November 5, 2014
Department Welcomes New Faculty Member!
Xin Li, Ph.D.
The Department of Biochemistry & Biophysics welcomes the arrival of Xin Li, Ph.D., who is a new Assistant Professor. Dr. Li studies the roles of PIWI-interacting RNAs (piRNAs) in the development of germ cells and to causes of infertility in humans and animals.
October 6, 2014
Colleagues Pay Tribute to Phil Fay
Drs. Sriram Krishnaswamy of the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia & University of Pennsylvania, and Peter Lollar of Emory University recently wrote a fitting tribute to our friend and colleague, Dr. Philip Fay, who passed away June 25, 2014 after a long battle with cancer. The two are researchers working in the same field as did Dr. Fay and published the tribute in Thrombosis and Haemostasis, a leading journal in the field. You can read the tribute here.
September 12, 2014
On July 29th - August 3rd at the Yeast Genetics Meeting in Seattle, Washington, Gerald Fink provided a fitting tribute for Fred Sherman. Gerald Fink, Ph.D. is an American biologist, who was Director of the Whitehead Institute at MIT from 1990-2001. He graduated from Amherst College in 1962 and received a Ph.D. from Yale University in 1965, having elucidated the histidine pathway in the yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae.
The above video is a tribute to Gerry's friend and colleague, Fred Sherman, Ph.D. who he and many others have called 'The Founder of Yeast Molecular Biology'. Sherman was the American scientist who pioneered the use of the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae as a model for studying the genetics and molecular biology of eukaryotic cells.
Dr. Sherman passed away on September 16, 2013 after a long and distiguished career at the Univeristy of Rochester, in the department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, for which he was the former Chair (1982-1999). Among Fred's many awards, publications and accolades, none was more deserving than his induction into the National Academy of Sciences.
To read more about Dr. Sherman and his work please visit the department's 'In Memoriam' page.
August 14, 2014
Maquat Receives Prestigious NIH MERIT Award
Lynne E. Maquat, Ph.D., the J. Lowell Orbison Endowed Chair and Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, has received a MERIT award from the National Institutes of Health to continue her research in RNA biology.
Maquat is an internationally recognized expert in the field of RNA biology, in which she works to discover new cellular pathways and clues to the molecular basis of human disease. She is the Founding Director of the University's Center for RNA Biology and in 2011 was elected to the National Academy of Sciences. She is one of three faculty members from SMD who have been appointed to the Academy and the only woman.
The MERIT award (the acronym stands for Method for Extending Research In Time) was established by NIH in 1986 to provide stable, long-term grant support to help top scientists pursue ambitious projects that require more time to develop -- with the idea that higher-risk research can lead to higher-impact findings. The award also lifts the burden of applying for new grants to fund their research. MERIT recipients receive five years of funding and are afforded a simplified renewal for a second five-year period, cutting out the complex reapplication process, as long as they meet certain criteria showing that their research has yielded results.
Scientists cannot apply for the award; they are nominated by the funding NIH institute. Less than five percent of NIH-funded investigators are selected.
August 6, 2014
Elena Rustchenko Awarded R01 Grant
Elena Rustchenko, Ph.D.
Research Associate Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Elena Rustchenko, Ph.D. has been awarded an R01 grant from NIH, section Drug Discovery and Resistance, for her proposal Molecular mechanisms of caspofungin resistance in the pathogen Candida albicans. This is a three year grant totaling $675,000 and starting immediately.
The Rustchenko-Bulgac Lab has focused for many years on the chromasomal instability of the human fungal pathogen, Candida albicans. Congratulations Elena!
July 31, 2014
Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics Celebrates 15-Year Service Awards
Sara Connelly (left) and Shelley Burns
We are pleased to celebrate Shelley Burns’ and Sara Connelly’s milestone anniversaries of working for the University of Rochester for 15 years in July 2014!
Shelley is an Administrator who wears many hats in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics. She is an expert Grants Administrator for the department and has an uncanny knowledge of NIH forms and regulations, and she keeps the faculty on time and compliant with all grant applications. She also coordinates recruitment and hiring of postdoctoral fellows, manages renovations, and is an authority on immigration and human resources rules and regulations.
Sara is a Technical Associate in the lab of Mark Dumont, Ph.D.. She is a highly accomplished scientist with knowledge and experience in areas ranging from yeast genetics to G protein coupled receptors to HIV envelope protein. She also performs vital roles in managing the Dumont lab (often referred to as the Connelly lab), providing instruction and guidance to students, and making the 3-7500 hallway a fun place to work. We are deeply appreciative of Shelley’s and Sara’s many years of service to our department!
