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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

Chavali, Couch, DeZoysa and Hao Win Sayeeda Zain Travel Award

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

The department is pleased to announce the winners of the Sayeeda Zain Fall Travel awards: Shashank Chavali, Tyler Couch, Meemanage Dudarshika DeZoysa and Fanfan Hao.

The Sayeeda Zain Travel Award honors the distinguished career and charitable life of Dr. Sayeeda Zain. The award is given in recognition of research excellence to support travel and related expenses associated with attendance at a scientific conference or corporate internship to gain practical experience. The next round of Sayeeda Zain Travel Awards will be offered in Spring 2019.

 

Thank you to all those who applied and congratulations to Shashank, Tyler, Dudarshika and Fanfan!

 

Professor Harold Smith, Ph.D. appears on Evan Dawson Radio Program

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Harold C. Smith was a guest along with Bob Duffy (CEO of the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce), Jason Klimek (attorney with Boylan Code), Zachary Sarkis (co-founder of Flower City Solutions) and Jacob Fox (founder of Closed Loop Systems) on WXXI Connections with Evan Dawson on 11/21/2018 to address the opportunities and questions surround the emerging hemp industry in Up State NY.  (listen to Hemp101http://www.wxxinews.org/programs/connections?page=1&ajax=1)

Dr. Smith spoke regarding the future of labeling and dosing of THC-free and THC-containing products relative to what we understanding from scientific and clinical research. Having founded CannaMetrix, LLC, a New York based company, Dr. Smith seeks to establish through patent pending, cell-based assays, to raise the standards for product development and quality control so as to better information patient choices of products containing full spectrum plant cannabinoids or synthetic cannabinoids and advance medicinal use of cannabis.

Wedekind Co-Organizes Nucleic Acids Session at American Crystallographic Association Annual Meeting in Toronto

Friday, November 9, 2018

ACA Meeting

Highlights of Session 1.1.2 on Nucleic Acid were reported in ACA RefleXions Fall 2018 and provided many new insights into the form and function of nucleic acids and was co-organized by Dr. Joseph Wedekind and Dr. Rui Zhao. Dr. Wen Zhang of Harvard University presented mechanistic studies of non-enzymatic RNA polymerization using custom phosphoramidites with imidazole leaving groups that were caught in the act of catalysis by crystallographic snapshots. This work has implications for catalysis in a pre-biotic RNA world. Sun Cheol Park from Kangwon National University, Korea described DNA recognition by the PadR repressor. Binding of phenolic acid blocks DNA binding to relieve PadR repression, activating downstream detoxification genes. Dr. Yun-Xing Wang from NIH/NCI described use of an X-ray free electron laser to capture conformational changes of the adenine riboswitch during effector binding, providing insights into RNA-mediated translational regulation.

Prof. Clara Kielkopf from the University of Rochester described progress to decode the basis of 3´-splice site recognition of pre-mRNA by U2AF proteins, including polypyrimidine tract recognition and binding to degenerate splice-sites. The work has implications for correction of splicing defects found in human diseases. Dr. Eric Montemayor from the University of Wisconsin described later steps of pre-mRNA splicing, including a model for U6 snRNA remodeling by contacts to the Lsm2-8 ring protein and the Prp24 chaperone. Dr. Soumya Remesh from the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab used small angle scattering and soft X-ray tomography to reveal how small molecules interact with the abundant HU protein to alter DNA supercoiling. The work has implications for controlling bacterial gene expression. The session was anchored by Dr. Ailong Ke of Cornell University who presented structural snapshots that contribute a novel mechanistic framework to describe how bacterial type II-A CRISPR systems create new molecular memories of short, foreign ‘spacer’ DNAs that invade bacterial cells.

Dumont Receives 2018 Outstanding Graduate Student Teacher Award

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

kielkopf lab door

 

Biochemistry professor Mark Dumont, Ph.D. is the recipient of the 2018 Outstanding Graduate Student Teacher Award. Established in 2013, this award is given to an outstanding graduate student teacher for record of excellence in classroom instruction. Mark was nominated by graduate students Brandon Davis, Ashwin Kumar and Matthew Raymonda.

This award was presented at the School of Medicine and Dentistry Convocation Ceremony, September 6, 2018.

The department would like to extend congratulations to Mark on this well- deserved honor.

Kielkopf Lab Wins Annual Halloween Door Contest

Thursday, November 1, 2018

The department would like to thank all that participated in the BCBP Halloween Door Contest this year!

This year the winner is…

The Kielkopf Lab!!

Tied for second place are the Ermolenko Lab and the Grossfield Lab! Congratulations to everyone – the doors looked awesome!

kielkopf lab door

Maquat Inducted into National Academy of Medicine

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Maquat

Lynne Maquat, PhD, was inducted into the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) on Saturday October 13th in Washington, DC. Here, she is receiving her diploma and congratulations from Victor Dzau, MD, President of NAM after being introduced by J. Michael McGinnis, MD, the Executive Officer of NAM.

Clara L. Kielkopf, Ph.D. Receives Drug Development Grant From UR Ventures For Research To Cure Myelodysplastic Syndromes

Thursday, October 18, 2018

U2AF2

Myelodysplastic Syndromes (MDS) are a group of diverse bone marrow disorders, in which the bone marrow does not produce enough healthy blood cells. MDS is often referred to as a “bone marrow failure disorder.”

Congratulations, Clara and her lab!

Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics Loans Famous Statue to University of Rochester’s Laboratory of Laser Energetics

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

The Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics has loaned a statue of J. Robert Oppenheimer and Albert Einstein to the Laboratory of Laser Energetics. The sculpture was commissioned by the Department of Radiation Biology and Biophysics (William Neuman and Aser Rothstein co-chairs) in October of 1968 and was crafted by Achille Forgione, a notable Rochester artist. The work was in place by the fall of 1970, originally at the entrance to the OO wing, then moved to the Blair Library (no longer in existence). The statue has been in the back of the Neuman Room for many years. It is now displayed prominently in the LLE lobby. An engraved plate will be placed next to the statue, reading: "Albert Einstein, J. Robert Oppenheimer, Statue commissioned by Dr. William "Bill” Newman, On loan from the University of Rochester’s Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics"

For more information on Dr. Neuman and his work please visit our department featured alumni page.

Neuman statue

 

Wedekind Lab Co-Crystal Structure of HIV RNA in complex with a Lab-Evolved Protein on the Cover of Nucleic Acids Research

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Nucleic Acid Cover

Co-crystal structure of HIV trans-activation response (TAR) RNA (rainbow ribbon) in complex with lab-evolved protein, TBP6.7 (blue Cα ribbon). A short peptide (pink) binds TAR outside the context of TBP6.7. (art by Joseph Wedekind). The underlying electron micrograph shows HIV virions (CDC image #13472 by Maureen Metcalfe and Tom Hodge).

Nucleic Acids Research Breakthrough article describes structure of HIV TAR complex with engineered binding protein and structure-based synthesis of antagonist

Investigators at multiple research institutes, led by Dr. Joseph Wedekind (University of Rochester) have described the high resolution crystal structure of a laboratory-evolved protein bound to its tightly associated HIV TAR RNA target, and subsequent synthesis and characterization of a stapled peptide mimic of the predominant RNA binding epitope in that protein. The study provided a detailed framework for peptide-mediated TAR recognition that might be generally applicable to target other disease-relevant RNAs.

