2013 News

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  • October 11, 2013

    Dumont Wins Outstanding Course Director Award

    Mark Dumont, Ph.D.

    Professor Mark Dumont, Ph.D., was recently presented the Outstanding Course Director Award for 2013. Mark has served as course director for Biochemistry IND 408, a core course in the graduate studies curriculum within the School of Medicine and Dentistry, for over 10 years. Previous to this service, Mark served as director of Biochemistry of Macromolecules, BCH 412, for 5 years. As noted by Professor Eric Phizicky, Ph.D., who lectures in IND 408, Mark has shown an uncanny ability, coupled with exceptional effort, to continually evolve the course to more up-to-date topics and to more sophisticated analysis of existing topics. Almost alone among course directors, he attends most lectures most years, allowing him to evolve a highly coherent course. Jeffrey Hayes, Ph.D., Professor and Chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics remarks that Mark's commitment to his students and efforts on their behalf has rightfully earned him the high opinion of both his colleagues and his students, and serves as an exemplary example for all those involved in teaching.

    Established in 2013, this award is given to an Outstanding Graduate Course Director. The selection of the awardee is based on the course’s record of excellence, course-instructor survey evaluations and letters of recommendation from students enrolled in the course, and is presented by the Office of the Senior Associate Dean for Graduate Studies.

  • September 19, 2013

    Fred Sherman, Major Contributor to Modern Genetics, Dies

    Dr. Fred Sherman

    Fred Sherman, Ph.D., an internationally recognized scientist and a faculty member at the University of Rochester Medical Center since 1962, died on September 16 at the age of 81. Sherman, who served as chair of the Department of Biochemistry and then the merged Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics from 1982 until 1999, was one of only three URMC faculty members appointed to the prestigious National Academy of Sciences.

    Sherman performed groundbreaking research on the structure of genes and the effects of genetic mutations on proteins in yeast. He was also a proponent of the use of baker's yeast as a genetic model system. Research using yeast is now conducted at virtually all research centers worldwide, largely due to Sherman’s efforts and his teaching of many leaders in the field.

    It’s hard to overstate Fred’s contribution to modern genetics. His insights into how genetic mutations affect protein coding and his foresight of the utility of the yeast system quite literally changed the course of biological research, said Jeffrey J. Hayes, Ph.D., chair of Biochemistry and Biophysics at URMC. Beyond his scientific accomplishments, Fred’s quick wit and sense of humor were legendary. It was always enjoyable to be in a room with Fred. He will be terribly missed.

    The Democrat and Chronicle has published an article about Fred's life, viewable here.

  • August 9, 2013

    URMC Biochemistry Professor Receives 2014 ASBMB William C. Rose Award

    Lynne Maquat, Ph.D., the J. Lowell Orbison Endowed Chair & Professor, Biochemistry & Biophysics, Director of the University of Rochester Center for RNA Biology, and Chair of the University of Rochester Graduate Women in Science, has been selected to receive The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) 2014 William C. Rose Award. The William C. Rose Award recognizes outstanding contributions to biochemical and molecular biological research and a demonstrated commitment to the training of young scientists, as epitomized by the late Dr. Rose. A part of the Award includes transportation to the 2014 ASBMB Annual Meeting to present a lecture, April 26-30, 2014 in San Diego. For more on Dr. Maquat and her research program please visit the Maquat Lab.

  • August 2, 2013

    Dr. Mahin Maines Granted Patent

    On June 4, 2013 Dr. Mahin Maines' patent application #8,455,427: Methods of Modifying Insulin Signaling Using Biliverdin Reductase was granted by the US Patent Trademark Office. The application of the technology is treatment of type 2 diabetes. The patent was issued for therapeutic use of a 7 residue peptide that activates insulin receptor kinase (IRK) and increases glucose uptake more effectively than insulin or IGF-1. The peptide is derived from biliverdin reductase, which itself is a kinase/kinase, a scaffold protein and intracellular transporter in the insulin/IGF-1/PI3-K/MAPK pathways. Additional patent applications for use of the reductase in regulation of the noted pathways are pending.

