Link: University of Iowa

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

April 27th, 2018 by Maren Rogers

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.

Five Undergraduate Students Awarded 2018 Rex Montgomery Scholarships

April 24th, 2018 by Maren Rogers

The 2018 Rex Montgomery Scholarships were award to:

  • Jesse Cochran, Dr. Dale Abel’s laboratory;
  • Abinav Jyotis, Dr. Krystal Parker’s laboratory;
  • Ariel Kopel, Dr. Sheila Baker’s laboratory;
  • Brianna Lupo, Dr. Catherine Musselman’s laboratory; and
  • Johnathan Melvin.

Rex Montgomery Scholarships recognize undergraduate students for their outstanding academic record and commitment to research. This scholarship was established by the late Dr. Rex Montgomery, Professor Emeritus of the Department of Biochemistry. Dr. Montgomery began his career at the University of Iowa in 1955, and was admired for his impact as a researcher, teacher and mentor. Dr. Montgomery was an internationally recognized carbohydrate biochemist and textbook author. While on the faculty, he served as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the College of Medicine, the Vice President of Research for the University and was the founding director of the University of Iowa Physician Assistant Program. Dr. Montgomery retired in 2005 after more than 50 years on the faculty.

Preston Anderson Publishes in Cell Stem Cell

April 20th, 2018 by Briana Horwath

Preston Anderson, a Biochemistry senior undergraduate student in John Engelhardt’s Lab,  is the first author on a paper published in Cell Stem Cell. The paper entitled, “Submucosal Gland Myoepithelial Cells are Reserve Stem Cells that can Regenerate Mouse Tracheal Epithelium” describes research on glandular myoepithelial cells (MECs). These cell were found to to be flexible and develop into replacement cells in their local environment.

“We demonstrated that MECs can self-renew and differentiate into seven distinct cell types in the airway,” says study co-first author Preston Anderson, a UI undergraduate working in the lab of John Engelhardt, UI professor and department head of anatomy and cell biology. “No other cell type in the lung has been identified with this much stem cell plasticity.” (Noon News – April 12, 2018)Congratulations Preston and the Engelhardt lab!

Dr. Dieckman awarded Nebraska EPSCoR First Award

April 5th, 2018 by Briana Horwath

Dr. Lynne Dieckman (Creighton University) former Biochemistry Post-Doc (Musselman Lab) and Molecular and Cell Biology Program PhD Student (Washington lab) is the recipient of the Nebraska EPSCoR FIRST Award. This is a one year award that includes a 100% match from Creighton University. The purpose of this NSF funded award is to help early career faculty compete for an NSF CAREER grant.

The National Science Foundation EPSCoR FIRST Award will fund Dr. Lynne Dieckman’s project entitled “Understanding Protein Interactions that Link DNA Replication and Nucleosome Assembly.” All living things, from simple microbes to higher plants and animals, depend on the stable transmission of biological information from parent to offspring. Genomic instability results from alterations in gene expression, which is controlled largely through the organization of the genes in eukaryotic chromosomes – i.e., the packaging of DNA into nucleosomes. The eukaryotic genome must be accurately organized into nucleosomes immediately following DNA replication. This process is called replication-coupled nucleosome assembly, and is mediated by two key factors: CAF-1, the protein complex that induces the formation of nucleosomes on newly synthesized DNA, and PCNA, the ring-shaped sliding clamp that recruits and regulates proteins during replication and nucleosome assembly. Studies show that the direct interaction between CAF-1 and PCNA is essential for the coupling of DNA replication and nucleosome assembly. However, how these two proteins interact and regulate replication-coupled nucleosome assembly is not clear. The major goals of Dr. Dieckman’s lab are to determine the biochemical and structural basis for binding between CAF-1 and PCNA, and how this interaction regulates CAF-1 activity and maintains genomic integrity. These studies will lead to a greater understanding of the link between DNA replication and nucleosome assembly, how the activity of CAF-1 is mediated by PCNA, and how disruptions of this regulation lead to aberrant gene expression.