HIV/AIDS is a global health threat that requires new insights into viral targets, especially those that resist mutation and promote novel aspects of the viral life cycle. In these respects, the HIV-1 trans-activation response (TAR) RNA is of ongoing interest. Previously, investigators (including some from this author group) developed methods to produce a unique lab-evolved protein (‘TBP6.7’) that recognizes TAR with extraordinarily high affinity compared to known TAR binders [Crawford et al. McNaughton (2016) ACS Chem. Biol. 8, 2206]. However, the molecular determinants of TAR recognition remained obscure, thus limiting the investigators’ ability to further exploit that discovery. The crystal structure of this complex allowed investigators to determine that only a subset of the ‘evolved’ protein sequences are actually involved in RNA binding, with the preponderance of interactions localized to a short β-hairpin. This observation led them to synthesize a short, stapled peptide that mimics the β-hairpin and attenuates TAR-dependent transcription in HeLa nuclear lysate.

The study reported here [Belashov et al. Wedekind (2018) Nucleic Acids Res. 46, 6401-6415] is highly multi-disciplinary, spanning crystallography, site-directed mutagenesis, calorimetry, cell-surface display, ELISA, transcription assays, molecular dynamics simulations, and constrained peptide synthesis. In the end, the conversion of the parental RNA binding protein from single- to double-stranded RNA recognition implies that the protein has sufficient plasticity to recognize numerous RNA folds.

Reviewers and editors familiar with the work have stated that the study is “a strong contribution to a difficult field” that “will have substantial impact in the field of RNA recognition, ranging from applied (specifically targeting therapeutically relevant RNAs) to basic (understanding how RRMs bind to specific RNAs in the cell)”

The Wedekind laboratory at the University of Rochester investigates the mechanisms of action of non-protein-coding (nc)RNAs, and is interested especially in the three-dimensional architectures of these RNAs and how they bind to specific small molecules or peptides, leading to conformations that alter biological function. The research was supported by the University of Rochester Center for AIDS Research, and the National Institutes of Health.

Biochemistry & Biophysics Students Going Places

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

By Dr. Joseph Wedekind

The Department of Biochemistry & Biophysics is pleased to announce the winners of the Sayeeda Zain Fall Travel awards: Debapratim Dutta, Sierra Fox and Hong Zhu.

The Sayeeda Zain Travel Award honors the distinguished career and charitable life of Dr. Sayeeda Zain. The award is given in recognition of research excellence to support travel and related expenses associated with attendance at a scientific conference or corporate internship to gain practical experience.

Debapratim (Dave) Dutta is presenting a poster and was invited to give a talk at the Annual RNA Society Meeting (Berkeley, CA). Sierra Fox presented a poster and was a Keystone Symposia Future of Science Fund Scholarship recipient at the Keystone Symposia in Chromatin Architecture and Chromatin Organization, and Gene Control in Development and Disease Symposia (Whistler, BC, Canada). Hong Zhu presented a poster at the III International Conference on Vaccines Research and Development (Washington, DC).

Debapratim (Dave) Dutta

Debapratim (Dave) Dutta

Sierra Fox

Sierra Fox

Hong Zhu

Hong Zhu

Congratulations to the 2018 Biochemistry Graduates!

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

students at commencement

Pictured are Anne Cheng, Venice Magunga, and Anmol Almast following the Arts, Sciences & Engineering commencement ceremony Sunday. Photo reproduced from 5-21-18 issue of @Rochester

The Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics congratulates the 20 young men and women who received their B.S. in Biochemistry this weekend. We look forward to their continued success in their future training and careers! In addition to the University-wide celebration, these graduates received their diplomas at a ceremony in The Class of ’62 Auditorium, attended by their families, friends, and faculty from the many departments involved in their training. The ceremony was officiated by Beth Grayhack, Ph.D., Director of the Undergraduate Program (Biochemistry and Biophysics), and was enriched by addresses from Sina Ghaemmaghami, Ph.D. (Biology) and Mark Dumont (Biochemistry and Biophysics).

Biochemistry and Biophysics Holds Annual Department Awards Ceremony

Sunday, May 20, 2018

On Friday May, 18th the department held it's annual awards ceremony in the Neuman Room. At the event this year the following awards were awarded to our current B&B graduate students:

  • Bloor Award - Christina Brule and Lu Han
  • Metzger Award - Karl J. P. Smith
  • Sherman Award – Bronwyn Lucas
  • Neuman Award – Chapin Cavender
  • Grossfield Award – Sreyoshi Sur (talk), Lauren Benoodt (poster)
  • Student Seminar Award – Fall: Bronwyn Lucas (BMB), Leslie Salas-Estrada (BSCB)
    Spring: Viktoriya Anokhina (BMB), Daniel Steiner (BSCB)
  • Hooker Award – Dudarshika DeZoysa (BMB), Christina Lai (BMB)
  • Goodman Fellowship (3rd place for the Messersmith Award) – Leslie Salas-Estrada
  • Faculty Award – Mark Dumont (BMB), Alan Grossfield (BSCB)
  • Zain Award – Christine Lai, Lingfeng Luo, Louis Smith

Congratulations to all the winners and our 2018 graduates!

View photos from the event.

A Hidden Promise in the Language Cells Use to Communicate

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Scientists have begun to implicate extracellular vesicles and exosomes in everything from cancer to viral infections to basic neural functioning. To Lynne Maquat, the J. Lowell Orbison Distinguished Service Alumni Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, the process shows how parts of the genome we used to think of as junk actually have important functions. “You could say that the host domesticated a viral sequence for its own purposes,” Maquat says. “That’s the beauty of our complexity—[these elements] allow tinkering or fine-tuning of genes.”

Read More: A Hidden Promise in the Language Cells Use to Communicate

Latest Rochester Medicine Explores the 'Spirit and Science' of Lynne Maquat

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

maquat

The magazine's new issue, now in an interactive, flip-book format, highlights the investigative work of the J. Lowell Orbison Endowed Chair, as well as the impressive efforts of our medical students, alumni and faculty—past and present.

Read More: Latest Rochester Medicine Explores the 'Spirit and Science' of Lynne Maquat

Maquat Wins the 2018 FASEB Excellence in Science Award

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Lynne Maquat, PhD, received the 2018 Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) Excellence in Science Award during the Experimental Biology 2018 meeting in San Diego, hosted by the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB). The award recognizes women whose outstanding career achievements in biological science have contributed significantly to the understanding of a particular discipline through scientific achievements, training of students and postdoctoral fellows, and contributions to the broader scientific community. Maquat is best known for unraveling RNA’s role in sickness and in health and for advocating for young women in the sciences. View Dr. Maquat’s award interview on ASBMB’s interviews page.

Read more: Maquat celebrated for her service and scientific achievements
Read more: Unraveling RNA and Stereotypes: Q&A with award-Winning Scientist Lynne Maquat

Looking to RNA for Answers

Friday, March 23, 2018

Cancer is a group of diseases in which the body’s cells divide uncontrollably and invade nearby tissues. Scientists at Wilmot Cancer Institute and the University of Rochester’s Center for RNA Biology are working to understand more about how and why this happens.

One piece of the puzzle they’re studying is ribonucleic acid, or RNA, which is found in all cells. RNA is made in the nucleus of a cell from our DNA, which holds the instruction manual for life. RNA puts those instructions into action.

RNA comes in many forms. One form, called messenger RNA (mRNA), carries those instructions out of the nucleus to the ribosomes, where proteins are made. These proteins are essential for functions ranging from digestion to protecting us from disease. If the mRNA has a bad copy of instructions, then either a faulty protein or no protein is created, leading to diseases like cancer.