  • July 19, 2013

    Professor's Company Produces Video

    Oyagen Inc, a biotech company founded and directed by Harold C. Smith, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, and the Center for RNA biology has produced a video describing how the AIDS virus reproduces and how novel drugs being developed by the company to enable naturally occurring host defense factors to block the virus. The video was produced in conjunction with a recently graduated RIT student Tang Tao.

  • June 14, 2013

    Department Faculty Awarded 2013 Provost's Multidisciplinary Award

    The X-ray crystal structure of bacterial ribosome.

    Biochemistry and Biophysics Department faculty Dmitri Ermolenko, Ph.D. and David Mathews, M.D., Ph.D., in collaboration with Professor Gloria Culver, Ph.D. from the Biology Department, in the School of Arts and Sciences, were recently awarded a Provost's Multidisciplinary Award to study how RNA structure contributes to the regulation of gene expression. Their project, entitled Regulation of Protein Synthesis by mRNA Structure, aims to take a novel look at initiation of protein synthesis in eukaryotes through multiple approaches, including single-molecule fluorescent microscopy and fluorescent spectroscopy (Ermolenko laboratory), probing of RNA structure (Culver laboratory), and computational biology (Mathews laboratory). The research will test whether the secondary structure of mRNA facilitates the recruitment of initiation factors and thereby aids translation initiation. These studies will address fundamental biological questions, potentially changing paradigms regarding regulation of protein synthesis.

    A FRET time trace showing changes in donor (green) and acceptor (red) fluorescence, which correspond to fluctuations of the ribosome between different conformations.

    The Provost's Multidisciplinary Award provides pilot funding for especially exciting scholarly research with a high probability of future support from external sources of funding. The Award is designed to foster collaboration between departments and across schools at the University of Rochester. Five diverse research projects at the University were selected as recipients of the sixth annual Provost's Multidisciplinary Awards. The initiative provides $250,000 each year to support faculty research that crosses disciplines.

  • May 17, 2013

    Department of Biochemistry & Biophysics Holds Annual Awards Ceremony

    The Department of Biochemistry & Biophysics held its annual Awards Ceremony on Friday, May 17, 2013. Congratulations to our 2013 Graduates:

    Ph.D. Program in Biochemistry:
    • Jennifer DeAngelis
    • Kimberly Dean
    • Rozzy Finn
    • Jason Gloor
    • Chenguang Gong
    • Athena Kantartzis
    • Geoffrey Lippa
    • Jessica McArdle
    • Adam Miller
    • Sharon Pepenella
    • Karyn Schmidt
    • Wen Shen
    • Cody Spencer
    • Guowei Wu
    Ph.D. Program in Biophysics:
    • Prahnesh Akshayalingam Venkataraman
    • Paul Black
    • Zhenjiang Xu

    Our department was particularly honored this year to receive the University of Rochester's prestigious Wallace O. Fenn Award named after the first Chairman of the Department of Physiology. This award is given annually to a graduating student from any program within the Medical Center judged to have completed especially meritorious Ph.D. thesis research. This year, the award was given to two recipients for their thesis originality, creative thinking and excellence in research and both recipients were students from the Department of Biochemistry & Biophysics! Congratulations to Paul Black and Chenguang Gong! For a complete list of all awards, please see the Awards Ceremony Program. Photos of the event can be viewed on the B&B event photos page.

  • April 22, 2013

    URMC Biochemistry Professor Authors Paper in Science

    Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics Professor Mark Dumont was the senior author on a paper published in the March 29, 2013 issue of Science. The work described the structure of the protein Ste24p, one of the proteins responsible for processing lipid-modified proteins in yeast and humans.

    Molecular structure of the protein Ste24p.

    The research was performed in collaboration with scientists from the University of Virginia and the Hauptman Woodward Institute in Buffalo, as part of the Membrane Protein Structural Biology Consortium (MPSBC), funded by the National Institutes of Health Protein Structure Initiative. MPSBC is one of 9 membrane protein structure determina- tion centers established in July 2010 as part of the NIGMS PSI: Biology Initiative.

