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Archive for the ‘Biochemistry Hall of Fame’ Category

Jennifer Bays awarded the 2018 Subramanian Thesis and 2018 Clarence Berg Awards

Wednesday, September 5th, 2018

Dr. Jennifer Bays, a 2017 PhD with Dr. Kris DeMali, has been named the winner of the 2018 Subramanian Award for best PhD thesis in the Department of Biochemistry.  Dr. Bays’ thesis was entitled “Mechanisms of E-cadherin Mechanotransduction.” Jennifer is the 23nd winner of the Subramanian Award, which is made possible by a gift from Dr. Alap Subramanian, a 1964 PhD from the department, who parlayed his training with the late George Kalnitsky, (and with Irving Klotz at Northwestern and both Bernard Davis and Herman Kalckar at Harvard Medical School), into a highly successful career at the Max-Planck-Institut.

Jennifer was also named the winner of the 2018 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.” Clarence P. Berg, an internationally known amino acid biochemist who was a member of the department for 36 years (1932-1968). Dr. Berg is well known as the author of the 1980 book, “The University of Iowa and Biochemistry from their Beginnings.”

Jennifer is currently a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Christopher Chen’s laboratory at Boston University. Congratulations, Dr. Bays!

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

Alumna Dr. Liskin Swint-Kruse named Interim Chair of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at KUMC

Monday, June 18th, 2018

Biochemistry Alumna, (1995 PhD with Dr. Andrew Robertson), has been named  the Interim Chair of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Kansas Medical Center (KUMC). Dr. Swint-Kruse was recruited to the University of Kansas School of Medicine in 2004 after completing postdoctoral fellowships at Rice University and the University of Houston.  Since arriving at KUMC, she has developed a successful and well-funded research program that focuses on ways to improve genomics-based diagnoses for personalized medicine.   These studies of protein structure-function also have applications in protein engineering for biotechnology and in transcriptional control of metabolism in pathogenic bacteria. On a national level, Dr. Swint-Kruse has been very active in committees of the Biophysical Society and is also Secretary of the Gibbs Society of Biological Thermodynamics.

Biochemistry Alum, Tristram Parslow, receives CCOM Distinguished Alumni Award for Achievement

Friday, April 27th, 2018

Tristram Parslow, 1983 MD/PhD with Dr. Daryl Granner, was recently awarded a Carver College of Medicine Distinguished Alumni Award for Acheivement. Dr. Parslow has excelled in every aspect of his career—as a researcher, teacher, and department leader. His early work at the University of Iowa on immunoglobulin gene expression addressed issues that stumped Nobel laureates and National Academy of Sciences members. While on the pathology department faculty at the University of California, San Francisco at the height of the AIDS epidemic, Dr. Parslow engaged in a series of studies of the molecular virology of HIV and other RNA viruses, including influenza. In the 14 years since Dr. Parslow joined Emory University as chair of the Department of Pathology, their annual National Institutes of Health funding has grown from $12 million to $34 million. He continues to lead and mentor others in the field, both at Emory and as president of the Association of Pathology Chairs.

2017 Biochemistry Newsletter now available

Thursday, November 16th, 2017

The 2017 Biochemistry @ Iowa newsletter is hot off the presses and available for download. Alumni and friends should receive a hard copy in the mail this week. If you would like to be added to our mailing list, please send your contact information to biochem@uiowa.edu. While you are at it, feel free to send us your news and updates! Previous newsletters are also available online.

Elizabeth Boehm receives 2017 Subramanian Thesis Award

Thursday, August 31st, 2017

Elizabeth Boehm, who completed her PhD with Dr. M. Todd Washington, has been awarded the 2017 Subramanian Award for best PhD thesis in the Department of Biochemistry. Dr. Boehm’s thesis was entitled “The regulation of translesion synthesis through binding and activation of polymerases by PCNA.” Elizabeth received her PhD in June 2016 and is currently a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Johannes Walter at Harvard Medical School.

Elizabeth is the 22nd winner of the Subramanian Award, which is made possible by a gift from Dr. Alap Subramanian, a 1964 PhD from the department, who parlayed his training with the late George Kalnitsky, (and with Irving Klotz at Northwestern and both Bernard Davis and Herman Kalckar at Harvard Medical School), into a highly successful career at the Max-Planck-Institut. Our deepest thanks to Dr. Subramanian and our heartiest congratulations to Dr. Boehm.

Please visit our website for a complete list of previous winners of the Subramanian Award.

Biochemistry Alumnus Billy Hudson receives the Protein Society’s 2017 Carl Brändén Award

Tuesday, April 18th, 2017

Dr. Billy G. Hudson, a 1966 PhD with Drs. Rex Montgomery and Robert Barker, is the recipient of the Protein Society’s 2017 Carl Brändén Award which honors an outstanding protein scientist who has also made exceptional contributions in the areas of education and/or service to the field. Dr. Hudson is currently the Elliot V. Newman Professor of Medicine, Professor of Biochemistry, Cell and Developmental Biology, & Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology, as well as, the Director of the Center for Matrix Biology at Vanderbilt University.

Dr. Hudson has worked tirelessly to develop the Aspirnaut K-20 STEM Pipeline for Diversity Program that provides internships to an untapped pool of talented high-school students to encourage them to work in the STEM fields and go on to college. Dr. Hudson’s outstanding research accomplishments include seminal discoveries about the structure and chemistry of collagen IV scaffolds in extracellular basement membranes and have led to a potential treatment of diabetic kidney disease.

2016 Biochemistry Newsletter now available

Friday, November 4th, 2016

2016_newslettercoverimageThe 2016 Biochemistry @ Iowa newsletter is hot off the presses and available for download. Alumni and friends should receive a hard copy in the mail this week. If you would like to be added to our mailing list, please send your contact information to biochem@uiowa.edu. While you are at it, feel free to send us your news and updates! Previous newsletters are also available online.

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!

2015 Biochemistry Newsletter now available

Tuesday, October 20th, 2015

Cover_2015_newsletterThe 2015 Biochemistry @ Iowa newsletter is hot off the presses and available for download. Alumni and friends should receive a hard copy in the mail this week. If you would like to be added to our mailing list, please send your contact information to biochem@uiowa.edu. While you are at it, feel free to send us your news and updates! Previous newsletters are also available online.