Understanding the quality-control system

Lynne E. Maquat, Ph.D., director of the Center for RNA Biology, studies a quality control process that blocks cells from making faulty proteins. Called nonsense-mediated mRNA decay (NMD), this process comes into play when mRNA has a set of instructions with a mistake that will lead to short or incomplete proteins. NMD acts like a set of factory inspectors that find and destroy this mRNA before the faulty proteins can be made.

Sometimes, though, NMD doesn’t catch the mistakes and harmful proteins are made. This process plays a part in one-third of all inherited diseases, such as cystic fibrosis and muscular dystrophy, and one-third of all acquired diseases, including a number of cancers.

One reason is that tumors can influence how these inspectors work. Maquat and her team are looking for ways to stop tumors from interfering with NMD with the goal of finding new ways to treat cancer.

Slowing cancer’s growth

A team from Maquat’s lab has also identified a protein called Tudor-SN that is important as cells prepare to divide. This protein controls many microRNAs, molecules that are very small RNAs that control the expression of tens of thousands of genes.

The scientists found that when Tudor-SN is removed from human cells, levels of hundreds of microRNAs go up, putting the brakes on genes that encourage cell growth. This slows down the process of cell division known as the cell cycle, which goes awry in cancer.

Maquat and Reyad A. Elbarbary, Ph.D., a former post-doctoral fellow in Maquat’s lab, have filed a patent application for methods that target Tudor-SN for the treatment and prevention of cancer. They continue to study how Tudor-SN works in concert with other molecules and proteins so that scientists can identify the most appropriate drugs to target it.

Other avenues

Scientists at the Center for RNA Biology are also looking at RNA’s other roles in cancer to find new treatment strategies. For example, Mitchell O’Connell, Ph.D., is studying how microRNAs can interfere with the way genes are expressed and lead to cancer. He and his team are using the gene-editing technology known as CRISPR, which he has adapted to edit RNA, to learn more about the proteins involved in this process.

Yi-Tao Yu, Ph.D., and his team are studying various ways to modify mRNA so that it can override mistakes in genetic instructions. Sometimes there’s a premature stop signal that orders a cell to stop reading the genetic instructions in mRNA partway through the process, resulting in an incomplete protein. The Yu lab is working to alter mRNA in ways that turn “stop” signals into “go” signals, creating full length proteins and preventing diseases like cancer. 

The study of RNA biology is allowing scientists and physicians to explore entirely new treatment strategies for cancer and a wide range of other genetic and acquired disorders.

Learn more about the work being done at the Center for RNA Biology.

By Lydia Fernandez

Read More: Looking to RNA for Answers

Maquat Wins 17th Annual Wiley Prize in Biomedical Sciences

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The Wiley Foundation today announced the 17th annual Wiley Prize in Biomedical Sciences will be awarded to Lynne E. Maquat for elucidating the mechanism of nonsense-mediated messenger RNA decay, a fundamental process whereby cells remove defective transcripts that can encode toxic proteins.

Dr. Maquat is a Professor at the Department of Biochemistry & Biophysics in the School of Medicine and Dentistry, the Founding Director of the Center for RNA Biology: From Genome to Therapeutics, the Founding Chair of the University of Rochester Graduate Women in Science, and the J. Lowell Orbison Endowed Chair at the University of Rochester in Rochester, New York.

“The 2018 Wiley Prize honors Dr. Maquat, whose work illuminated how our cells prevent production of toxic proteins by removing defective messenger RNAs," said Dr. Titia de Lange, chairperson of the awards jury for the Wiley Prize at the Rockefeller University in New York City.

“The Wiley Foundation honors research that champions novel approaches and challenges accepted thinking in the biomedical sciences. The work of the 2018 Wiley Prize recipient Lynne Maquat truly upholds this mission,” said Deborah Wiley, Chair of the Wiley Foundation. “We are pleased to highlight the impact that her research on messenger RNA decay pathways has had in advancing our knowledge of the cellular cause of many human diseases.”

Read More: Maquat Wins 17th Annual Wiley Prize in Biomedical Sciences

New Issue of Opportunities to Explore - February 12-16, 2018

Friday, February 9, 2018

This week there is a workshop on Navigating a career fair/expo, the PDA monthly meeting, a career expo on river campus and workshops from Future Faculty, CIRTL and GWIS. The week ends with a PONS luncheon and a Thinkers and Drinkers meeting

Looking further ahead, Stephen Tajc provides a look at his career in URBEST's series. Workshops on job descriptions and handling difficult conversations are available and CIRTL provides several events throughout the month. All this and more in the latest issue of OTE!

Latest Issue of Opportunities to Explore - February 12-16, 2018

Dutta, Fox, and Zhu Win Sayeeda Zain Travel Award

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

The department is pleased to announce the winners of the Sayeeda Zain Fall Travel awards: Debapratim Dutta, Sierra Fox and Hong Zhu.

The Sayeeda Zain Travel Award honors the distinguished career and charitable life of Dr. Sayeeda Zain. The award is given in recognition of research excellence to support travel and related expenses associated with attendance at a scientific conference or corporate internship to gain practical experience. The next round of Sayeeda Zain Travel Awards will be offered in Spring 2018.

Thank you to all those who applied and congratulations to Dave, Sierra and Hong!

Lynne Maquat Wins Vanderbilt Prize in Biomedical Science

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

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 is the recipient of the 2017 Vanderbilt Prize in Biomedical Science. Established by Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in 2006, the competitive prize honors women scientists with a “stellar record” of research accomplishments who have made significant contributions to mentoring other women in science.

Maquat is internationally known for a huge body of research that describes what goes wrong in our cells during disease. The founding director of the University of Rochester’s Center for RNA Biology, she has spent her career deciphering the many roles that RNA plays in sickness and in health.

She’s dedicated a great deal of time to helping women advance in scientific careers and in 2003 established the University of Rochester Graduate Women in Science program. Through monthly round-table discussions with high-profile speakers who are using advanced degrees in traditional and non-traditional ways, the program seeks to broaden awareness of what women can do with a Ph.D. Program members can apply for travel awards to attend conferences, seminars or other external events that will help them advance their careers.

Maquat, also a professor in the Wilmot Cancer Institute, is the recipient of other prestigious honors, including the Canada Gairdner International Award; the International RNA Society’s Lifetime Achievement Awards in Service and in Science; the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) Excellence in Science Award; the Rochester ATHENA Award®; and election to the National Academy of Medicine, the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Maquat is the 12th recipient of the Vanderbilt Prize in Biomedical Science and will receive the prize on November 29, 2018, when she is scheduled to give a Flexner Discovery Lecture. She will also meet with Vanderbilt faculty and mentor Vanderbilt Prize Scholars, women who are pursuing graduate studies in the biomedical sciences in the School of Medicine.

“We are thrilled that Dr. Maquat is being recognized for her pioneering work in RNA biology, which has catalyzed innovative areas of research and provided insight to the role of RNA regulation in human disease,” said Jennifer Pietenpol, Ph.D., Vanderbilt University Medical Center Executive Vice President for Research and director of the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center. “She is a world-renowned scientist and an exceptional mentor, a role model for us all.”

Read More: Lynne Maquat Wins Vanderbilt Prize in Biomedical Science

New Issue of Opportunities to Explore – November 27-December 1, 2017

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The latest issue of Opportunities to Explore is out!

Deadline for the Teaching-as-Research (TAR) Fellowship and is Friday, December 1, 2017.

Check out the CPD’s Lending Library catalog to see free professional development books and resources you can sign out and utilize. To borrow a book, stop by our office in G-9627 or email us with your request.

