2014 News

2014 2013 2012 2011

  • December 5, 2014

    Biochemistry & Biophysics Secondary Faculty Featured in Rochester Review

    We were pleased to see Gloria Culver, Ph.D., a secondary faculty member in the Department of Biochemistry & Biophysics, mentioned in the Rochester Review Magazine in an article titled Going After Harmful Bacteria:

    One challenge in killing off harmful bacteria is that many of them develop resistance to antibiotics. Now researchers are targeting the formation of the protein-making machinery, or ribosomes, in those cells as a possible way to stop the bacteria. Gloria Culver, Professor of Biology, has, for the first time, isolated the middle steps in the process that creates the ribosomes.

    Published in Nature Structural and Molecular Biology, Culver's work—conducted with graduate student Neha Gupta—captures a piece of ribosomal RNA in one of the intermediate states of being pared down to fit with protein molecules.

    Read the complete story.

  • 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.

    Dr. Li was previously a postdoctoral fellow with Philip Zamore at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Please feel free to visit his personal and lab websites and view his CV.

  • 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

    Gerald Fink Provides Fitting Tribute to Fred Sherman at 2014 Yeast Genetics Meeting

    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 Latency from Jian Zhu, assistant professor of Microbiology and Immunology, and Modeling Immune Response in 3-D Bioreactor Cultures of Human Secondary Immune Organ Cells from David Wu, professor of Chemical Engineering. One pilot project awarded last year, Quantitative Proteomic Analysis of Influenza-infected Mice from 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.

  • 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 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

    Biochemistry & Biophysics Alum Patrick Brandt, To Give Seminar on Strategies for Choosing a Postdoc

    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 Training on 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 Dissertation in 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.

  • 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 10, 2014

    Biologist Sina Ghaemmaghami Honored with a National Science Foundation Early Career Award

    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 role of 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 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.


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