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Archive for the ‘awards’ Category

Nicholas McCarty-Fulbright-Imperial College London Award

Tuesday, March 28th, 2017

Congratulations to Nicholas McCarty, who received the 2017-2018 Fulbright-Imperial College London Award. Imperial College London, located in West Kensington, offers one award annually for a student to pursue a one-year Master’s degree in science, engineering, or medical subject. Nicholas will spend his Fulbright year completing a Master of Research (MRes) in Systems and Synthetic Biology, located in the Department of Bioengineering at Imperial. Nicholas has worked in the Abel laboratory for the last four years, primarily studying the role of insulin signaling in regulating the cardiovascular system, and will graduate from the University of Iowa with honors this spring. Nicholas plans to pursue a PhD in Metabolic or Chemical Engineering in the United States upon his return, and develop new ways to produce cost-effective, targeted treatments for cardiovascular disease.

FOEDRC Retreat Poster Winners: Po Hien Ear and Adam Rauckhorst

Thursday, January 5th, 2017

Congratulations to Postdoctoral Fellows Po Hien Ear (Brenner Lab) and Adam Rauckhorst (Taylor Lab) who were two of the three poster winners at the 2016 FOE Diabetes Research Center Retreat held on December 10, 2016, for their posters entitled “Nicotinamide riboside promotes maternal and neonatal health benefits” and “Novel mechanisms regulating mitochondrial glutamine metabolism,” respectively.

L to R: Adam Rauckhorst, Po Hien Ear, Yanhui Zhang, E. Dale Abel

Marc Wold awarded the 2016 JP Long Teaching Award

Thursday, January 5th, 2017

Professor Marc Wold has been awarded the 2016 John P. Long Teaching Award in the Basic Sciences, which recognizes outstanding career-level teaching contributions by the basic science faculty. Following in the footsteps of Arthur Spector (1999), Peter Rubenstein (2001), Madeline Shea (2009) and Daniel Weeks (2011) this was the fifth time a biochemist has claimed this honor in the history of the award.

Professor Wold has taught tens of thousands of students at all educational levels over the past 25 years at the University of Iowa. His approachability, patience, and thoroughness make him a sought after teacher. He is an internationally recognized leader in the field of DNA replication and repair, allowing him to integrate cutting edge molecular techniques and research findings into his instruction materials. In addition, he has served as mentor and academic advisor to thousands of students from multiple educational levels. These students have relied on his expert advice to shape their academic programming, thereby impacting their education, training and professional growth.

Lacy Barton wins 2016 Clarence Berg Award

Thursday, November 17th, 2016

Lacy Barton, a 2014 PhD with Dr. Pamela Geyer, has been named the winner of the 2016 Clarence Berg Award. The Berg Award is given biennially in honor of our former Professor Clarence P. Berg to the graduate student who demonstrates “scholarship, integrity, cooperativeness, consideration and a willingness to help others.”

Lacy was also recently named the winner of the 2015 Subramanian Award for best PhD thesis in the Department of Biochemistry.  Lacy is currently a postdoctoral fellow in Ruth Lehmann’s laboratory at New York University School of Medicine in New York, NY. She was awarded a Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation Fellowship for her project entitled “Mechanisms of directed cell migration in a complex in vivo environment.” Damon Runyon fellowships are among the most recognized postdoctoral awards and a high accolade for an early career scientist. Congratulations, Dr. Barton!

Tingting Duan won second place in the Art in Science Competition at the Iowa Microscopy Society

Thursday, October 20th, 2016


Tingting Duan, a Biochemistry PhD student mentored by Dr. Pamela Geyer, was awarded second place in the Art in Science Competition by voters attending the Iowa Microscopy Society Fall Symposium. Her image of a tetis carpet “[drew] out beauty on an extremely small scale.” The goal of the Iowa Art in Science Contest is to recognize the combination of outstanding scientific discovery and artistic appeal inherent to microscopy research.

Davies and Taylor awarded FOEDRC Pilot & Feasibility Grants

Monday, October 3rd, 2016

Drs. Brandon Davies and Eric Taylor have been awarded FOEDRC Pilot & Feasiblity Grants of $50,000 to support their research proposal, with the possibility for a second year of funding, for a total of $100,000 over a two-year period.

