Link: University of Iowa

Maria Spies lab publishes in eLife Sciences

August 22nd, 2016 by Maren Rogers

Dr. Maria Spies laboratory in collaboration with Dr. Ashley Spies laboratory recently published an eLife Sciences article entitled “Small-molecule inhibitors identify the RAD52-ssDNA interaction as critical for recovery from replication stress and for survival of BRCA2 deficient cells.” In this study, Hengel et al. developed a high throughput biophysical method to search through a large collection of small molecules to find those that prevent RAD52 from binding to DNA and then used the information about how the small molecules bind to RAD52 to preform further computational screening. This identified a natural compound that competes with single-stranded DNA to bind to RAD52. The activity of this molecule was then validated using biophysical methods. The methods used by Hengel et al. provide the foundation for further searches for new anticancer drugs. Future studies that employ the small molecule drugs identified so far will also help to determine exactly how RAD52 works in human cells and how it helps cancer cells to survive.

This article was Ms. Sarah Hengel’s first, first author paper. Congratulations, Sarah!

Baker awarded R21 from National Eye Institute

August 22nd, 2016 by Maren Rogers

Drs. Sheila Baker and Amy Lee (Molecular Physiology & Biophysics) in collaboration with Arlene Drack (Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences) have been awarded an R21 grant from the National Eye Institute entitled “Rescue of photoreceptor synapses”.  This multidisciplinary team will explore the regenerative capacity of photoreceptor synapses and develop a method for making novel retinal gene therapy vectors in an effort to create new treatments for blindness.

Hayes and Weeks Featured on the June Cover of Biology Open

August 18th, 2016 by Briana Horwath

JEBcover_Front

An image from an article by Michael Hayes (MSTP, MCB) and Dan Weeks was featured on the June cover of Open Biology. The article was entitled, “Amyloids assemble as part of recognizable structures during oogenesis in Xenopus”. Amyloids (ordered protein aggregates) are traditionally associated with pathologic conditions like Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s diseases. However, there is a growing appreciation that amyloids assemble and disassemble as part of many  biologically important activities.  Hayes  and Weeks found that amyloids were easily detectable in the cytosol and nucleus of Xenopus oocytes. Nuclear amyloids were part of structures involved in transcription by all three RNA polymerases and in RNA processing; while cytosolic amyloids were observed with in yolk platelets and other yet to be identified structures. The cover image shows the co-localization of amyloid (green), DNA(Blue) and the nucleolar protein nucleolin (red).

Congrats Mike and Dan!

In memory of Dr. Rex Montgomery

August 11th, 2016 by Maren Rogers

Montgomery 200x300On Sunday, July 31, 2016, Professor Emeritus Rex Montgomery passed away peacefully at Oaknoll as he neared his 93rd birthday. He was with his children.

Rex was the longest serving member of the department of Biochemistry, a great leader at the University of Iowa, an outstanding carbohydrate biochemist, a devoted father and grandfather, and a wonderful human being.

Rex was a 1946 PhD from the University of Birmingham. After a short stint at the University of Minnesota, Dr. Montgomery began as an assistant professor at the University of Iowa in 1955, and became a full professor in 1963. Dr. Montgomery also served as associate dean for academic affairs in the Carver College of Medicine from 1974-1995, during which time he also held the positions of associate dean of research in the CCOM and interim vice president of research for the University.

His research and scholarly efforts had a major global impact. Two of his textbooks, described as influential and strikingly important, transformed biochemistry education. Dr. Montgomery is admired and appreciated for his remarkable impact as a teacher and mentor.

In 1974, Dr. Montgomery established a new physician assistant program at the University of Iowa, and served as its director until 1976. In the years since, graduates of this program have gone on to help myriad patients throughout the state, nation and the world.

Dr. Montgomery transitioned to emeritus status in 2006 and continued to make an impact in the department and in the field of biochemistry. In addition to his scientific contributions, he and his friends, students and colleagues supported the Department of Biochemistry and many other units on campus with generous financial support.

He will be greatly missed.