June 26, 2014
Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics Mourns the Loss of Dr. Philip Fay
Dr. Philip Fay, Ph.D.
We are very saddened to relay the passing of our colleague and friend Phil Fay, Ph.D, Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics. Phil passed away Wednesday June 25th after a long and courageous battle with cancer. His incredible strength of character through a most difficult time remains an inspiration to us all.
Calling hours will be 3-6 pm Sunday June 29 at Anthony Funeral Chapel, Brighton, 2305 Monroe Ave. Rochester, NY, US, 14618. His Funeral Mass will be 11 am Monday June 30 at St. Louis Church, 64 S Main St, Pittsford. Burial will follow at White Haven Cemetery, 210 Marsh Road Pittsford, with a reception to follow at the Country Club of Rochester. His Obituary can be found here.
Among numerous awards and significant accomplishments in an esteemed career, Phil and research assistant professor, Hironao Wakabayashi, M.D., Ph.D. were recently nominated for the 2014 RIPLA Distinguished Inventor of the Year Award given by the Rochester Intellectual Property Law Association (RIPLA). They were nominated for their work in the field of Factor VIII technology for treatment of hemophilia A patients.
On July 8th, 2014 the flags at the University of Rochester will be lowered in honor of Dr. Fay.
June 6, 2014
Professor Mahin Maines Issued Two Patents
Image showing HeLa cancer cells dramatically increased in size and morphology when human BVR (biliverdin reductase) is introduced in the cells with an expression plasmid.
Biochemistry and Biophysics Professor Mahin Maines has been issued two patents for identification and development of a novel cell proliferation and differentiation factor (US patent 6, 969,610), and for Identification of Biliverdin Reductase as a Leucine Zipper-Like DNA Binding/Transcription Factor. (US, Canada, Europe and Australia 2002360742).
Image showing striking increase in BVR in a human kidney tumor compared to normal kidney tissue. BVR is stained reddish-orange in this image.
The Maines laboratory has identified Biliverdin Reductase (BVR) in human cells as a novel regulator of cell proliferation and differentiation. Her research shows that HeLa cancer cells dramatically increase in size and morphology when human BVR levels are elevated within the cells by artificial means. Her lab also discovered a striking increase in BVR levels in a human kidney tumor compared to normal tissue (see images, above and below). They found that BVR regulates and/or modulates activity of protein kinases downstream of the insulin/IGF-1 signaling cascade, including MAPK/ERK1/2 signaling, and that BVR is essential for activation of the ERK1/2 kinases that control cell proliferation and growth. The work has implications for the treatment of cancer and has resulted in a patent issued in US, Canada, Europe and Australia for
Identification of Biliverdin Reductase as a Leucine Zipper-Like DNA Binding/Transcription Factor. (US patent 6, 969,610).
Maines is a leading expert in BVR research and has uncovered many applications for this enzyme, including diabetes and a US patent was recently issued for this discovery. She also discovered two enzymes, HO-1 and HO-2 that are part of the same metabolic pathway as BVR. Her research in this area has opened up possible new therapeutic approaches to cardiovascular disease, diabetes and other disorders.
May 24, 2014
Fay, Wakabayashi & Maines Featured in Democrat & Chronicle as Nominees for Inventor of the Year
Among the other nominees for Inventor of the Year were B & &'s very own Drs. Philip Fay and Wakabayashi and Mahin Maines. Fay and Wakabayashi were nominated for the development of Factor VII proteins and Maines was nominated for discovering an unprecedented approach to mimic insulin action and increase glucose uptake for the treatment of diabetes.
Donald S. Rimai was named Distinguished Inventor of the Year at the ceremonies held at the Rochester Museum & Science Center. Rimai received 111 patents during his 34-year career at Eastman Kodak Co. The entire Democrat and Chronicle article is available here.
May 22, 2014
Pilot Awards Support Three Projects
The Center for Integrative Bioinformatics and Experimental Mathematics in the Department of Biostatistics and Computational Biology has awarded two projects pilot awards:
Identification of Interferon Stimulated Genes Regulating Viral Latencyfrom Jian Zhu, assistant professor of Microbiology and Immunology, and
Modeling Immune Response in 3-D Bioreactor Cultures of Human Secondary Immune Organ Cellsfrom David Wu, professor of Chemical Engineering. One pilot project awarded last year,
Quantitative Proteomic Analysis of Influenza-infected Micefrom Sina Ghaemmaghami, assistant professor of Biology, received a second-year renewal with supplementary funding.