New Issue of Opportunities to Explore – November 27-December 1, 2017

Lynne Maquat Delivers Harvey Society Lecture at Rockefeller University

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Maquat Photo

Lynne E. Maquat, Ph.D., the J. Lowell Orbison Endowed Chair and Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics and Director of the Center for RNA Biology gave a Harvey Society Lecture on October 19 at The Rockefeller University in New York City. The lecture series is one of the most prestigious in the country and the lecturers, who are selected by the Harvey Society's leadership council, are leading biomedical researchers from around the world.

Maquat discussed her career path and the discovery of nonsense-mediated mRNA decay (NMD), which she first described for humans in 1981. NMD is a cellular quality control mechanism that derails the production of unwanted proteins in the body that can disrupt normal processes and initiate disease. Maquat is known around the world for her work on NMD, which is critically important in both normal and disease states. UR President Joel Seligman and URMC CEO and SMD Dean Mark Taubman attended the lecture.

Founded in 1905, the Harvey Society sponsors seven lectures annually that are open to the public and are attended by hundreds of scientists from New York City and the surrounding areas. The Harvey Lectures are one of the great traditions in New York science and they are a place where scientists from different institutions meet regularly.

New Issue of Opportunities to Explore - October 30-November 3, 2017

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The latest issue of Opportunities to Explore is out!

Interested in learning more about employment within industry? Kurt Schilling, PhD will be here to share his career story and discuss what he does as senior vice-president of Basic Research and Advanced Technologies at The Estée Launders Companies, Inc.

Applications are now open for the Teaching-as-Research (TAR) Fellowship and will be accepted until Friday, December 1, 2017.

Opportunities to Explore - October 30th - November 3rd

New Issue of Opportunities to Explore

Monday, October 23, 2017

The latest issue of Opportunities to Explore is out!

This week there are many career related resources including a CV writing workshop and a job search support group

Later on this month there are events about negotiation, health insurance for postdocs, and online and virtual career fairs. All this and more can be found inside!

Opportunities to Explore - October 23rd - October 27th

New Issue of Opportunities to Explore - October 16-20, 2017

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Week of Undergraduate research day is here! But before you get to that always awesome event on Friday, make sure you check out the other events happening this week and fill up your calendar with all the other things we have planned, by taking a look at the latest issue of Opportunities to Explore!

Opportunities to Explore - October 16th - October 20th

URMC Scientist Lynne Maquat Elected to National Academy of Medicine

Monday, October 16, 2017

Lynne E. Maquat, Ph.D., an internationally recognized researcher who studies what happens in our cells during disease, has been elected to the National Academy of Medicine. The honor is akin to an actor receiving an Emmy for an outstanding performance; current members of the Academy elected Maquat for her exceptional research in the field of RNA biology. The accolade places her amongst an elite group of scientists and physicians who have made significant contributions to health and medicine.

In studying RNA, a close cousin to DNA, Maquat has discovered intricate cellular processes that influence normal genes, as well as genes involved in a wide range of diseases. Her findings are leading to the development of new treatment approaches for everything from cancer and heart disease, to intellectual and developmental disabilities and other neurologic disorders.

“Lynne is at the forefront of a movement to transform our increasing understanding of RNA biology into promising therapies for virtually all disease processes,” said Mark B. Taubman, M.D., CEO of the University of Rochester Medical Center and Dean of the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. “She is an incredible asset to the University and will undoubtedly bring a wealth of valuable experience and knowledge to the National Academy of Medicine.”

Formerly called the Institute of Medicine, the National Academy of Medicine is an independent organization of professionals from diverse fields that advises the nation and the international community on issues in health, medicine and related policy. For example, in 2016 the Academy released a report calling for more and better research into ovarian cancer, one of the deadliest cancers, and recently issued a report detailing how physicians can help combat America’s opioid crisis.

The J. Lowell Orbison Endowed Chair and Professor of Biochemistry & Biophysics and of Oncology at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, Maquat is also an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Sciences. She was the first individual from upstate New York to receive the prestigious Canada International Gairdner Award, the country’s top award for excellence in biomedical research, which she won in 2015.

The National Institutes of Health has continuously funded Maquat’s research for the past 34 years and she’s published more than 150 papers and reviews. She is the founding director of the University of Rochester Center for RNA Biology and founding chair of the Graduate Women in Science program. She’s committed countless hours to mentoring the next generation of researchers and advocating for young women in the sciences.

When she is formally inducted into the National Academy of Medicine in October 2018, Maquat will join four other active Rochester faculty members: Seymour I. Schwartz in the Department of Surgery: Elizabeth R. McAnarney in Pediatrics; Paul S. Frame in Family Medicine; and Robert C. Griggs in Neurology.

Read More: URMC Scientist Lynne Maquat Elected to National Academy of Medicine

New Issue of Opportunities to Explore - October 9-13, 2017

Friday, October 6, 2017

The latest Opportunities to Explore are available! Feel free to browse the numerous events we have coming up for Graduate Students and Postdocs...

October 9-13 Issue of Opportunities To Explore

Department Holds Annual Picnic

Monday, October 2, 2017

On September 15, the department held its annual picnic at Genesee Valey Park. The day was fantastic, with food, friends and kickball! View the Photos of the event.

Read More: Department Holds Annual Picnic

New Issue of Opportunities to Explore - October 2-6, 2017

Friday, September 29, 2017

The latest Opportunities to Explore are available! Feel free to browse the numerous events we have coming up for Graduate Students and Postdocs...

October 2-6 Issue of Opportunities To Explore

Hilf Article in Analytical Biochemistry Read Over 1000 Times

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Congratulations to Biochemistry & Biophysics Professor Russell Hilf, Ph.D., as his paper, Fluorimetric method for determination of oxidized and reduced glutathione in tissues, has been read over 1,000 times and cited over 3100 times!

Biochemistry & Biophysics students Mukta Palshikar, Erica VanderWal, and Brandon Davis receive awards at UR School of Medicine Opening Convocation

Friday, September 22, 2017

Congratulations to first year students who received awards at the SMD Opening Convocation on September 12, 2017.

Mutka Palshikar, a first year student in the Biophysics, Structural and Computational Biology program won the Graduate Alumni Fellowship, which recognizes an incoming student with promise for exceptional accomplishment in graduate study.

Arica VanderWal, a first year student in the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology program was awarded the Elmer Stotz Fellowship in Biochemistry, which recognizes the meritorious academic and research accomplishments of an incoming graduate student in the BMB program.

Brandon Davis, an incoming student in the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology program, was a recipient of a Robert L. and Mary L. Sproull University Fellowship, which recognizes the exceptional academic record and research talent of selected students in the first year class University-wide.

Congratulations again to Mutka, Arica, and Brandon!

Palshikar

Mutka Palshikar

VanderWal

Arica VanderWal

Davis

Brandon Davis

New Issue of Opportunities to Explore - September 25-29, 2017

Friday, September 22, 2017

The newest issue of Opportunities to explore is out!

As we head into Fall, we have the following items in this issue(and these events are just THIS Week!)

  • New UR BEST Career Story and Workshop
  • New Career events on entrepreneurship and recruitment
  • 7th Annual Bioethics lecture

...and so much more!

Read About The Latest Opportunities To Explore

The CARE Network

Friday, September 8, 2017

The CARE Network, a program that helps support students in distress, is now available for SMD graduate students. Students, faculty and staff are encouraged to submit a referral to the CARE Network if they believe that a student is in or headed towards distress, are aware of an act of discrimination on campus, or have a general concern for a student. The CARE Network provides recommendations to campus and community resources, outlets for safe spaces, and coaches on communication skills to work through difficult discussions and situations. You can submit a referral and/or learn more about the CARE Network at www.rochester.edu/CARE.Read More: The CARE Network

Dumont Selected as the 2017 Recipient of the Graduate Student Society Advocacy Award

Monday, August 28, 2017

Biochemistry professor Mark Dumont, Ph.D. has been selected as the 2017 recipient of the Graduate Student Society Advocacy Award. This award, established in 1994 by the Graduate Student Society (GSS), is bestowed annually to recognize a faculty member in the School of Medicine and Dentistry who has made significant contributions in promoting excellence in graduate education through participation, facilitation, and promotion of GSS goals and events. The faculty member may be nominated by any SMD student, and is chosen by a GSS Executive Board vote.

