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Archive for January, 2016

Liping Yu co-authors Science paper on the mechanism of flavin-dependent thymidylate synthase

Friday, January 29th, 2016

Yu 200x300Dr. Liping Yu, Adjunct Professor of Biochemistry, and collaborators co-authored a Science article entitled “An unprecedented mechanism of nucleotide methylation in organisms containing thyX.” Their findings indicate a mechanism that is very different from thymidylate biosynthesis in humans, underscoring the promise of FDTS as an antibiotic target.

The genomes of all cell-based life consist of DNA. Blocking DNA synthesis is thus lethal, and if targeted selectively, its inhibition can provide cancer and antibiotic treatments. For example, the drug methotrexate interferes with the synthesis of thymidine, the base T in DNA. Mishanina et al. found that the enzyme that carries out the last step of thymidine synthesis in several human pathogens, which cause tuberculosis, anthrax, and typhus, uses a previously undescribed mechanism. Knowing the mechanism may allow the development of specific inhibitors for this enzyme.

Dr. Miles Pufall receives NSF CAREER Award

Thursday, January 28th, 2016

_D3A8298Dr. Miles Pufall was recently awarded the NSF’s most prestigious grant, a CAREER award entitled “Allosteric regulation of transcription factor DNA binding specificity, kinetics, and cellular activity.”

Over the past several years, large-scale in vitro DNA binding experiments have extended our understanding how transcription factors select their genomic targets to regulate the proper genes. Despite this progress, our ability to predict where a transcription factor will bind in the genome, and to predict its activity once it gets there is still poor. One issue is that none of the current models account for how how cellular signals, including small molecular ligands and chemical modifications, change the sequence preference and kinetics of transcription factor DNA-binding.

Under this 5-year grant, Dr. Pufall will be using the glucocorticoid receptor as a model transcription factor to understand how small molecule ligands, synthesized by the Advanced Organic Synthesis Laboratory course at Butler University, and phosphorylation change sequence specific DNA binding in vitro and in cells. In collaboration with the lab of Dr. Maria Spies, Dr. Pufall will also explore how these cellular signals change the in vitro kinetics and stoichiometry of DNA binding using advanced single molecule techniques. How these kinetic profiles impact cellular behavior will be explored using Single Molecule Tracking in collaboration with the lab of Dr. Gordon Hager at the NIH. These studies will provide a vastly more realistic picture of how transcription factors make the critical decision of where to bind DNA and regulate genes in the complex environment of the cell.

Larry Gray wins PBI postdoctoral fellow best paper competition

Monday, January 25th, 2016

Larry GrayDr. Larry Gray, postdoctoral fellow in the Taylor Lab, received the first place $750 travel award in the recent Pappajohn Biomedical Institute (PBI) competition for best postdoctoral fellow paper of 2015. Dr. Gray’s paper entitled “Hepatic Mitochondrial Pyruvate Carrier 1 Is Required for Efficient Regulation of Gluconeogenesis and Whole-Body Glucose Homeostasis” was published in the October 6th issue of Cell Metabolism. Dr. Gray’s research demonstrates that disrupting mitochondrial pyruvate uptake in the liver attenuates high blood sugar in models of type 2 diabetes.

Schnieders Lab featured in UI Supercomputing Video

Friday, January 22nd, 2016

ScheidersMichael Schnieders’ laboratory was featured in a supercomputing video that will be used by Admissions to boost interest and engagement with undergraduate research.

Watch the video here:


Ran Chen Earns PhD Fall 2015

Friday, January 15th, 2016

Chen, RanRan Chen, a biochemistry PhD student mentored by Dr. Marc Wold, received her PhD on December 18, 2015. Ran’s thesis is entitled “Dissection of Molecular Interactions of Replication Protein A in Replication and Repair”. Ran has accepted a position as a postdoctoral fellow at Washington University in St. Louis in the lab of Dr. David H. Gutmann.

Congratulations Ran!

Biochemistry Alumna Dr. Bridget Coughlin named CEO of the Shedd Aquarium

Tuesday, January 12th, 2016

CoughlinBiochemistry  Alumna, Bridget Coughlin, a 1999 PhD with John Donelson, was recently named CEO of the Shedd Aquarium. She’ll be the fourth president in the Shedd’s history and the second female head of a Museum Campus institution when she takes over in mid-April. Dr. Coughlin, was previously the vice president of strategic partnerships and programs and adjunct curator at the Denver Science Museum. Read the full Chicago Tribune article here.

Professor Wold receives CCOM Collegiate Teaching Award

Tuesday, January 12th, 2016

_D3A3679_woldCongratulations to Professor Marc Wold for being chosen to receive a Carver College of Medicine (CCOM) Collegiate Teaching Award for 2015. Professor Wold has passionately taught tens of thousands of students at all levels for more than 25 years at the University of Iowa. He is the Director of the Biochemistry undergraduate program of ~200 majors, which requires curriculum development, student advising, and coordination with the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Within CCOM, Professor was a member of the Medical School curriculum renewal committee that rolled out the new curriculum in Fall 2014, in which he teaches in large lecture courses and small group discussions.

Among current Biochemistry primary faculty, Dr. Wold joins Drs. Peter Rubenstein, Adrian Elcock, Lori Wallrath, Dan Weeks, Todd Washington, Kris DeMali, and Pamela Geyer as recipients of the CCOM Collegiate Teaching Award. This is the 6 th consecutive year a Biochemistry faculty member has received this award.