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Professor Harold Smith Organizes Preclinical Drug Discovery Conference

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Harold Smith, Ph.D., Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics, will serve as Chair and organizer for the 5th Annual International Preclinical Drug Discovery Conference to be held November 21-23, 2019 in Boston. Dr. Smith will also speak at the conference, and several other University of Rochester students, postdocs and faculty will also participate. The link to the meeting can be found her:

Lynne Maquat Honored by International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Lynne Maquat Award


Lynne Maquat, Ph.D., the J. Lowell Orbison Endowed Chair and Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, was honored with the International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (IUBMB) Jubilee Lectureship in September. The IUBMB unites biochemists and molecular biologists in 75 countries and is devoted to promoting research and education in biochemistry and molecular biology, giving particular attention to areas where the subject is still in its early development.

The IUBMB Jubilee Lectureship was established to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the First International Congress of Biochemistry that was held in Cambridge, England in 1949, at which the initial steps were taken that led to the formation of IUBMB. Maquat gave the keynote lecture at the IUBMB Molecular Biosystems Conference in Puerto Varas, Chile on September 30 and was presented with a medal in recognition of the event.

The founding director of the University of Rochester’s Center for RNA Biology, Maquat has spent her career deciphering the many roles that RNA plays in sickness and in health. She’s an international leader in the field and is credited with several major discoveries that are informing a new generation of therapies for a wide range of genetic disorders.

Her lecture, titled “Nonsense-mediated mRNA Decay in Human Health and Disease,” described her discovery of nonsense-mediated mRNA decay or NMD and how this important surveillance system protects against mistakes in gene expression that lead to disease. She also discussed ongoing work on how misregulation of NMD in Fragile X Syndrome, the most common single gene cause of intellectual disability and autism, results in neuronal defects that typify this disorder.

Maquat Presentation


BMB Faculty Peng Yao co-organizes 2019 Rustbelt RNA Meeting

Monday, October 28, 2019

Peng Yao, Ph.D., an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine, CVRI and a member of the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Graduate Program co-organized the 2019 Rustbelt RNA Meeting with Drs. Hua Lou and Jo Ann Wise of Case Western Reserve University. The conference, with approximately 400 attendees was held on October 25th & 26th, at Case Western University and featured 25 speakers, including a workshop on "Using CRISPR-Cas13 to target and detect RNA" by Dr. Mitch O’Connell and talk or poster presentations by laboratory members from the labs of Drs. Charles Thornton, Dragony Fu, and Peng Yao. BMB Students Omar Hedaya and Feng Jiang helped design and construct the meeting booklet and organize the meeting. The meeting was supported by the University of Rochester Center for RNA Biology and the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, among 19 other departments, 10 industrial vendors, and 5 journals/societies. 

UR trainees who presented a talk or poster at the 2019 RBR Meeting

Jenna M. Lentini (graduate student from Dragony Fu lab) gave a talk and won an outstanding presentation award for graduate students.

Kejia Zhang (graduate student from Dragony Fu lab) gave a poster presentation.

Matthew Tanner (graduate student from Charles Thornton lab) gave a poster presentation.

Kadiam C Venkata Subbaiah (postdoctoral fellow from Peng Yao lab) gave a talk.

Jiangbin Wu (postdoctoral fellow from Peng Yao lab) gave a poster presentation. 

Chris Goodwin Successfully Defends His Thesis

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Hilf and Hayes


On July 29, Chris Goodwin successfully defended his thesis, “The intersection of Human Cytomegalovirus infection and innate immune signaling”, thereby obtaining his Ph.D. Chris found that the cellular IKK kinases limit the ability of Human Cytomegalovirus to initiate infection. Further, he found that the Human Cytomegalovirus UL26 protein prevents IKKB from inducing the expression of anti-viral interferon stimulated genes. Chris’ work sheds new light on the measures and counter-measures taken by viruses and host cells to try to control the outcome of infection. Chris was mentored by Joshua Munger, and was awarded the Fred Sherman Biochemistry Award, the URBest Sharing Science Video Communication Award, and the Biochemistry Student Seminar Award. Good luck as you embark on your independent career Chris!