The award will be presented at the School of Medicine and Dentistry Convocation Ceremony on Tuesday, September 12th at 4:00pm in the Class of 1962 Auditorium.

The department would like to extend congratulations to Mark on this recognition, as it is a well-deserved honor.

Maquat Honored with FASEB Award, Featured on People Behind the Science Podcast

Friday, August 25, 2017

Maquat Photo

Dr. Lynne Maquat, J. Lowell Orbison Endowed Chair and Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics in the School of Medicine and Dentistry, Director of the Center for RNA Biology, and Chair of Graduate Women in Science at the University of Rochester was recently featured on the podcast, People Behind the Science.

Lynne discusses her mentors and career milestones, and offers advice to junior scientists. Maquat recently received the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology's Excellence in Science Award, which recognizes women who have made outstanding contributions to science through research discoveries and by training the next generation of scientists.

The entire interview can be listened to for free on iTunes.

Read More: Maquat Honored with FASEB Award, Featured on People Behind the Science Podcast

Russ Hilf listed among life-long ASBMB Members

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Russell Hilf Photo

Dr. Russell Hilf

Russel Hilf, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus in Biochemistry and Biophysics, was listed among American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology members with at least 50 years of membership.

The ASBMB is a nonprofit scientific and educational organization with over 12,000 members, founded in 1906. The Society's mission is to advance the science of biochemistry and molecular biology and to promote the understanding of the molecular nature of life processes. Congratulations Russ!

Biochemistry Graduate Students Sierra Fox and Chris Goodwin Explain CRISPR Gene Editing on YouTube

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Fox, Goodwin Photo

From left: Sierra Fox and Christopher Goodwin

UR Science ROCs: What's CRISPR?

It’s no secret: URMC is home to extraordinary scientific innovations and research.

Our UR Broadening Experiences in Scientific Training (URBEST) program and our Public Relations and Communications office teamed up to offer our students and trainees the chance to highlight our research through original visuals and videos. Four videos earned prizes for their unique science storytelling and will be featured on our intranet site and the UR Medicine Facebook page throughout the month in an ongoing series called "UR Science ROCs."

What is CRISPR?

Fourth-year graduate students Chris Goodwin and Sierra Fox, and third-year graduate student Nick Nobiletti, talk about CRISPR and how it’s helping scientists edit DNA.

Goodwin is a student in the lab of Joshua Munger, Ph.D.(Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics); Fox is a student in the lab of Michael Bulger, Ph.D.(Departments of Biochemistry and Biophysics and Pediatrics); and Nobiletti is a student in the lab of Angela Glading, Ph.D. (Department of Pharmacology and Physiology).

Payea and Mishra are Inaugural Recipients of the Sayeeda Zain Travel Award

Friday, July 14, 2017

The department of Biochemistry and Biophysics recently presented to the inaugural Sayeeda Zain Travel Award to Mathew Payea and Laxmi Narayan Mishra.

Matthew Payea is a 6th year graduate student in the Biochemistry Ph.D. program studying tRNA biology in laboratory of Eric Phizicky. Matthew received his Bachelors in Science from Eastern Illinois University, majoring in Biochemistry. Matthew used the funding provided by the Sayeeda Zain Travel Award to attend the 22nd annual meeting of the RNA Society in Prague, Czech Republic this past June. There, he gave a talk on his research defining an RNA decay pathway in yeast that destroys mutant tRNAs.

Laxmi Narayan Mishra is a postdoctoral associate working in Dr. Jeffrey J Hayes’ Lab in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, University of Rochester Medical Center. He has a Masters degree from University of North Bengal, Darjeeling, India and a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, Bangalore, India. His research is focused on how epigenetic modifications alter chromosome structure to facilitate gene expression. His Dr. Mishra will use the Sayeeda Zain Travel Award to attend and present his research findings at the international EMBO conference on “The Nucleosomes: From Atoms to Genomes” at Heidelberg, Germany, in August 2017.

The Sayeeda Zain Travel Award is given semi-annually to one or more graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. The award honors the life and achievements of Professor Sayeed Zain, Ph.D., a longtime faculty member in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics. Learn more about the award and Dr. Zain.

Matt

Matthew Payea (left) with Dr. Jeffrey Hayes

Laxmi

Laxmi Narayan Mishra (left) with Dr. Jeffrey Hayes

Budding UR Scientists and Science Communicators

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Contest Video InfographicEmily Boynton and Molly Miles from URMC’s Department of Public Relations and Communications met with a small group of URBEST trainees to discuss how the Medical Center and other academic institutions are sharing science in the social world we live in. They provided some examples of different types of visuals and videos that get great engagement on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites. The goal?  URBEST and The Public Relations and Communications team wanted to find and offer prizes for three original visuals or videos from students and trainees that highlight UR innovation and research. Money, video packs and fame!

First prize was awarded to a team of scientists: Chris Goodwin and Sierra Fox from Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and their camera man Nicholas Nobiletti from Pharmacology and Physiology for What Is CRISPR? They split $750 of prize money.

Read More: Budding UR Scientists and Science Communicators

Jeffrey Hayes Helps Increase Our Understanding of DNA's Path Into Cells

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Scientists are a step closer to understanding how DNA, the molecules that carry all of our genetic information, is squeezed into every cell in the body. How DNA is “packaged” in cells influences the activity of our genes and our risk for disease. Elucidating this process will help researchers in all areas of health care, from cancer and heart disease, to muscular dystrophy and osteoarthritis.Woman packing lots of clothes into a small suitcase

DNA is a long, floppy molecule, and there’s more than three feet of it in every cell. Our DNA is housed in structures called chromosomes, which condense the DNA to fit into the cell’s tight quarters.

Scientists from the department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry worked with colleagues in France and Japan to describe the first step of DNA packing in a cell. They provided the first-ever detailed picture of the most basic building block of chromosomes, known as the nucleosome, and found that a protein known as H1 (for linker histone H1) helps DNA become more compact and rigid within the nucleosome. In contrast, when H1 isn’t present, the DNA is loose and flexible.

The tight structure that H1 creates helps shield our DNA from various factors that can activate or “turn on” certain genes. Without H1, DNA is more accessible to factors that could trigger disease-causing genes.

Published in the journal Molecular Cell, this finding will inform research on all processes that involve chromosomes, such as gene expression and DNA repair, which are critical to the understanding of diseases such as cancer, according to Jeffrey J. Hayes, Ph.D., senior study author and the Shohei Koide Professor and chair of the department of Biochemistry and Biophysics.Amber Cutter

The teams in France and Japan used specialized microscopes and X-rays to capture pictures of DNA molecules interacting with H1 and other key proteins. Because of the size of the DNA and protein molecules, the pictures generated by these techniques were fuzzy and difficult to analyze.

Lead study author Amber Cutter, a graduate student in Hayes’ lab, put all of the components – DNA, H1, and other proteins – together in tiny test tubes and conducted various biochemical experiments. Her tests, coupled with the X-ray images, confirmed H1’s role.  