    MPSBC aims to establish a pipeline to generate multiple target constructs for expression studies followed by pre-crystallization screening to identify stable protein:detergent complexes. The complexes then undergo high-throughput crystallization screening and optimization followed by structure determination. Targets include transporters, transmembrane enzymes involved in lipid synthesis and lipid attachment, and membrane protein complexes.

  • February 25, 2013

    Josh Munger, Ph.D. Discusses Jobs in Biochemistry and Biophysics with the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

    Joshua Munger was studying to become a veterinarian, but a microbiology requirement in college — in which he learned about the constant fight between host cells and the viruses that attack them — changed everything. There's this evolutionary battle between the two,” he said. “I enjoyed learning about how they're always one-upping each other, how they're always trying to either cause infection or to limit the infection.

    Munger, 37, has been an assistant professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of Rochester Medical Center since 2008. His work, which looks at how viral infection changes the metabolism of cells, has implications for cancer research and other areas.

  • February 15, 2013

    URMC Biochemistry Professor Named a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology

    Eric Phizicky, Ph.D.

    Eric M. Phizicky, Ph.D., dean's professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics and member of the University's Center for RNA Biology, has been elected to Fellowship in the American Academy of Microbiology (Academy). The Academy is the honorific leadership group within the American Society for Microbiology (ASM), the world's oldest and largest life science organization. The mission of the Academy is to recognize scientists for outstanding contributions to microbiology and provide microbiological expertise in the service of science and the public.

    Over the last 50 years, over 2,700 distinguished scientists have been elected to the Academy. Fellows are elected through a highly selective, annual, peer review process, based on their records of scientific achievement and original contributions that have advanced microbiology. Each elected Fellow has built an exemplary career in basic and applied research, teaching, clinical and public health, industry or government service. Academy Fellows are eminent leaders in the field of microbiology and are relied upon for authoritative advice and information on critical issues in microbiology. Election to Fellowship indicates recognition of distinction in microbiology by one's peers.

    We couldn't be more pleased that Eric has been awarded this honor and recognition for his excellence and creativity in the microbiological sciences, said Jeffrey J. Hayes, Ph.D., professor and acting chairman of the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the Medical Center. On behalf of the department, please join me in offering his well-deserved congratulations!

    Phizicky, who came to the Medical Center in 1987, has spent his career working to understand how tRNA is made and how it does its job in the cell, which is to help with the translation of genes into proteins. His lab also focuses on the design, construction and implementation of genomic methods to analyze protein structure and function, work that's conducted in collaboration with Elizabeth Grayhack, Ph.D., associate professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics.

  • January 10, 2013

    URMC Biochemistry Professor Named University of Rochester 2013 Presidential Diversity Award Recipient

    University of Rochester President Joel Seligman, with 2013 Diversity Award winners Suzanne Piotrowski (THSP), Kevin Graham (THSP), Alyssa Cannarozzo (THSP), Lynne Maquat of the Medical Center, Kim Muratore (THSP), and Vice Provost for Faculty Development & Diversity Vivian Lewis.

    Lynne Maquat, Ph.D., J. Lowell Orbison Endowed Chair & Professor, Biochemistry & Biophysics; Director, University of Rochester Center for RNA Biology: From Genome to Therapeutics; Chair, University of Rochester Graduate Women in Science, has been selected to receive one of two 2013 Presidential Diversity Awards for exemplary contributions to the University's diversity and inclusion efforts. Dr. Maquat is being honored for combining her groundbreaking research agenda with a lifelong commitment to helping women succeed in science. Her remarkable accomplishments include the networking and mentoring programs she initiated as president of the RNA Society; her creation in 2003 of the University of Rochester Graduate Women in Science (GWIS) program; and her award and renewal of an NIH training grant that supports graduate students, including underrepresented minorities, in the cellular, biochemical and molecular sciences.

    The Presidential Diversity Awards were created in 2009 by President Joel Seligman to recognize faculty, staff, students, units, departments or teams that demonstrate a commitment to diversity and inclusion through recruitment and retention efforts, teaching, research, multi-cultural programming, cultural competency, community outreach activities, or other initiatives.


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