2010 News

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  • November 12, 2010

    Biochemical Genomics: Technique Speeds Identification of Genes Associated with Specific Bioactivity

    Researchers have developed a technique that identifies genes associated with specific biologically active proteins much more quickly than previously possible.

    The approach is potentially useful not just for analyzing gene functions in yeast—the organism on which it's first been demonstrated—but in other organisms as well, including humans. The technique was devised by associate professor Eric M. Phizicky, Ph.D. and research associate professor Elizabeth J. Grayhack, Ph.D. of the department of Biochemistry & Biophysics at the University of Rochester School of Medicine.

  • September 7, 2010

    Leon Miller, Scientist and Physician at URMC for 72 Years, Dies at 97

    Leon Miller, M.D., Ph.D.

    Leon L. Miller, M.D., Ph.D., a scientist and physician who was part of the fabric of the University of Rochester Medical Center for all but the first dozen years of its 84-year history, died Friday, Sept. 3, at Highland Hospital in Rochester.

    Dr. Miller, who arrived at the Medical Center in 1938 – just 14 years after University President Rush Rhees laid the cornerstone of the medical center complex and 12 years after the first baby was born at Strong Memorial Hospital – was 97 years old.

    Dr. Miller was as vigorous and lucid a person as you can imagine, said Robert Bambara,Ph.D., chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Biophyics. He came to every faculty meeting and all the seminars, sitting in the front row, listening intently to presentations and asking very astute questions. He was a deep part of the fabric of our department. He was a real advocate for supporting younger faculty members and gave inspiring talks about how established faculty members should support younger faculty, added Bambara.

  • September 3, 2010

    Fred Sherman Articles Honored as JBC Classics

    To celebrate 100 years of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, the Journal of Biological Chemistry chose to reprint two of Dr. Fred Sherman's articles as well as write a biographical sketch honoring Fred's over four decades of research with cytochrome c. The two reprints, The Mutational Alteration of the Primary Structure of Yeast Iso-1-cytochrome c (1968) and Identification of Missense Mutants by Amino Acid Replacements in Iso-1-cytochrome c from Yeast (1974) speak to Fred's early research in isolation and identification of cytochrome c mutants which continues today. Dr. Sherman is currently Professor Emeritus in the department of Biochemistry & Biophysics at the University of Rochester Medical Center. Please read the entire JBC Centennial tribute to Dr. Sherman.

  • June 28, 2010

    Maquat Receives International RNA Society Lifetime Achievement Award

    Lynne Maquat, Ph.D., J. Lowell Orbison Chair and Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of Rochester Medical Center, was honored with the RNA Society's Lifetime Achievement Award in Service on Saturday, June 26 at the society's 15th annual meeting in Seattle, Washington. Maquat has been a member of the society since its formation in 1993, and has played an extremely active role, holding every elective office from director, to secretary/treasurer, to president.

  • June 4, 2010

    Vitamin B3 Controls Important Life Processes by Changing Shape in Response to Oxygen Level

    Rex protein in action

    Scientists have obtained the first images of a common molecular signal, vitamin B3, which plays a role in making some bacteria potent and some men impotent.

    For the first time, researchers have captured three-dimensional images of a protein in the act of responding to oxygen levels by sensing vitamin B3. Vitamin B3, also known as niacin, is essential to convert the food we eat into energy. Vitamin B3 also regulates a variety of processes, including erectile dysfunction, aging and sleep patterns in people. The findings, published in the journal Molecular Cell, could guide future development of antibiotics, and in the long term, new treatments for erectile dysfunction.

    Vitamin B3 has been the focus of intense interest since its role as a signaling molecule was discovered, yet no one knew how proteins, the molecular machines of the cell, could sense the slight differences between the oxidized and reduced forms, said Clara Kielkopf, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of Rochester Medical Center and lead study author.

  • March 1, 2010

    Lynne Maquat Featured in ASCB Newsletter

    Lynne E. Maquat, Ph.D., the Dean's Endowed Chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of Rochester Medical Center, has been featured in the March 2010 American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) Newsletter for her contributions to mRNA research. Maquat demonstrated that in mRNA, the nonsense tidied up after itself through a process called nonsense-mediated mRNA decay (NMD).

    The problem goes way back, explains Joan Steitz of Yale. But I consider Lynne the pioneer—and it took her a number of years—in figuring out this mysterious process called nonsense-mediated mRNA decay. Nearly everyone working with mRNA realized that somehow cells can tell when a premature stop codon has been inserted into an open reading frame. Yet no one had an explanation of what happened to these nonsense proteins. According to Steitz, the big leap came when Maquat figured out that introns must leave a mark on newly synthesized mRNA. Working with Melissa Moore in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Maquat identified that mark—the exon junction complex (EJC).

    The full ACSB March 2010 Newsletter can be viewed here, with Dr. Maquat's profile beginning on page 15.

  • January 14, 2010

    Cancer Researcher Receives Innovation Award for Pioneering Ideas

    Joshua Munger, Ph.D., an assistant professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics, has received a prestigious Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation Innovation Award, which recognizes promising early-career scientists who have outstanding research but lack sufficient preliminary data to get traditional funding.

    Munger's research focuses on cancer cell metabolism. A virologist and biochemist by training, he is studying the metabolic activities that are altered when cells transform from normal to malignant. Whereas previous studies have focused narrowly on individual metabolic activities, Munger is taking a more global approach by examining the rates of numerous individual metabolic processes simultaneously.

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