Brenner lab treats type 2 diabetic neuropathy with nicotinamide riboside

May 31st, 2016 by Maren Rogers

In the new study, published May 27 in the journal Scientific Reports, Dr. Charles Brenner, together with Randy Kardon, MD, PhD, and Mark Yorek, PhD, who are jointly affiliated with University of Iowa Health Care and the Iowa City VA Health System, and Samuel Trammell (2016 PhD, Brenner laboratory), tested the effects of NR supplementation on mouse models of prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. Read more about their study here: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-05/uoih-vnr052616.php

Mohammed Ismail awarded the 2016 Montgomery Biochemistry Scholar’s Prize

May 16th, 2016 by Maren Rogers

Mohammed Ismail, an undergraduate major in the Maria Spies laboratory, has been awarded the 2016 Montgomery Biochemistry Scholar’s Prize Award for his outstanding research accomplishments and excellent presentation at the Lata Symposium.Mohammed plans to apply to medical school this summer.

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 undergraduates receive 2016 Rex Montgomery Scholarship Awards

May 5th, 2016 by Maren Rogers

The 2016 Rex Montgomery Scholarships were award to:

Rex Montgomery Scholarships recognize undergraduate students for their outstanding academic record and commitment to research. This scholarship was established by 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.

Congratulations – Emily, Laura and Angela!

Four Biochemistry Undergraduates featured at the LSEI Project Engage Showcase

May 5th, 2016 by Maren Rogers

The Latham Science Engagement Initiative (LSEI) 1st Annual Project Engage Showcase held on Saturday, April 30, 2016, at the Iowa Memorial Union, featured four Biochemistry undergraduate majors (out of 12 total Latham Fellows): Sarah Gardner (Baker Laboratory), Cara Larson (Wallrath Laboratory), Nicholas McCarty (Abel Laboratory), and Maria Nunez Hernandez (Shea Laboratory). The students presented their Scientific Outreach Projects.

The LSEI and Fellowship Program was established through the generous donation of Robert J. and Sue B. Latham, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The program enhances the research opportunities for selected undergraduate students. For more information about LSEI and to apply to the fellowship program, visit: latham.uiowa.edu

Dr. Subramanian Ramaswamy receives 2015 UIRF Inventors Award

May 4th, 2016 by Maren Rogers

Dr. Subramanian Ramaswamy, Adjunct Professor of Biochemistry, has received a 2015 University of Iowa Research Foundation Inventors Award. In 2015, the UI Research Foundation and Dr. Subramanian, secured an option agreement with Spyryx Biosciences, Inc. for Dr. Subramanian’s technology“PLUNC-A Secreted Protein of Respiratory Epithelia and Salivary Glands With Surfactant Activity.”

12th Annual Gene F. Lata Undergraduate Research Symposium

April 28th, 2016 by Judy Means

Seven students presented at this year’s Undergraduate Honors Program. This year marks the twelfth year for the Gene F. Lata Undergraduate Research Symposium. Please join Professor Marc Wold, Director of Undergraduate Studies and Honors Advisor, in congratulating these 2016 graduates and their research mentors for a job well done.

Group Picture

(left to right): Jiadi An, Hannah Miller, Mohammed Ismail, Alexander Wolff, Hang Yin, Devon Moose, Jianlan Ren
  • Jiadi An
    Mentor: Adrian Elcock
    Osmotic Pressure Simulations Facilitate Protein Force Field Parameterization: GROMOS 54A7
  • Mohammed A. Ismail
    Mentor: Maria Spies
    Phosphorylation by C-Abl Kinase on RAD51
  • Hannah K. Miller
    Mentor: Todd Washington
    Polymerase Interactions with PCNA
  • Devon L. Moose
    Mentor: Bridget Lear
    Developmental vs. Adult Requirements of the Narrow Abdomen Ion Channel Expression in Drosophila
  • Jianlan Ren
    Mentor: Adrian Elcock
    Osmotic Pressure Simulations Facilitate Protein Force Field Parameterization: CHARMM36
  • Alexander J. Wolff
    Mentor: Daniel Weeks
    Designing and Building a Probe to Examine Endogenous Amyloids in Early Xenopus Development
  • Hang Yin
    Mentor: Adrian Elcock
    Improvement of Sugar-Sugar Interactions in Molecular Dynamics Simulations Using Osmotic Pressure Measurements

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. Wolff (Weeks lab) and the H.G. Khorana Scholar Award was presented to Hannah K. Miller (Washington lab), recognizing their exceptional understanding of biochemistry and its value to society.

Congratulations to everyone named above and all of our 2016 graduates!