humans. Congrats, Dr. Fuentes!

Alumna Dr. Rainbo Hultman will join INI and the Dept of Molecular Physiology & Biophysics in January 2019

June 18th, 2018 by Maren Rogers

Biochemistry Alumna, Dr. Rainbo Hultman (2002 BS with Dr. Madeline Shea), will begin her independent career as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Molecular Physiology & Biophysics  and the Iowa Neurosciences Institute and at the University of Iowa in January 2019.

After completing her BS in Biochemistry from the University of Iowa in 2002, Dr. Hultman did her graduate training at Duke University where she received her PhD in Biochemistry in 2011. From 2011-2012, she was a postdoctoral associate with Dr. Herb Covington in the Department of Psychology & Neuroscience at Duke. Since 2012 she has been a postdoctoral associate in the Laboratory of Psychiatric Neuroengineering with Dr. Kafui Dzirasa. Dr. Hultman’s graduate and postdoctoral studies have been extremely productive, resulting in numerous publications in highly recognized journals. Since 2002, she has published nine peer-reviewed papers (four are first author) in top journals such as Neuron, Nature Communications, Molecular Cell Neuroscience, and the Journal of Neuroscience. Her most recent first author paper was published in March in Cell.

A major focus of Dr. Hultman’s research has been focused on understanding, at the molecular and cellular level, how neural oscillations across brain regions contribute to complex emotional states related to stress susceptibility. In particular, she identified that activity within the prefrontal cortex–amygdala circuit (PFC reactivity 2-7 Hz) provides a measure prior to stress exposure that correlates with resilient behavior after undergoing chronic social defeat stress. This discovery demonstrated that there are measurable neural circuit properties unique to a pre-stress vulnerable brain. She has also used designer receptors exclusively activated by designer drugs (DREADDs) to identify ways in which the specific timing relationships of LFP oscillations between the prefrontal cortex, amygdala, and ventral tegmental area coordinate dynamically post-stress to result in the stress-susceptible phenotype. Through this study, she was able to exactly recapitulate endogenous resilient neural circuit activity in the susceptible animals. As a faculty member, Dr. Hultman plans to develop a research program aimed at identifying molecular drivers of specific depression-related neural circuit activities with the goal of paving a way for precision medicine for depressive disorders. This project has great potential to generate highly significant publications and, importantly, to translate into the development of effective pharmacological treatments for depressive disorders.

Alumna Dr. Liskin Swint-Kruse named Interim Chair of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at KUMC

June 18th, 2018 by Maren Rogers

Biochemistry Alumna, (1995 PhD with Dr. Andrew Robertson), has been named  the Interim Chair of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Kansas Medical Center (KUMC). Dr. Swint-Kruse was recruited to the University of Kansas School of Medicine in 2004 after completing postdoctoral fellowships at Rice University and the University of Houston.  Since arriving at KUMC, she has developed a successful and well-funded research program that focuses on ways to improve genomics-based diagnoses for personalized medicine.   These studies of protein structure-function also have applications in protein engineering for biotechnology and in transcriptional control of metabolism in pathogenic bacteria. On a national level, Dr. Swint-Kruse has been very active in committees of the Biophysical Society and is also Secretary of the Gibbs Society of Biological Thermodynamics.

Biochemistry major Amy Evans wins a Fight for Sight 2018 Summer Student Fellowship

June 7th, 2018 by Judy Means

Amy is an Honors student working towards a Biochemistry and Philosophy double major with a minor in Theater Arts. She conducts research in the Baker Lab where she is learning a suite of molecular biology approaches to investigate the subcellular trafficking of HCN1, an ion channel important for regulating neuronal activity.

Fight for Sight has been working to support and inspire vision research by providing funds to promising scientists early in their careers for over 70 years. The Summer Student Fellowships is a competitive award given to junior students so that they can engage in 2-3 months of full time research. Amy will use this time to investigate how HCN1 moves from its site of synthesis out to the cell membrane where it can carry feedback currents to regulate neuronal circuits throughout the cerebellum, cortex, and eye. Amy will also be using behavioral studies to probe how loss of HCN1 affects vision under various lighting environments.

Spring 2018 Wallrath Lab Accomplishments

May 25th, 2018 by Briana Horwath

Lori Wallrath (Professor and Vice Chair, Biochemistry) was featured in the Spring 2018 addition of Quest, a Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) new publication, where she praised MDA’s “umbrella” structure of supporting dozens of neuromuscular diseases so that researchers and clinician’s benefit from the “cross-fertilization” of ideas. The article can be found at: http://www.mda.org/quest.

Recent research from the Wallrath Lab was published in Aging Cell. This article describes a new model and potential therapy for cardiac disease associated with several types of muscular dystrophy that are caused by mutations in the human LMNA gene. This project was in collaboration with Dr. Girish Melkani (San Diego State University). https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/acel.12747

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!