Cutter (pictured at right), who is entering her fifth year in Hayes’ lab, admits that the science is complex and that a lot more research needs to be done before this work can inform clinical treatment. But, the importance of understanding the most basic biological processes should not be underestimated. “In order to determine what happens when things go wrong in diseases like cancer, we need to know what happens when things go right.”

Hayes and Cutters' work was supported by the National Institutes of Health.

# # #

The University of Rochester Medical Center is home to approximately 3,000 individuals who conduct research on everything from cancer and heart disease to Parkinson’s, pandemic influenza and autism. Spread across many centers, institutes and labs, our scientists have developed therapies that have improved human health locally, in the region and across the globe. To learn more, visit www.urmc.rochester.edu/research.

Read More: Jeffrey Hayes Helps Increase Our Understanding of DNA's Path Into Cells

Study: A New Way to Slow Cancer Cell Growth

Friday, May 26, 2017

cells divide

Cells grow and divide during the cell cycle

Cancer is an extremely complex disease, but its definition is quite simple: the abnormal and uncontrollable growth of cells. Researchers from the University of Rochester’s Center for RNA Biology have identified a new way to potentially slow the fast-growing cells that characterize all types of cancer. The findings, reported today in the journal Science and funded by the National Institutes of Health, were made in kidney and cervical cancer cells in the laboratory and are a long way from being applied in people. But, they could be the basis of a treatment option in the future, the authors said.

Cancer: The Cell Cycle Gone Wrong

All cells go through the “cell cycle,” a series of events that culminate in orderly cell growth and division. In cancer, the cell cycle is out of whack; cells divide without stopping and invade surrounding tissues.

Lynne Maquat

Lynne Maquat, Ph.D.

Researchers identified a protein called Tudor-SN that is important in the “preparatory” phase of the cell cycle – the period when the cell gets ready to divide. When scientists eliminated this protein from cells, using the gene editing technology CRISPR-Cas9, cells took longer to gear up for division. The loss of Tudor-SN slowed the cell cycle.

“We know that Tudor-SN is more abundant in cancer cells than healthy cells, and our study suggests that targeting this protein could inhibit fast-growing cancer cells,” said Reyad A. Elbarbary, Ph.D., lead study author and research assistant professor in the Center for RNA Biology and the department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry.

Elbarbary, who works in the laboratory of senior study author Lynne E. Maquat, Ph.D., a world-renowned expert in RNA biology, adds that there are existing compounds that block Tudor-SN that could be good candidates for a possible therapy.

Putting the Brakes on Cell Growth

Maquat’s team discovered that Tudor-SN influences the cell cycle by controlling microRNAs, molecules that fine tune the expression of thousands of human genes.

When Tudor-SN is removed from human cells, the levels of dozens of microRNAs go up. Boosting the presence of microRNAs puts the brakes on genes that encourage cell growth. With these genes in the “off” position, the cell moves more slowly from the preparatory phase to the cell division phase.

“Because cancer cells have a faulty cell cycle, pursuing factors involved in the cell cycle is a promising avenue for cancer treatment,” noted Maquat, director of the Center for RNA Biology and the J. Lowell Orbison Endowed Chair and professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics.

Maquat, who also holds an appointment in the Wilmot Cancer Institute, and Elbarbary have filed a patent application for methods targeting Tudor-SN for the treatment and prevention of cancer. Research next steps include understanding how Tudor-SN works in concert with other molecules and proteins so that scientists can identify the most appropriate drugs to target it.

Keita Miyoshi, Ph.D., staff scientist in Maquat’s lab, served as lead study author with Elbarbary. Jason R. Myers and John M. Ashton, Ph.D. from the UR Genomics Research Center played an instrumental role in the study analysis.

Read More: Study: A New Way to Slow Cancer Cell Growth

Using rooster testes to learn how the body fights viruses

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Researchers from the University of Rochester Center for RNA Biology: From Genome to Therapeutics examined the role of piRNA in safeguarding the integrity of the genetic information in germ cells. It's known that piRNA -- a type of ribonucleic acid (RNA) that's found most readily in the testes and ovaries -- shields germ cells by silencing the genetic sequences of viral intruders. It's also known that defects or mutations in piRNA lead to infertility in humans and other animals. What's not known is how piRNAs are generated in the first place.

A team led by Xin Li, Ph.D., assistant professor in the departments of Biochemistry and Biophysics and Urology at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, analyzed rooster testes to find out.

Read More: Using rooster testes to learn how the body fights viruses

BMB, BSCB Students Win 2017 Edward Peck Curtis Award for Excellence in Teaching by a Graduate Student

Saturday, April 1, 2017

BMB and BSCB graduate students, Lauren Benoodt, Tyler Couch, and Lisa Houston have been selected as joint winners of the 2017 Edward Peck Curtis Award for Excellence in Teaching by a Graduate Student. The students will be presented with a certificate, as well as checks of $700 for each. The three of them were TA’s for IND 408 (Advanced Biochemistry) in the Fall of 2016.

The Edward Peck Curtis Award for Excellence in Teaching by a Graduate Student was established to recognize graduate students who advance the teaching mission of the University by providing highly skilled and innovative undergraduate instruction. The strongest nominations show innovation in teaching and a positive impact on the learning of undergraduates.

Congratulations Lauren, Tyler, and Lisa!

Maquat Receives Lifetime Achievement Award in Science from International RNA Society

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Photo of Lynne Maquat

Lynne E. Maquat, Ph.D. has spent her career unraveling what happens in our cells during disease, making seminal contributions to our understanding of RNA’s role in sickness and in health. She’s also committed countless hours to mentoring the next generation of researchers and advocating for young women in the sciences. For these exceptional efforts, she’s receiving the 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award in Science from the international RNA Society.

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, Maquat began her professional career studying inherited anemias. She discovered a quality control process that blocks the creation of toxic proteins that cause disease. Known as nonsense-mediated mRNA decay or NMD, this process plays a part in one third of all inherited diseases, such as cystic fibrosis and muscular dystrophy, and one third of all acquired diseases, including a number of cancers.

“This award recognizes Lynne’s pioneering contributions to understanding the mechanisms of RNA, as well as her outstanding leadership, support and commitment to our field, including her role as a model for new generations of scientists,” said Juan Valcarcel Juarez, current president of the RNA Society, who works at the Centre for Genomic Regulation in Barcelona, Spain.

James McSwiggen, CEO of the RNA Society, added, “I can’t imagine a more appropriate choice of awardee.”

Read More: Maquat Receives Lifetime Achievement Award in Science from International RNA Society

New Biophysical Research Service Available

Friday, December 2, 2016

The University has purchased a J-1100 circular dichroism (CD) spectrometer from JASCO Inc. The shared-use instrument will be housed and maintained as part of the Structural Biology and Biophysics facility. Manager Jermaine Jenkins will maintain the instrument, as well as manage user time, train users, and assist with data collection and analysis as needed. Email Jermaine Jenkins, Ph.D. to plan your experiments.

Read More: New Biophysical Research Service Available

Karl Smith Featured as Part of MAG Hidden Passions Series

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Biophysics PhD candidate, Karl Smith, is giving a talk at the Memorial Art Gallery, this Thursday at 7pm as part of their Hidden Passions speaking series.

At URMC, Smith studies glass filters 10,000 times thinner than a human hair as part of the Nanomembranes Research Group. It’s because of his rigorous academic schedule that he began the 10-cent project.

The Pittsburgh native has written more than 900 stories, each roughly 500 words, on half sheets of paper. Strangers give him a prompt, and he pecks away. He’s crafted stories about lost loves, lost dogs, sea lions, flying princesses, and frogs who jump over the moon. Stories about babies, treehouses, aardvarks, and dancing polar bears. Stories about murder.