Ghaemmaghami, a secondary faculty member in Biochemistry & Biophysics, is focused on understanding the mechanisms of protein expression, folding and degradation. His lab investigates how cells maintain a homeostatic balance between these processes, and how this homeostasis is effected by disease and aging. The projects in the lab draw on a number of disciplines including cell biology, biochemistry, systems biology and computational biology.
May 20, 2014
B & B Dept Graduate Student Wins Best Poster Award
Biochemistry and Biophysics graduate student Chinmay Surve has won the Best Poster Award at the recently concluded American Society of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics society's, Upstate NY Pharmacological Society meeting in Buffalo, NY. Chinmay works in the laboratory of Dr. Alan Smrcka where he is looking at signaling molecules downstream of G protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) in neutrophils which play a role in neutrophil chemotaxis and how dynamism between these molecules regulate neutrophil chemotaxis.
May 8, 2014
Seminar: Introduction to the AKTA Pure Chromatography System
The Structural Biology & Biophysics Facility with the support of the Center for AIDS Research (CFAR) recently acquired a ÄKTA pure chromatography system for purification of RNA, proteins, peptides or complexes thereof. During this seminar GE scientists will illustrate how the system supports a wide range of chromatography techniques that can accelerate purification thus allowing for an increase in productivity and efficiency.
Presenters: Paul R. Gellentien, Ph.D. (ÄKTA Field Application Consultant, GE Healthcare Life Sciences) and Troy Burke, Ph.D. (Field Sales Specialist, Research Sciences, GE Healthcare Life Sciences).
Date: May 13th, 2013
Time: 10:00 am – 11:15 am
Location: Med Center K-207 (2-6408)
April 16, 2014
Dept Faculty Members Fay and Wakabayashi Nominated for the Distinguished Inventor of the Year
Dr. Philip Fay, Ph.D.
Hironao Wakabayashi, M.D., Ph.D.
Biochemistry & Biophysics professor, Philip Fay, Ph.D. and research assistant professor, Hironao Wakabayashi, M.D., Ph.D. have been nominated for the 2014 RIPLA Distinguished Inventor of the Year Award given by the Rochester Intellectual Property Law Association (RIPLA). They were nominated for their work in the field of Factor VIII technology for treatment of hemophilia A patients.
Ongoing studies in the Fay lab include physical and biochemical analyses of factor VIII structure, inter-subunit interactions, and intermolecular interactions with other components of the clotting cascade. Dr. Fay's research program is aimed at gaining fundamental insights into the structure, activity and regulation of a protein central to hemostasis. This information will have specific implications for understanding hemophilia A and developing superior therapeutics for its treatment.
Drs. Fay and Wakabayashi's nomination and significant accomplishments will be recognized before the community at the Award Ceremony on Wednesday, May 14, 2014 from 6 to 9 pm at the Rochester Museum & Science Center (RMSC). The department would like to extend our congratulations to both!
March 27, 2014
Department Alumnus Selected as part of a "Next Gen" Crystallographer Group for 2014 International Year of Crystallography
Andrew T. Torelli (Ph.D. Biophysics 2008) was invited to attend the Opening Ceremony for the 2014 International Year of Crystallography (IYCr) held at UNESCO headquarters in Paris and served on a discussion panel as a representative of next-gen crystallographers. Many distinguished speakers, UN officials, international scientists, students and and several hundred guests attended this historic event. The Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, addressed the assembly by video, followed by Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, and the heads of multiple international scientific organizations. Keynote speakers included Jenny Glusker, who delivered a rich historical perspective of crystallography, and Brian Kobilka, who recounted his 2012 Nobel Prize work with Robert Lefkowitz involving G protein-coupled receptors. Other fascinating talks included efforts to expand X-ray crystallography in emerging nations, cutting edge technologies, the first extraterrestrial diffraction measurements used to interpret the mineralogy of Mars, and applications of crystallography and symmetry in the study of art. The Discussion Panel included eight selected, early-career crystallographers from around the world, and communicated critical issues facing the next generation of crystallographers to policy makers and sovereign delegations.
March 25, 2014
Announcing Faculty Promotions and Awards
The Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics is proud to announce the following well-deserved promotions, recently approved by the Board of Trustees and signed by President Seligman:
- Alan Grossfield, promoted to Associate Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics
- Josh Munger, promoted to Associate Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics
- Joe Wedekind, promoted to Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics
- Yi-Tao Yu, promoted to Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics
We were also very pleased to learn of the following awards in recognition of two very deserving Faculty:
- Eric Phizicky, to receive the 2014 William H. Riker University Award for Graduate Teaching
- Doug Turner (B&B secondary appointment) will receive the 2014 Doctoral Commencement Award for Lifetime Achievement in Graduate Education.