T32 Trainee Brandon Berry Writes on Criticism and Confidence in Graduate Studies

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Brandon Berry, a Ph.D. Student in the Molecular Pharmacology and Physiology Ph.D. program, and an appointee to the NIH T32 Training Grant in Cellular, Biochemical, and Molecular Sciences, wrote an insightful essay on "Balancing Criticism and Confidence” in graduate school, which was posted on the Career Stories@URBest website. The essay can be found here:

Professor Russell Hilf Receives Recognition for 50 Years of Service to the University

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Professor Russ Hilf celebrated 50 years of service at the University of Rochester Medical Center on June 19th, 2019, by presenting an overview of his life, career and scientific accomplishments. He was also presented with a plaque commemorating his 50 years of service to the University from the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics. Dr. Hilf’s first appointment, as an Associate Professor, began July 1, 1969. 

Hilf and Hayes

Dr. Hilf receives the commemorative plaque from Jeff Hayes, Chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics.

Lynne Maquat Interviewed at the RNA Symposium at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

Monday, June 17, 2019

Harold Smith Featured on Roc NORML Radio

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

So what exactly happens inside your body when you consume Cannabis? Dr. Smith outlines the powerful role of the Endocannabinoid System in modulating human health, and discusses the future of Cannabis research and testing.

Read More: Harold Smith Featured on Roc NORML Radio

Congratulations Dalia Ghoneim for winning a Born Seekers Fellowship

Wednesday, May 8, 2019


The Born Seekers fellowship is a speech contest that is open to women in STEM. The work they do pushes boundaries and meaningfully impacts society on a local, national, and often global level. The women selected as our 2019 Born Seekers build skills in communication and leadership, serving as role models for the next generation of scientists, engineers, doctors, and STEM professionals.

Dalia Ghoneim is a PhD candidate in Genetics at the University of Rochester in Rochester, NY. She develops and contributes to software that helps us understand the structure and functions of genetic molecules, and has worked to analyze mutations in DNA from patients with severe neurological diseases like epilepsy and autism. This work was instrumental to identifying new genes that cause these diseases. Dalia takes as many opportunities as she can to share science with others by participating in outreach and advocating for inclusion in science. Outside of science, Dalia is a single mother to four wonderful children, a competitive runner, and enjoys figure drawing and learning and experiencing new things.

BMB Graduates Receive College Prizes

Thursday, May 2, 2019

2019 College Prize Recipients

  • Katherine Woo: Ayman Amin-Salem Memorial Prize
  • Fayth Kim: the Janet Howell Clark Prize
  • Nicholas Lim: Irene Bush Steinbock Award
  • Kavya Bana: Helen S. Jones Memorial Fund

31st Annual Genetics Day Symposium

Monday, April 22, 2019

The Departments of Biomedical Genetics and Biology, with the support of the University Committee for Interdisciplinary Studies, host the 31st annual Genetics Day Symposium on Thursday, April 25, from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Class of ’62 Auditorium and Flaum Atrium. This year’s Fred Sherman Lecturer will be Phillip Zamore, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and professor of biomedical sciences at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, giving a talk titled “piRNAs and the Struggle to Reproduce.”

Read More: 31st Annual Genetics Day Symposium

Byron Rubin, Ph.D., Adjunct Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, pens article in ASBMB TODAY

Monday, February 18, 2019

Dr. Rubin describes his own battle with prostate cancer, and how as a scientist how he took control of his own treatment. He also describes the impact of personalized medicine on his medical decisions and how he deals with living with cancer. Read the article.

Former Biochemistry Student Jerry Madukwe, Ph.D. travels to West Africa to Speak With Students

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Jerry with students

Jerry Madukwe, Ph.D., who received his Ph.D. in Biochemistry (2018), and is currently a postdoctoral fellow at Yale University, recently completed a 2-week science-outreach trip to West Africa. Jerry was invited by the West Africa Center for Cell Biology of Infectious Pathogens at the University of Ghana, and the Department of Life sciences at the University of Ilorin in central Nigeria to talk about the work he did as a PhD student and about graduate school in the United States. Jerry, who hails from Nigeria, and got his BS from Lee University in Tennessee, also used the opportunity to visit his former elementary school where he talked to fifth grade pupils about science (see photos), and to demonstrate DNA extraction from bananas. The kids were very excited by his visit, and Jerry found the experience very fulfilling.

Jerry in front of school

Jerry with students 2