The 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. While you are at it, feel free to send us your news and updates! Previous newsletters are also available online.
Archive for the ‘Joseph Walder’ Category
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:
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.
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:
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!
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.
As the Hawkeye football team hosts the Northwestern Wildcats this weekend, the department is reminded of several friendly rivalries between the two schools. Adjunct Professor Joseph Walder was a 1975 MD and 1978 PhD from Northwestern before he joined our faculty. Richard McGee, a 1975 PhD with Arthur Spector and 2010 CCOM Distinguished Alumnus, is now a Professor in Medical Education & Faculty Development, as well as an Associate Dean for Faculty Recruitment at Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine. David Engman, a 1990 MD/PhD with John Donelson and currently a Professor of Pathology and Microbiology-Immunology, directs an active research group at Northwestern and recently stepped down as director of the MSTP program after a 16 year tenure. He was past chair of the Medicine Alumni Society Board of Advisors in CCOM. The Iowa/Northwestern connections do indeed run deep. Go Hawks!