Dr. Davies’s proposal entitled “Skeletal Muscle Programming of Capillary Endothelial Cells,” aims to to identify how skeletal muscle cells program adjacent endothelial cells to deliver triglyceride-derived fatty acids to muscle.

Dr. Taylor’s proposal entitled “A novel regulator of glutamine-driven gluconeogenesis,” aims to determine the biochemical activity of a recently discovered  poorly annotated protein that is important for using the amino acid glutamine for gluconeogenesis, the mechanisms underlying its role in glutamine-driven gluconeogenesis, and how its function contributes to hyperglycemia during type-2 diabetes.

Grant Young Receives Ponsetti Award for Research in Orthopedics

Friday, September 16th, 2016
Grant Young, former Biochemistry undergraduate major, received “The Ponsetti Award for Research in Orthopedics” for his summer research as a U of Iowa medical student.

2016 IDT & Smith-Gehring Graduate Fellowships

Thursday, August 25th, 2016

The IDT and Smith-Gehring Graduate Fellowships are awarded to three of the most meritorious second year Biochemistry graduate students based on academic and research achievements.

The 2016 IDT Graduate Fellows are Colleen Caldwell and Timothy Collingsworth:

Caldwell, Colleen

Ms. Colleen Caldwell performed extremely well in classes during her first year in the graduate program.  Work she did during her rotations is likely to earn her a contribution to research papers from two labs. Ms. Caldwell graduated cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and a minor in Neuroscience from the Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, MN in spring 2015. She had a brilliant undergraduate career and her application to our graduate program definitely stood out. In the laboratory of Dr. Maria Spies, she is working on a project focused on deciphering the molecular mechanism of human DNA helicase RTEL1 (regulator of telomere length). Defects in the RTEL1 helicase are associated with a broad spectrum of human diseases ranging from cancer to Crohn’s. Ms. Caldwell plans to take a full advantage of Dr. Spies’ lab expertise in DNA repair helicases and custom built single-molecule equipment to decipher the RTEL1 mechanism and to gain insights into its physiological roles outside of the telomeres. In collaboration with the X-ray crystallography core and Dr. M. Todd Washington’s lab, Ms. Caldwell will also add a structural biology component to her work on RTEL1 in definition of the association between RTEL1 helicase and the PCNA processivity clamp that integrates RTEL1 activity into cellular processes that ensure accurate replication.

Collingsworth, Tim

Mr. Timothy Collingsworth also had an exemplary first year in the graduate program. In addition, Mr. Collingsworth’s overall positive attitude and enthusiasm stood out to us. Mr. Collingsworth, who grew up in Cedar Rapids, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry and minors in Computer Science and Spanish from the University of Iowa in spring 2015. Mr. Collingsworth is training in the laboratory of Dr. Michael Schnieders and is working on a project in collaboration with Dr. Michael Welsh aimed to develop computational tools to combat cystic fibrosis (CF). CF is caused by mutations in the gene that encodes the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) anion channel. In humans and pigs lacking CFTR, unchecked H+ secretion by the nongastric H+/K+ adenosine triphosphatase (ATP12A) acidifies airway surface liquid, while mice that lack CFTR express little ATP12A and secrete minimal H+. Thus, airway surface liquid in CF and non-CF mice have similar pH, suggesting that inhibiting ATP12A can reverse host defense abnormalities and treat CF in humans. The goal of Mr. Collingsworth’s project is to use computer aided molecular design to create specific inhibitors of ATP12A function.