Both of these awards will be presented at the 2014 Doctoral Commencement on Saturday morning, May 17, 2014, at the Eastman Theater.
Please join us in congratulating these faculty! We are grateful for all of their hard work and service they offer our department, and for the contributions they make to the University. We look forward to hosting a party to celebrate their achievements sometime in the coming months.
March 24, 2014
Biochemistry & Biophysics Professor selected to Speak at Master's Commencement Ceremony
Professor Lynne Maquat, Ph.D., The J. Lowell Orbison Endowed Chair and Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics has been selected to be the speaker at the University of Rochester Master's Degree Ceremony. The ceremony is to be held at noon on May 17th, at at the Eastman Theater.
March 18, 2014
Patrick Brandt, who received his Ph.D. in Biochemistry working with Dr. Robert Bambara in the Department of Biochemistry & Biophysics, will present a seminar entitled
Thinking Strategically About Your Postdoc Trainingon Friday March 21, 2014 in the Hellen Wood Hall Auditorium, 1W304. A reception will follow the talk, 4 pm - 5 pm. Patrick is also giving an additional talk on Friday, March 21:
Using Microsoft Word to Format Your Dissertationin the Neuman Room (1-6823) from 9–10:30 AM.
Patrick is the Director of Science, Training and Diversity at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine and Dentistry. All graduate students are encouraged to attend! For more information about Patrick, visit the UNC Science, Training and Diversity page.
March 5, 2014
Free Webinar: 'The Future of RNA-based Therapies'
Faculty Perspectives, an online lecture series sponsored by the Office of Alumni Relations, will feature Lynne Maquat, director of the Center for RNA Biology and the J. Lowell Orbison Distinguished Service Alumni Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, on Thursday, March 6. Maquat will discuss the molecular basis of human diseases and new RNA-centric therapies to treat them. The free webinar starts at 1 p.m. Register here.
March 3, 2014
Professor Harold Smith's company OyaGen was recently featured in a 2-page article in the February issue of A&U Magazine, a publication devoted to art, activism, and current events related to the HIV-affected community. The article discussed exciting new potential treatments being developed at OyaGen and can be read online here.
February 18, 2014
Chinmay R. Surve Wins Travel Award to Attend the American Society Experimental Biology Meeting
Chinmay R. Surve, a graduate student in the Department of Biochemistry was recently awarded a Graduate Student Travel Award to attend the American Society for Pharmacology & Experimental Therapeutics section of the Experimental Biology Meeting in San Diego, CA (2014). Chinmay works in the laboratory of Dr. Alan Smrcka where he is looking at signaling molecules downstream of G protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) in neutrophils which play a role in neutrophil chemotaxis and how dynamism between these molecules regulate neutrophil chemotaxis.
January 16, 2014
Lynne E. Maquat, Ph.D., the J. Lowell Orbison Endowed Chair and Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, was named the 2014 Athena Award winner today at a special luncheon at the Rochester Riverside Convention Center. The award, presented annually by the Women's Council of the Rochester Business Alliance, recognizes women who excel in their professions, give back to their communities and mentor other women for leadership roles.
Maquat is an internationally recognized expert in the field of RNA biology in which she works to discover new cellular pathways and clues to the molecular basis of human disease. She is the Founding Director of the University's Center for RNA Biology and in 2011 received one of the highest honors possible for any scientist - election to the National Academy of Sciences. In addition, having spent her career advocating for young women in the sciences, Maquat founded the University of Rochester Graduate Women in Science Program (GWIS) in 2003. Elected for her exceptional research, which has been published in more than 110 peer reviewed scientific journals, Maquat is one of only three faculty members from the University of Rochester Medical Center who have been appointed to the Academy and the only woman.
The Athena award program was founded in 1982 to recognize and honor the achievements of outstanding female leaders and introduced to Rochester in 1987. This year, Maquat was one of thirteen women chosen as finalists by the Rochester Women's Council for their professional excellence, community service and active and generous assistance in helping other women develop leadership skills.
January 10, 2014
Sina Ghaemmaghami, an assistant professor of biology and member of the Biology & Molecular Biology and Biophysics, Structural & Computational Biology graduate programs at the University of Rochester, has been recognized by the National Science Foundation (NSF) as a scientist who
exemplifies the roleof teacher-scholar. The NSF has named Ghaemmaghami a winner of its Faculty Early Career Development Award (CAREER).