Read more about Karl and his passion.

American Health Council Names Dr. Harold Smith, Ph.D. to Education Board

Monday, September 19, 2016

Dr. Harold Smith, Professor at The University of Rochester, has been selected to join the Education Board at the American Health Council. Dr. Smith will be sharing his knowledge and expertise in the field of molecular biology, molecular virology, RNA biology, and drug discovery.

Dr. Harold Smith became involved in research after beginning his career as a professor in the Department of Biochemistry at The University of Rochester. As a biophysics professor, he utilized his knowledge and expertise in the areas of research and innovation of RNA, protein molecular biology, cell regulation, and drug discovery. Furthermore, Dr. Smith develops curriculum, teaches and mentors students from high school to postgraduate.

Dr. Harold Smith is also the Founder, President, and CEO of OyaGen, Inc. The objective of OyaGen, Inc. is to induce transient and beneficial changes in the protein expression and function in human tissues by involving the editing enzymes in targeting biomedically relevant pathways.

Dr. Harold Smith is a member of The American Heart Association, The Council on Atherosclerosis, The RNA Society, The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and a fellow in the The Royal Society of Biology. In addition, Dr. Smith serves on the Scientific Advisor Board of Cannabis Sciences, Inc., IgxBio, Inc. and Trovita Health Sciences as well as the Editorial Board of the International Journal of Virology and AIDS, Frontiers in Microbiology, The Journal of Biological Chemistry, and The Journal of BioDiscovery.

Read More: American Health Council Names Dr. Harold Smith, Ph.D. to Education Board

Miller Receives Patent for Technology that Can Help Detect Flu

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Benjamin L. Miller, Ph.D., professor of Dermatology, recently received yet another patent for a new technology that can detect miniscule amounts of specific molecules in blood or other liquids. The patent focuses on using this technology to make detecting immune responses to the flu quicker and easier.

The AIR™ Platform, marketed by Adarza Biosystems, can detect immune responses to flu vaccines as well as the virus itself. With a small blood sample from a patient, doctors can confirm a flu infection, see if the patient mounts an appropriate immune response to a vaccine, or see if immune responses cross react with several different strains of flu. AIR™ can also be used for viral surveillance.

While Miller’s AIR™ system is not the first to make these things possible, it is a great improvement on previous technologies. Its silicon chip, which is only about the size of the end of a pencil eraser, allows scientists to detect hundreds of different target molecules in a single drop of fluid, and its “label-free” design requires fewer steps and reagents, thus reducing cost and opportunities for error.

“Label-free” systems suppress background noise to detect tiny signals, whereas conventional “labeled” systems use a more cumbersome design to amplify a tiny signal, often creating a lot of background noise in the process.

“It’s like walking through a city during the day and looking up at the buildings,” Miller said. “You have no idea what's going on in the offices because there's so much ambient light, but if you come back at night, it's easy to see.”

Miller suppresses background noise using a near-perfect anti-reflective coating on his silicon chips. For every 100 million photons of light that hit the surface of the chip, only one photon is reflected back. That coating also contains capture molecules meant to bind or “capture” specific target molecules, like antibodies produced in response to the flu virus. The more antibodies that bind to the chip, the more the anti-reflective coating is perturbed, and the more light is reflected and captured by a camera.

This simple and unconventional design and the ability to use capture molecules both big and small makes AIR™ extremely versatile. From cancer and infectious diseases, to agriculture and food safety, AIR™ is poised to expedite research and clinical testing across a wide range of applications.

Biochemistry & Biophysics Faculty Member and Photojournalist Barry Goldstein Covers Republican National Convention for The American Scholar

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Barry Goldstein is a photographer specializing in portraiture and documentary themes. Originally trained as a physician and biophysicist, he is Associate Professor of Medical Humanities at the University of Rochester Medical Center, Visiting Professor of Humanities at Williams College, and Adjunct Professor of Humanism in Medicine at the NYU Medical School. He was the first Artist-in-Residence at the New York University Medical School on September 11, 2001, an experience that led to his collection Being There: Medical Student Morgue Volunteers Following 9/11. His most recent book, Gray Land: Soldiers on War, is a collection of portraits of, and interviews with soldiers in Iraq and at home. He lectures and exhibits widely, and is a recipient of a Massachusetts Cultural Council Artists Grant in Photography.

Most recently, Barry provided coverage of the Republication National Convention for the American Scholar. His RNC work can be seen at The American Scholar and on his website.

Blanton Tolbert Wins Morton L. Mandel Award For Outstanding Chemistry Faculty

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Photo of Blanton Tolbert

Blanton Tolbert

Former Biophysics student, Blanton Tolbert (PhD 2006), mentored by Doug Turner & Ravi Basavappa, has been awarded the Morton L. Mandel endows award for outstanding chemistry faculty members at Case Western Reserve University.

Associate Professor Blanton S. Tolbert, whose work focuses closely on elucidating molecular details of the human immunodeficiency virus, more commonly known as HIV. A member of the Case Western Reserve faculty since 2012, Tolbert paired the honor with extraordinary achievements during the past academic year:

  • A featured cover story in the Journal of Molecular Biology that described new three-dimensional structures of molecules in the life cycle of HIV
  • A second article about HIV’s molecular structures, published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry that became the journal’s most-viewed RNA (Ribonucleic acid) paper in December 2015
  • Multiple online mentions of the work, including the Nov. 16 Science Highlights of the Advanced Photon Source at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Library
  • Service as director of the chemistry department’s Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) grant from the National Science Foundation. In that role, Tolbert led efforts that identified and recruited a diverse group of students to work on federally sponsored projects. As part of the 10-week experience learning cutting-edge science, the students also participated in teambuilding and professional development activities. The work proved so successful that one undergraduate was cited as co-author on a publication from his summer project.

Congratulations Blanton!

Read More: Blanton Tolbert Wins Morton L. Mandel Award For Outstanding Chemistry Faculty

Meet Karl Smith, the Typewriting Tale Teller

Friday, July 8, 2016

Photo of Karl Smith

Karl Smith

The "Friends of Joe's Big Idea" is a vibrant community of talented people we think you should meet. With our feature, FOJBI Friday, we're introducing some of these cool communicators of science in their own words. This week: Karl Smith.

Background

I'm a fifth-year biophysics doctoral candidate at the University of Rochester, where I study porous ultrathin silicon membranes. At the moment I'm taking a brief break from my research to be an American Academy for the Advancement of Science Mass Media Fellow at the Manhattan office of Scientific American.

Importance of science communication

I love science communication because it's both hard and important. People need to be told what scientists have discovered and what it means for their lives, but to do that well requires balancing the storytelling needs of journalism against objectivity and sober contextualization. Also, I personally find scientists to be generally fascinating people to write about and hear from.

Current projects

Along with my co-producer Madeline Sofia, I created The Bench Warmer's Podcast, which tells stories of misadventures and victories in science using interviews with current and former graduate students. I think the stories that don't often get told about science — the scoops, the failures, the dead ends, rewrites and rejections — are just as important to tell as the wild success stories. Not only that, but I think we short-sell our successes by not highlighting how rare they are. So, in the podcast, Maddie and I ask questions like "What's the most expensive thing you ever broke in lab?" and "Have you ever embarrassed yourself by dislocating your knee while singing karaoke onstage in front of hundreds of your scientific peers and possible future employers?"