The 2016 Smith-Gehring Graduate Fellow is Hannah Miller:

Miller, Hannah Headshot

Ms. Hannah Miller performed extremely well in classes during her first year in the graduate program. Ms. Miller is the department’s first Fast Track PhD student. The Fast Track program allows for high achieving University of Iowa undergraduate students to take PhD course work during their final undergraduate year. To qualify for this program Ms. Miller participated in an extensive amount of formal research in Dr. Todd Washington’s lab and maintained an exemplary academic record. Ms. Miller stated, “I was interested in the Fast Track PhD program in Biochemistry because it is a unique opportunity to dive deeper into research at a young age. The program gives me the opportunity to join a lab with my first year, giving me a great start on my thesis project. I’m very excited to see how the program will challenge me and allow me to progress as a scientist.” Ms. Miller has joined the laboratory of Dr. Kris DeMali. She is currently working on a project aimed at understanding how cells sense and transmit externally applied forces and dissecting how this process becomes dysregulated during tumorigenesis.

Congratulations to the 2016 IDT & Smith-Gehring Graduate Fellows!

John Donelson receives 2016 Distinguished Mentor Award

Thursday, August 25th, 2016

donelson 200x300Dr. John Donelson, Professor Emeritus and former Head of Biochemistry, has been awarded the 2016 Distinguished Mentor Award. Professor Donelson has an outstanding record of mentoring trainees, faculty and staff at all levels. By his example, and with his guidance and leadership, he has influenced the lives and careers of many scientists and physicians at Iowa and beyond.

After obtaining a BS in Biophysics from Iowa State, he left the comforts of his youth by joining the American Peace Corps. He taught math, chemistry and physics in Ghana, West Africa. There, he saw firsthand the havoc wrought by infectious diseases. This motivated him to return to the US, where he attended graduate school at Cornell University. He earned his PhD in Biochemistry in 1971 for work on exonucleolytic DNA sequence determination with DNA polymerase I. He was  awarded a Helen Hay Whitney fellowship to further develop DNA sequencing and phage molecular biology in Cambridge, England, with Nobel Laureate Fred Sanger.  Indeed, work that John and other luminaries did with Sanger during this period contributed to Sanger’s second Nobel Prize for dideoxy sequencing of DNA. Professor Donelson continued pioneering studies in molecular biology during a brief second postdoc at Stanford University with Professor David Hogness. He was then recruited to the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Iowa as an Assistant Professor in 1974. He brought back to Iowa his worldly experiences and cutting edge molecular techniques that fueled his research program on African trypanosomes for the next 37 years.

Among his 255 publications are landmark papers such as a 1974 Cell paper with Pieter Weinsick and David Hogness on chromosome mapping in the fruit fly Drosophila, his 1980 Nature paper reporting the sequence of the yeast 2 micron plasmid, and his groundbreaking contributions to the genomics of trypanosomes in three Nature and Science papers. Twenty years after first reading Scientific American articles in Africa, he wrote a 1985 review article in the same journal on “How the African Trypanosome Changes Its Coat.”

Professor Donelson served as a research mentor of 29 PhD students and 23 postdoctoral fellows. Bruce Citron, Director, Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Professor of Molecular Medicine, USF College of Medicine states “He truly cared about his students and the graduate program and provided just the right amount of guidance – not too much and not too little.” Kent Hill, Professor, Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics, UCLA reports that Professor Donelson was “always available for discussion and continuously works to identify opportunities for enriching the training experience of the people in his lab or classroom.” Dr. Shiyong Li, Associate Professor, Emory University School of Medicine, states “Professor Donelson had a remarkable ability to phrase constructive criticism in a way that was encouraging, leaving me wanting to work harder and better”. Nearly all of his trainees have gone on to prominent positions in academia and industry; many are leaders in molecular parasitology and molecular biology, thereby carrying on his legacy.

At the time of his University of Iowa retirement in 2011, Dr. Louis Miller of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases wrote a commendation to Dr. Donelson stating, “you were always the leader in the world in molecular biology of Trypanosomes.” In 2012, John surprised us by being offered and accepting an appointment as a visiting professor at the Federal University of Rio Grand do Norte in Brazil, where he teaches biochemistry and conducts genomic research on leishmania.

Dr. Donelson will be honored at the 2016 Distinguished Mentor Award Celebration and Lecture from 3 to 5 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 1, in 1110A MERF.

Mohammed Ismail awarded the 2016 Montgomery Biochemistry Scholar’s Prize

Monday, May 16th, 2016

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.