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Archive for August, 2018

Highlights of the 9th Annual Biochemistry Retreat and 70th Anniversary

Wednesday, August 29th, 2018

Over 115 faculty, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, research staff members, undergraduates, and alumni attended the Department of Biochemistry’s 9th Annual Retreat and 70th Anniversary Celebration on Saturday, August 25, 2018, at the newly rebuilt  Hancher Auditorium.

Invited oral presentations included:

Junmin Peng, PhD., Professor, Departments of Structural Biology and Developmental Neurobiology, and Director of Center for Proteomics and Metabolomics, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
Title: Omics-based systems biology of human disease
Dr. Peng was a former graduate student in Dr. David Price’s lab, obtaining a PhD in Biochemistry in 1999.

Lois Weisman, PhD, Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology, Life Sciences Institute, University of Michigan
Title: From yeast to humans: Insights into myosin V based transport and phosphoinositide signaling
Dr. Weisman joined the University of Iowa, Department of Biochemistry in 1993.  In 2005, Dr. Weisman moved to her current position at the University of Michigan.

James Kranz, PhD, Director, Drug Product Development, Kiniksa Pharmaceuticals
Title: Biochemistry essentials and biopharmaceutical development: Everything I need to know I first learned from Dryer & Lata “Experimental Biochemistry”
Dr. Kranz received a B.S. in Biochemistry with Honors from the University of Iowa under the mentorship of Dr. Madeline Shea.

This event also included a panel discussion with current and former Department Heads:

Charles Brenner, PhD (2009 – present)
Arthur Spector, MD (1996 – 1998)
Alan Goodridge, PhD (1987 – 1996)

The retreat featured 39 poster presentations.  Winners of the poster presentations were (left to right below):


1st place:  Hannah Campbell (DeMali Lab), Force-induced apoptosis and the mechanoprotective role of PAK2
2nd place: Alicia Ortiz (DeMali Lab), Investigating Metabolic Changes in Response to Force on E-cadherin
3rd place:  Christopher Ball (Price Lab), Human Cytomegalovirus IE2 Differentially Modulates Transcription of Select Viral Transcription Units during Late Infection
4th place:  Kelli Sylvers (Davies Lab), Characterizing the interactions between ANGPTL3, ANGPLT8, and endothelial lipase

Congrats Summer 2018 Biochemistry PhD Graduates

Tuesday, August 14th, 2018

Quinn Li, a Biochemistry PhD student mentored by Dr. Ashley Spies, received a PhD on August 3, 2018, entitled, “Elucidating enzyme catalyic power and protein-ligand dynamics of human glucokinase: The role of modern allostery”. Quinn plans to travel after her PhD.

Mark Miller, a Biochemistry PhD student mentored by Dr. Adrian Elcock, received a PhD on August 3, 2018, entitled, “Use of osmotic coefficient measurements to validate and to correct the interaction thermodynamics of amino acids in molecular dynamics simulations”. Mark will be teaching Chemistry and Physics at Iowa Mennonite School in the fall.

Emily Malcolm Cushing, a Biochemistry PhD student mentor by Dr. Brandon Davies, received a PhD on August 3, 2018, entitled, “Regulation of plasma triglycerides by ANGPTL4 and GPIHBP1”. Emily is currently working as a post doc in Dr. Brandon Davies’ lab.

Dr. Ernesto Fuentes takes over as Director of Graduate Studies after Dr. Daniel Weeks 17 years of service

Wednesday, August 8th, 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dr. Daniel Weeks, having served as the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) for Biochemistry since 2001, is handing the reins of the graduate program to Dr. Ernesto Fuentes. This is a major transition for the Department. Dan is not going anywhere. He is just starting a new 4 year National Institutes of Health R01 award and is serving as the Harold A. Myers Professor in Basic Sciences and has agreed to assist Ernie in his first year as DGS.

As you know, Ernie Fuentes began as an assistant professor in the Department in 2006 after completing his PhD at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and postdoctoral fellowships at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He was promoted to Associate Professor in 2014. Dr. Fuentes has built national prominence for his work on the structure, dynamics and specificity of PDZ domain-containing proteins. A terrific colleague, Ernie has been heavily invested in the recruitment, retention, and mentorship of underrepresented minorities at the University of Iowa. He has initiated new innovative programs, served as key participant in existing programs, and joined national organizations bringing visibility to the University of Iowa. He was awarded the CCOM Collegiate Teaching Award this past academic year and was just awarded a new R21 from the National Institutes of Health.

Dan began as an assistant professor in the Department in 1987 after completing his PhD at Purdue and postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard. He was promoted to Associate Professor in 1993, Full Professor in 2001, when he assumed the DGS position. He also served as Vice Chair in 2008-2009. Dan is an internationally known nuclei acid biochemist and developmental biologist who has made multiple contributions to vertebrate oocyte development including his latest discovery and characterization of phase-separated protein aggregates in Xenopus nuclei. He has been honored by the JP Long Award for Teaching, the CCOM Collegiate Teaching Award, the CCOM Outstanding Educator Award, the Graduate College Outstanding Mentor Award, the President and Provost Award for Teaching Excellence, the CCOM Faculty Service Award and he was recently appointed the Harold A. Myers Professorship in Basic Sciences. The faculty and graduates of the Biochemistry PhD program are indebted to him for his remarkably effective 17 years of service in leading the program.

Please join us in congratulating Ernie on this appointment and thanking Dan for his terrific service to Biochemistry!