Link: University of Iowa

Archive for the ‘Biochemistry Hall of Fame’ Category

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

2014 Biochemistry Newsletter now available

Friday, October 31st, 2014

The 2014 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 Alumnus Bradley T. Hyman elected into the Institute of Medicine

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

Bradley T. Hyman, a 1982 Biochemistry PhD with Arthur Spector and a 1983 MD from the Carver College of Medicine,  has been elected into the Institute of Medicine.  Election to the IOM is considered one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine and recognizes individuals who have demonstrated outstanding professional achievement and commitment to service.

Dr. Hyman is the John B. Penney Jr. Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School, and the the Director of the Massachusetts Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center at Massachusetts General Hospital. He is in the same IOM class as Nobelists Randy Schekman and Brian Kobilka and  joins a group of fewer than 1800 leading US medical scientists in this elite advisory organization.

Congratulations, Dr. Hyman!

Dr. Brenner’s Tribute to Dr. Andy Robertson

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

Robertson Desk 1The death of our colleague Andy Robertson two weeks ago was unexpected. His death is a reminder of just how important our friendships are. I met Andy in 1989, twenty-five years ago, when I was in graduate school and he was a postdoc at Stanford. He had just come from the University of Wisconsin where he did his PhD with John Markley. The reason Andy meant so much to me is that I spent five to seven days a week with him for a couple of years, seeing and talking with him nearly every day. That was a formative time in my life. Two years later, when he moved to our department as an assistant professor, he spent five to seven days a week seeing five of our colleagues who were then new assistant professors. He was very close with Dan Weeks, Madeline Shea, David Price, Pamela Geyer, Marc Wold—the heart and soul of our department—not to mention many others.

It turns out that, whether we are graduate students, technicians, post-docs, faculty members, or retirees, we’re all in formative periods of our lives and we always need friends.

In science, Andy really cared. He loved the turkey ovomucoid third domain. He loved every ionizable group in the turkey ovomucoid third domain from its amino terminus to its carboxy terminal group and every ionizable group in between. He really cared about that molecule. At Stanford, Andy spent two years working on ribonuclease, which was one of Buzz Baldwin’s favorite molecules, but he returned to turkey ovomucoid third domain when he was on the faculty at Iowa.

Beyond caring about every ionizable group, Andy truly cared about people. He was a very warm and graceful person. What is grace? Grace is the ability to adapt, to turn, to change, and to adjust to one’s surroundings. One of the ways to think about grace in terms of dealing with problems: picture Jacqueline Kennedy when her husband, our president, was shot in 1964. The type of grace she exhibited to hold her family together inspired people that life would go on and that we’ve got to make the best of a very difficult situation. If you look at graceful athletes—and, as a person who surfed and skied, Andy was a graceful athlete—they are constantly changing. At the top of a mountain, skiers imagine a line that they are going to take but, to get to the bottom, they shift their weight and turn on the basis of the wind, other skiers, and conditions encountered going down the mountain. You will not only encounter moguls and changing snow conditions, but actual ice patches. And, friends, there will be ice patches.

We’re mourning the loss of Andy Robertson, because we know that in life he would be available to us at any time. Andy was the kind of person who kept both eyes on you when he talked to you. When I had the opportunity to consider taking a position here, Andy was the first person I consulted about what I would find at the University of Iowa. Even though it was a telephone conversation, I knew that Andy was one hundred percent present with me in that conversation. We are mourning Andy because, not only do we no longer have him to listen to us, but he doesn’t have us to listen to him.

In closing, I emphasize that we need to know our friends, treasure our friends, and rely on our friends. Work hard, but please always talk with each other. We don’t know how long any of us will be here, we don’t know how long our friendships or our lives will last, and we don’t know what another person might be going through at any given time unless we are present, like Andy was.

Andy Robertson was a tremendously valued member of this department and of this world. No one can take his place. And guess what? No one can take anybody else’s place, either. Everyone has a role and everyone has an important contribution to make, not just in science and in the department, but in the world. Your role is a unique one that no one else can fill.

Let’s remember Andy’s life with as much grace as we can muster. Let’s try to shift speeds, shift our weight from one ski to the other without ever giving up our principles or our goals. Please talk with each other, check in with each other because life can be too short.

Thank you, Andy, for being a part of our lives.

Dr. Charles Brenner

Highlights of the Fifth Annual Biochemistry Retreat

Monday, August 25th, 2014

The 2014 Annual Biochemistry Retreat, organized by Lori Wallrath, Maria Spies, Elizabeth Boehm, Emily Malcolm, Jiannan Guo, Quinn Li, and Briana Horwath, was held on Saturday, August 23 at the Northridge Indoor Pavilion, Coralville. The Retreat was dedicated to Andy Robertson (former faculty member, 1991-2005), who unexpectedly died on August 14th, 2014. Dr. Brenner delivered a moving tribute to Dr. Robertson, describing his passion for research and teaching.

Oral presentations were given by Todd Washington, Ran Chen (Wold Lab), Larry Gray (Taylor Lab), Thomas Magin, Sheila Baker, Zhen Xu (Fuentes Lab), Casey Andrews (Elcock Lab), M. Ashley Spies, Pamela Geyer, Jiannan Guo (Price Lab), and Miles Pufall.

The poster session featured 28 posters. In the graduate student category, first place award went to Emily Malcolm (Davies Lab), who won the Lois Bigger Gehring Award, which supports travel to research conferences. Second place in this category went to Tyler Weaver (Musselman Lab) and third place to Jacob Litman (Schnieders Lab). Kaylee Lovander (Research Intern, Geyer Lab) won in the Postdoctoral Fellow/Research Intern category and Dylan Thiemann (Wallrath Lab) won in the undergraduate category.

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Fifth Annual Biochemistry Retreat poster winners: (Back row, from left): Tyler Weaver, Dylan Thiemann, and Jacob Litman; (Front row, from left) Emily Malcolm and Kaylee Lovander.