Michael Schnieders receives 2018 Scholar Advocate Award

March 21st, 2018 by Maren Rogers

Dr. Michael Schnieders is the recipient of the 2018 Scholar Advocate Award. The University of Iowa Honors Program created this recognition in 2015 to acknowledge the critical role faculty and professional staff play in the cultivation and preparation of competitive applicants for national scholarships and fellowships. Dr. Schnieders is a a lively advocate whose personal experience with honors education and the fellowships process fuels an authentic and intentional investment in developing scholars at both the undergraduate and graduate level. Dr. Schnieders will be recognized with a monetary award and engraved memento at the Honors Recognition Ceremony held in April.

Marc Wold receives 2018 Honors Advising Award

March 21st, 2018 by Maren Rogers

Dr. Marc Wold is the recipient of the 2018 Honors Advising Award. The University of Iowa Honors Program recognizes one advisor each year who distinguish themselves in advising honors students. Dr. Wold is a thoughtful advocate for honors education who demonstrates an authentic and intentional investment in developing scholars at the undergraduate level. Dr. Wold will be recognized with a monetary award and engraved memento at the Honors Recognition Ceremony held in April.

Department of Biochemistry’s 70th Anniversary Celebration & 9th Annual Scientific Retreat

March 19th, 2018 by Judy Means

Mark your calendars for the Department of Biochemistry’s 70th Anniversary Celebration and 9th Annual Scientific Retreat, featuring a special session with former Department Heads Drs. Alan Goodridge and Arthur Spector.  All events will be held at the new Hancher Auditorium

For a schedule of events and to register, go to:

Registration deadline is July 20, 2018


Dr. Schnieders receives NSF CAREER Award

March 14th, 2018 by Maren Rogers

Dr. Michael Schnieders has received a National Science Foundation CAREER Award for his project entitled “CAREER: Chemical Theory for the Protein Crystal Folding Problem.” Organic molecular crystals play an important role in a range of fields including chemistry, biochemistry, materials science, pharmacology, and engineering. One everyday example of organic molecular crystals are pharmaceutical tablets, which are typically formulated to optimize properties such as shelf-life (i.e. thermal stability) and solubility (i.e. dissolution upon ingestion). A perhaps less appreciated role of organic crystals has been their pivotal impact in understanding the structure and function of biomolecules (i.e. proteins) via X-ray crystallography experiments.

Whereas drug molecules typically consist of only a few dozen atoms, proteins generally consist of thousands of atoms whose packing (i.e. 3-dimensional arrangement) is described by a process called “protein folding”. A driving force behind the folding of proteins is the hydrophobic effect, which is also responsible for the commonly observed tendency of oil and water to separate. The work in Dr. Schnieder’s group focuses on the rigorous incorporation of all forces that contribute to protein folding into efficient algorithms for the computational prediction of peptide and protein crystal structures (polymorphs).

The approach combines advanced models of molecular interactions commonly used to predict small molecule crystal polymorphs with sophisticated molecular dynamics sampling algorithms needed to describe protein folding. The impact of this project will be to expand the boundaries of the crystal structure prediction (CSP) field beyond small organic molecules (i.e. dozens of atoms) to include peptides and proteins (i.e. hundreds or thousands of atoms).

Adam Rauckhorst receives ADA grant

March 14th, 2018 by Maren Rogers

Dr. Adam Rauckhorst, Postdoctoral Fellow in the Taylor Laboratory, received a new American Diabetes Association (ADA) grant entitled “Regulation of hepatic glucose metabolism by a candidate mitochondrial glutamine carrier.” The goal of this proposal is to use novel genetically engineered mice harboring a liver specific deletion of the mitochondrial glutamine carrier (QC1) to study its function during the progression of Type 2 Diabetes (T2D).  Successful completion of the proposed research will generate new knowledge on the function of QC1 and its role in hyperglycemia during T2D.

Dr. Price receives NIH MIRA grant

March 14th, 2018 by Maren Rogers

Dr. David Price received a five-year $2.9 million NIH R35 MIRA grant beginning in April 2018. His project entitled “RNA Polymerase II Elongation Control” will allow Dr. Price to continue projects aimed at understand basic mechanisms of RNA polymerase II transcription and how transcription interfaces with chromatin and DNA replication.