Link: University of Iowa

Dr. Charles Brenner recognized on July 2019 dean’s List for notable and novel scientific awards

September 3rd, 2019 by Johnson, Abby T (UI Health Care)


Dr. Charles Brenner was recognized on the July 2019 list of notable awards receiving special recognition from the dean’s office. The first notable award was received for a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation titled, “Testing NAD Precursors as Galactagogues.” A grant from ChromaDex, Inc. titled, “Evaluating the Oral Bioavailability of NAD Boosters” was also listed as a notable award for Dr. Brenner.

Congratulations Dr. Brenner!

10th Annual Biochemistry Scientific Retreat Award Winners

August 26th, 2019 by Johnson, Abby T (UI Health Care)

The Biochemistry Department held its 10th Annual Scientific Retreat at the Old Capitol Centre on August 24, 2019. Keynote speaker, Professor Craig Kletzing, delivered an energetic talk on the interactions between the Sun and the Earth. The retreat consisted of seven oral presentations and twenty-four posters from faculty, staff, and students. The best oral presentation from graduate students/post-docs, went to Chris Ball (Price Lab). In the graduate student poster category, Colleen Caldwell (M. Spies Lab), won first place and Julio Sanchez (Musselman Lab) won second place. In the post-doctoral/fellow poster category, Shivangi Inamdar (Baker Lab) won first place. In the undergraduate/research intern/medical fellow/scientific professional category, Rebecca Cupp (Geyer Lab) won first place and Margaret Ketterer (Wallrath Lab) won second place. Thanks to everyone who participated!

Congrats Summer 2019 Biochemistry PhD Graduates

August 23rd, 2019 by Johnson, Abby T (UI Health Care)

Hannah Campbell, a Biochemistry PhD student mentored by Dr. Kris DeMali, received a PhD on August 2, 2019. Her thesis was entitled, “Mechanisms of E-cadherin Force Transmission.”Hannah is currently a Scientific Applications Specialist at Integrated DNA Technologies.

Lalita Oonthonpan, a Biochemistry PhD student mentored by Dr. Eric Taylor, received a PhD on August 2, 2019. Her thesis was entitled, “Two human mitochondrial pyruvate carrier mutations reveal distinct mechanisms of molecular pathogenesis.” Lalita is currently a scientist at Comet Therapeutics.


Congrats Hannah and Lalita!!

Dr. Charles Brenner featured in Noon News

August 22nd, 2019 by Johnson, Abby T (UI Health Care)

Dr. Charles Brenner, a co-senior author in an article published in Nature Communications, may have identified a class of drugs that could lead to new treatment of childhood brain cancer. See full article here.

Joseph Laird featured in Carver College of Medicine press release

August 1st, 2019 by Johnson, Abby T (UI Health Care)

A recent study led by Joseph Laird from the Baker Lab is featured in a Carver College of Medicine press release. The study entitled, “Rescue of rod synapses by induction of Cavα1F in the mature Cavα1F knockout mouse retina,” is published in Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science.

Dr. Arpit Sharma Publishes in eLife

July 30th, 2019 by Johnson, Abby T (UI Health Care)

Dr. Arpit Sharma, a 2018 PhD graduate with Dr. Eric Taylor, is the first author on a paper published in eLife. The paper is entitled, “Impaired skeletal muscle mitochondrial pyruvate uptake rewires glucose metabolism to drive whole-body leanness.”

Metabolic cycles are a fundamental element of cellular and organismal function. Among the most critical in higher organisms is the Cori Cycle, the systemic cycling between lactate and glucose. This manuscript explains how muscle-specific Mitochondrial Pyruvate Carrier (MPC) deletion in mice drives increased Cori cycling and fatty-acid oxidation that contribute to increased energy expenditure. Sharma et al. and Taylor show that this increased energy expenditure leads to strikingly decreased fat mass with complete muscle mass and strength retention in mice. Additionally, acutely disrupting the MPC in obese, high fat diet-fed mice when returning them to a normal fat diet accelerated fat mass loss and metabolic recovery. These findings raise the possibility that modulating skeletal muscle pyruvate metabolism in obese and T2D patients may aid fat mass loss and improvement of whole-body insulin sensitivity.


Congratulations Arpit!!

Drs. Maria Spies and Ashley Spies receive a seed grant award

July 30th, 2019 by Johnson, Abby T (UI Health Care)


Drs. Maria Spies and Ashley Spies received a seed grant award from the Center for Biocatalysis and Bioprocessing (CBB) for project entitled “Targeting RAD51 DNA repair protein for cancer therapy: development of a combined experimental/computational workflow.” The researchers are looking to initiate a drug-discovery campaign targeting human RAD51 recombinase, an important part in homology-directed DNA repair. This grant will allow them to carry out a fragment screen to identify RAD51 binders by SPR and to characterize the effect of the hits on the biochemical activities of RAD51.


Congratulations Ashley & Maria!!!

Dr. Lori Wallrath Awarded 2019 SROP Mentoring Award

July 29th, 2019 by Johnson, Abby T (UI Health Care)

Dr. Lori Wallrath was awarded a 2019 Mentoring Award from the University of Iowa Graduate College Summer Research Opportunities Program (SROP) for student advising and for her mentorship of undergraduate Misty Perez, from Whittier College. The UI Summer Research Opportunities program is the biggest in the BIG 10 and is designed to provide underrepresented undergraduate students with experience in research. During this program, students will receive first-hand exposure to graduate school life and to faculty life as they are paired with a mentor whose research is closely related to the students interests or goals.





Congratulations Lori!!


Tyler Weaver and Kyle Powers Co-winners of 2019 Subramanian Thesis Award

July 24th, 2019 by Johnson, Abby T (UI Health Care)

Tyler Weaver, who completed his PhD with Dr. Catherine Musselman, and Kyle Powers, who completed his PhD with Dr. Todd Washington, were awarded the 2019 Subramanian Award for the best PhD theses  in the Department of Biochemistry. The Subramanian Award is made possible by a gift from Dr. Alap Subramanian, a 1964 PhD student 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-Institute.

Dr. Weaver’s thesis was entitled “Regulation of polycomb repressive complexes by histone reader domains.” Tyler received his PhD in May 2019 and is currently a Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Bret Freudenthal’s lab.

Dr. Powers’s thesis was entitled “Structure and Function of the Disordered Tails in Translesion Synthesis DNA Polymerases.” Kyle received his PhD in December 2018 and is currently a Postdoctoral Researcher in Dr. Christiane Berger-Schaffitzel’s lab at the University of Bristol. 



Drs. London, Brenner, and Irani Receive NIH R01

July 23rd, 2019 by Johnson, Abby T (UI Health Care)

Drs. Barry London, Kaikobad Irani and Charles Brenner were awarded a multiple PI NIH R01 grant for their project “Evaluating NAD Supplementation as a Novel Treatment for Arrhythmias.” The researchers will study ways to prevent cardiac arrhythmia by determining how metabolism changes sodium channel structure. A great example of team science at work! Congrats!