Sarah Bergeron, an MCB graduate student with Peter Rubenstein, was one of seven graduate students who participated in the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 2nd annual visit to Capitol Hill on September 21. In Washington, the young scientists advocated for increased federal support for research. The current issue of ASBMB Today features Nicole Kresge’s interview with Sarah, an article on the trip, and a YouTube video with several of Sarah’s Washington photographs.
Archive for November, 2010
Justin Rogers, who has been with Biochemistry for ten years, has been named Manager of Biochemistry Stores. Stores is a self-supporting resource for the University of Iowa research community, which provides rapid access to research supplies. Justin has recently guided Biochemistry Stores through a successful conversion to the PeopleSoft inventory management system and overseen an improvement in safety and operations as interim manager. Congratulations to Justin for his promotion and permanent position.
According to data compiled by the Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research, Biochemistry at Iowa ranked 20th in NIH funding during the federal 2009 fiscal year ($8.8 million, Oct 2008-Sep 2009) among medical school departments of biochemistry. This is a remarkable accomplishment in a year in which the Department had only 14.5 primary, tenure track faculty members for 9 months and 15.5 FTE at the end of the year. The Department ranked 8th among departments of biochemistry in public medical schools and appears to be 1st in per capita NIH funding among the Big Ten medical school biochemistry departments. With Sheila Baker’s arrival in FY10 and more arrivals expected in FY11, the Department anticipates continued growth in the base of supported research.
Why are such rankings important? In short, funding is an essential link between ideas and research discoveries. Without external funding, it is not possible for faculty to support the students, post-doctoral fellows and staff who do the work, and to purchase the equipment and supplies required for our research. Funding growth, particularly in times like these, indicates that our faculty and trainees are successfully competing for national resources. Highly correlated with research results (and easier to quantify), external funding is both a trailing and a leading indictor of the magnitude of research discoveries in academic units.
Robert Gould, a 1981 PhD with Arthur Spector, who is consulting with the Carver College of Medicine on medical curriculum review, took time on October 29 to visit the Department to lecture on “Protein Methyltransferase Inhibitors: A Novel Class of Potential Cancer Therapeutics.” Gould has had a widely varied career, which included a post-doctoral fellowship with Solomon Snyder, a 22 year career with Merck, serving as the director of novel therapeutics at the Broad Institute, and transitioning earlier this year to Epizyme, Inc, where he is President and CEO. Gould presented the origins of the Epizyme program on protein methyltransferases: selection of targets, screening of specificity, cycles of inhibitor discovery and characterization, and a path forward to molecularly targeted cancer clinical testing and treatment.
At the 7th annual Department of Biochemistry Chili Cook-off on October 29, Joe Laird from the Baker group defeated 11 other contenders in a blind taste test. Sheila’s laboratory will be the home of the chili-laden sombrero, the cook-off’s traveling trophy, for a year. The sombrero had resided in the Brenner group on the basis of Jennifer Boylston and James Geoghegan piquant concoction from the fall of 2009. Congratulations to all participants and thanks to Christine Kondratick for organization. The Department’s next major culinary/social event will be on the afternoon of December 16 at the Brenner house. Cookies anyone?