Link: University of Iowa

Archive for the ‘Biochemistry Hall of Fame’ Category

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.

Biochemistry Alumna Dr. Debbie Thurmond joins City of Hope as Chair of the Department of Molecular & Cellular Endocrinology

Monday, September 21st, 2015

HeadshotBiochemistry  Alumna, Debbie C. Thurmond, a 1997 PhD with Alan Goodridge, has joined City of Hope as professor and founding chair of the Department of Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology within the institution’s new Diabetes & Metabolism Research Institute. Thurmond will lead City of Hope’s efforts to develop new diabetes treatments, focusing on potential therapies that can reverse or prevent the onset of the disease.

Dr. Thurmond joins City of Hope from Indiana University, where she was a professor of pediatrics and associate director of the Basic Diabetes Research Group within the Herman B Wells Center for Pediatric Research.

Highlights of the 6th Annual Biochemistry Retreat

Monday, August 24th, 2015

The Department of Biochemistry held their 6th Annual Retreat on August 22, 2015, in the University Capitol Centre. The retreat featured 10 oral and 35 poster presentations.

The first and second place Graduate Student Poster Award went to Jennifer Bays (DeMali Lab) and Will Hacker (Elcock Lab), who recevied a Lois Bigger Ghering Travel Award to attend a scientific conference of their choice. The third place Graduate Student Poster Award went to Arpit Sharma (Taylor Lab). The first and second place Postdoctoral Fellow and Staff Poster Award went to Casey Andrews (Elcock Lab) and Joseph Laird (Baker Lab). The first and second place Undergraduate Poster Awards went to Ossama Abu-Halawa (Pufall Lab) and Sarah Gardner (Baker Lab).

Retreat2015Posterwinners reduced

Back row (from left): Joseph Laird, Arpit Sharma, Will Hacker, Casey Andrews, Ossama Abu-Halawa
Front row (front left): Jennifer Bays, Sarah Gardner

John Pryor wins the Clarence Berg Award

Monday, March 16th, 2015

John Pryor, a 2012 PhD with Dr. Todd Washington, has been named the winner of the 2014 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.” Dr. Pryor was an American Heart Association-funded graduate student who focused on the role of replication accessory factors in promoting translesion DNA synthesis.

Previously, John was named the winner of the 2013 Subramanian Award for best PhD thesis in the Department of Biochemistry.  John is a Lineberger Cancer Center Postdoctoral Fellow in Dale Ramsden’s laboratory at the University of North Carolina. His postdoctoral work will focus on the mechanism of DNA double-strand break repair by the non-homologous end-joining pathway. Congratulations to Dr. Pryor!

Karina Kruth wins the Subramanian Thesis Award

Monday, March 16th, 2015

Karina Kruth, who completed her PhD with Dr. Peter Rubenstein, has been named the 2014 Subramanian Award for best PhD thesis in the Department of Biochemistry. Karina is a postdoctoral scholar in Dr. Miles Pufall’s laboratory at the University of Iowa, Department of Biochemistry. Her postdoctoral work will focus on the glucocorticoid receptor structure and resistance to glucocorticoid treatment in Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.

Karina is the 21st 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. Kruth.

Wonderful News, a note from Dr. Brenner

Thursday, February 19th, 2015

Dear members of the Biochemistry Community,

In this fall’s newsletter, I shared our goal of creating a endowment that will support the cost of Biochemistry first year graduate student packages. Our initial goal was $3 million and I told you that we were nearing the first $1 million. Now, I would like to tell you about two of the leadership gifts that we’ve received toward endowing these first year graduate student packages.

The first $750,000 toward our $3 million goal came from unrestricted gifts in Biochemistry’s UI Foundation accounts, from the Elizabeth K. Smith Fund, which was given in memory of Dr. Smith, a 1943 PhD in Biochemistry, and from the gift of Dr. Lois Bigger Gehring in support of graduate education. Lois, who received her master’s at Iowa, was very excited to be part of this initiative and increased her gift in the hopes that other friends of the Department would respond. Notably, income from the first $750,000 toward graduate education will support one first year package beginning this August, namely the Smith-Gehring Fellowship.

In addition, the Department is very excited to thank Dr. Joseph Walder for making a gift in support of Biochemistry graduate education for the next three years. Joe started his independent research career as faculty member in the Department in 1978 and launched Integrated DNA Technologies in 1987. Joe’s gift will support two IDT Graduate Fellows beginning this August.

Just as Biochemistry first year graduate students do, the Smith-Gehring and IDT Fellows will perform research rotations with 3 or 4 members of the Biochemistry faculty while taking the first year curriculum and learning the graduate ropes. In these times of tight Departmental budgets, the support of friends of Iowa Biochemistry is invaluable.

Your support can make possible a 4th or 5th first year graduate student package and can help permanently endow support for graduate education in Biochemistry at Iowa.

Let’s thank the hundreds of people who have contributed to Biochemistry unrestricted funds at the UI Foundation, the supporters of the Elizabeth K. Smith Fund, Lois Bigger Gehring, and Joe Walder for their remarkable generosity.

If you or someone you know can join Lois and Joe in support of Biochemistry graduate education, please do not hesitate to give me a call.

Charlie Brenner
319-512-9500