The award includes a five-year grant totaling $950,000 to fund Ghaemmaghami's research into protein folding.
Sina is already recognized as one of the brightest in his field," said John Jaenike, chair of the University's Department of Biology.
His work on protein folding and proteomic turnover is of central importance to understanding basic cell physiology.
As an early-career scientist, this award will go a long way in helping me establish a viable long-term research program at the University,said Ghaemmaghami.
I especially appreciate the special focus this award places on the integration of education, which will lead to research opportunities for more undergraduates.
January 9, 2014
Memorial Service Held for 'Father of Yeast Genetics'
A memorial gathering in honor of Fred Sherman was held Dec. 6 at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. Fred Sherman, a major figure in molecular biology, died after a long illness on Sept. 16, 2013. The event was attended by friends, co-workers, former students, former post-docs, and other admirers from around the U.S. After introductory remarks by Dr. Bradford Berk, Chief Executive Officer of the University of Rochester Medical Center, an overview of Fred’s scientific contributions and personal reminiscences of Fred were presented by Dr. Gerald Fink, Margaret and Herman Sokol Professor of Biology at MIT, who co-taught a course in yeast genetics at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory with Fred for 17 years. This course is credited with introducing many eminent molecular biologists to the field of yeast genetics. Additional reminiscences were provided by Mark Dumont, Michael Hampsey, James Hicks, Letian Kuai, Susan Liebman, David Pearce, Eric Phizicky, Rolf Sternglanz, and Kenneth Zaret. Elena Rustchenko-Bulgac provided closing remarks.
A video recording of the complete service is available here. Also, please see the links to the printed program from the memorial (including excerpts of some comments about Fred from people who could not attend the service, and a song about Fred written by Tom Fox and the late Ira Herskowitz) and obituaries of Fred that have recently appeared in the journals Science and Genetics.
January 8, 2014
On January 16, the Women's Council, an affiliate of the Rochester Business Alliance, will honor thirteen women chosen as this year's finalists for the Athena Award, based on their significant professional achievements, their community service endeavors, and their leadership in the advancement of other professional women. Among them is Dr. Lynne Maquat, Ph.D., the J. Lowell Orbison Endowed Chair and Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics in the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. She is also founding director of the UR Center for RNA Biology, and founding chair of UR Graduate Women in Science.
In 2011, she received one of the highest honors possible for a scientist, election to the National Academy of Sciences, for her exceptional research in the field of RNA biology discovering new cellular pathways and the molecular basis of human diseases. She has been published in more than 110 peer reviewed journals, written 23 book chapters and edited 4 books on the topic. Maquat was also elected in 2006 to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Maquat has spent her career advocating for young women in the sciences. Her many mentoring awards include the 2013 University of Rochester President's Diversity Award and the 2014 William C. Rose Award from the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. She has been inspired by male professors who, unlike some, believed there is a place for women in science.
January 7, 2014
In Memoriam: Fred Sherman - The First Yeast Molecular Biologist
The journal Genetics has published an article in memory of Dr. Fred Sherman, who died September 16, 2013 at the age of 81 years after a long illness. A renowned molecular biologist, Fred obtained his Ph.D. with Robert Mortimer at the University of California, Berkeley, followed by postdoctoral training with Boris Ephrussi in France and Herschel Roman in Seattle. He spent his entire career as a Professor at the University of Rochester School of Medicine. Fred received many awards, including election to the National Academy of Sciences.
January 6, 2014
Science Magazine Celebrates Career of Fred Sherman
Fred Sherman, a brilliant geneticist who popularized the use of baker’s yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, as a genetic model system of eukaryotic cells, died on 16 September at the age of 81. Budding yeast are now used at virtually all research centers worldwide, largely due to Fred’s efforts and mentoring of many of the leaders in the fi eld. Indeed, Randy Schekman, who shared this year’s Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, was introduced to yeast in the Cold Spring Harbor course that Fred taught for 17 summers with his friend and colleague Gerald Fink. Many students and postdoctoral fellows who were trained in Fred’s own laboratory also helped shape the fi eld of yeast genetics. Fred taught by example how to think about science, how to do it, and how to enjoy it. He lived life fully, with joy, humor, and dance (ballet), and without ever really separating life from science.
For more on the life and accoplishments of Dr. Sherman, please read Science Magazine's retrospective.