I also write "10-cent stories" for children at the Rochester Museum and Science Center and at a few other places around Rochester. The children give me a prompt and in five minutes I use my typewriter to type them a tale. I've been doing this for about three years now, and I've written well over 800 stories. Sometimes the stories have a STEM bend to them, but sometimes they're just stories. I love this project for a lot of reasons, but most of all because it lets me make the world a stranger, more whimsical place.

Future plans

I've only been at my fellowship for a few weeks, so I'm still deciding if I want to be a science journalist or if my plans lie elsewhere. This is a time of great flux for me, so I don't know yet where I'm heading. But I'm enjoying figuring it out.

Read More: Meet Karl Smith, the Typewriting Tale Teller

Clara Kielkopf Receives EvansMDS Discovery Research Grant

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Biochemistry & Biophysics Associate Professor, Clara Kielkopf's project, entitled, Structural mechanisms and targeting of MOS-relevant pre-mRNA splicing factors has been selected by EvansMDS for funding for 2016. This year EvansMDS requested 12 full DRG proposals and were able to fund 6 of them. Their hope is that these findings will translate into improvements in therapy that can be delivered to MDS patients.

The Kielkopf lab investigates splicing defects in hematologic malignancies; roles of human pre-mRNA splicing factors in HIV-1 infectivity; development of engineered splicing factors for correction of splicing defects and splice sites and their associated proteins as therapeutic targets.

Mallory Scott Selected for Summer Internship at Bayer Pharmaceuticals

Friday, June 10, 2016

Mallory Scott, Biophysics, Structural and Computational Biology PhD student, in the laboratory of Dr. Paul Kammermeier, has been selected for a summer internship at Bayer Pharmaceuticals in Whippany, NJ in Global Regulatory Affairs. Mallory will gain valuable work experience in the healthcare industry while working with regulatory professionals on various projects to learn about the role of regulatory affairs in drug development and product registration as well as the regulatory landscape. Mallory will be working in the Chemistry, Manufacturing and Controls (CMC) division. Her project is focused on quality by design in continuous manufacturing.

Harold Smith Publishes Commentary on RNA and DNA Editing

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Epigenetics is a popular, yet still mysterious concept in health and medicine. It’s the study of a variety of biological processes that alter the expression of our genes. Sometimes this involves modifying the structure of our chromosomes to mask or unmask genes, and other times the actual genetic code is changed in certain cells. Harold C. Smith, Ph.D., a longtime professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry has studied epigenetics in a research focus known as RNA and DNA editing since it was introduced two decades ago. He was invited to write a commentary on the progress and future of this research, published today in Trends in Biochemical Sciences, and answers a few questions about the subject.

Read More: Harold Smith Publishes Commentary on RNA and DNA Editing

Congratulations Karl Smith, AAAS Mass Media Fellowship Recipient

Monday, May 23, 2016

Karl Smith, 5th year graduate student in the Biophysics Structural and Computational Biology PhD program, laboratory of Dr. Jim McGrath, has received an AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) Mass Media Fellowship. Karl, sponsored by the American Physical Society, will be spending 10 weeks this summer working at Scientific American in their Manhattan offices as part of his fellowship.

Since its inception, the AAAS Fellowship Program has supported more than 625 student scientists, engineers and medical professionals who, in some cases, produced the only original science-news reporting at their assigned media outlets over the summer. The current 15 fellows, selected from a pool of 130 outstanding applicants, are likely to generate between 200 and 300 original science stories for print articles, blogs, podcasts, radio segments, and multimedia features.

Past participants in the Mass Media Fellows program include Mark Dumont, Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, who received the AAAS Mass Media Fellowship in 1975, the second year that it was in existence. Over that summer, he wrote 26 news articles for the San Diego Union.

Other recipients include Erica Goode and Kenneth Chang of the New York Times; Richard Harris, David Kestenbaum, and Joe Palca of NPR; renowned biologist Eric Lander, co-chair of U.S. President Barack Obama's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology; physician and "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" Executive Producer Neal Baer; Victoria Bruce, author of No Apparent Danger: The True Story of Volcanic Disaster at Galeras and Nevado Del Ruiz; and many others. - from AAAS's website.

Karl Smith places third in University’s Falling Walls Competition

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Karl Smith, a PhD student in Biophysics and a member of the lab of James McGrath, Professor of Biomedical Engineering, won third place in the University of Rochester’s Falling Walls Competition for describing his use of physics to make water behind a filter form a mixer vortex, reducing the difficulty of normal stirring when fluids stick to surfaces. A total of 19 presenters competed.

The competition is associated with the Falling Walls foundation, a non-profit organization that fosters discussions on research and innovation and promotes the latest scientific findings to society. The Rochester winner’s idea will compete with others from around the world at the Falling Walls Lab Finale in November in Berlin. This event selects the participants for the annual Falling Walls Conference the following day: an international forum for science and innovation to commemorate the fall of the Berlin Wall. Speakers at the conference have included Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany; Nobel Prize winner Sir Paul Nurse; and young inventors from around the world. BBC London said it was where the “brightest minds on the planet” meet.

Last year’s Falling Walls Lab Rochester winner, Ryan Trombetta, a BME PhD student in Dr. Awad’s lab, finished 12th (out off a 100 finalists worldwide) in the Berlin competition for his description of using 3D printed bone grafts to treat osteomyelitis. See his presentation here.

Solomon Abiola, Sara Nowacki and Karl Smith, the top three finishers at the Falling Walls Competition.

From left to right, Solomon Abiola, Sara Nowacki and Karl Smith, the top three finishers at the Falling Walls Competition.

The Future of Photonics

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

As hundreds of millions of dollar pour into Rochester to establish the nation's first Photonics Hub, Mark Gruba has a closer look at the technology in a News 8 special report, "The Future of Photonics."

Photonics is the science and technology of generating, controlling and detecting photons, which are particles of light. A display at the Rochester Museum & Science Center houses examples of its many applications. In one, a transmitter converts an audio signal from electrical pulses into light pulses. The laser beam sends that information to the receiver, which converts the light pulses back to electrical pulses and sends them to the speaker for your listening enjoyment.

"We work on optical bio sensors," said Dr. Ben Miller, a researcher at the University of Rochester Medical Center. He's creating a sensor that can detect the presence of hundreds of viruses from a single blood sample, in real time. "We're working to make devices so that you can immediately get that information in the doctor's office," said Dr. Miller.

Read More: The Future of Photonics

Strong Star Certificate of Appreciation Awarded to Dr. Jermaine “JJ" Jenkins

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

On January 22, 2016, Dr. Jermaine Jenkins, who runs the Structural Biology and Biophysics Facility, was nominated for going 'above and beyond' in his work for a client of the facility. The client commented in their nomination:

The clinical trials group had a very tight timeline to meet for one of our clients. Testing had to be completed by the 25th of January so the client could present the data to the FDA. JJ was aware of the required quick turnaround time and he met the challenge. He worked the weekend so that our client's needs would be met. It is so impressive to work with such a dedicated scientist who takes his job so seriously. With JJ's help, URMC Labs Clinical Trials group made a very good impression on a client.

As Facility Manager of the Structural Biology and Biophysics Facility, Dr. Jenkins offers support services to determine macromolecular x-ray crystal structures, and to investigate protein-protein, protein-nucleic acid or protein-small molecule interactions. Professor Clara Kielkopf – a long time user and co-founder of the Facility commented, JJ quickly, calmly and reliably responds to user needs. Co-director of the Facility Professor Joseph Wedekind added, Dr. Jenkins is an outstanding and dedicated scientist. We are fortunate to have such a great colleague. Please join us in expressing your gratitude to JJ for his service and dedication.

The Scientist as Storyteller

Friday, January 15, 2016

photo of graduate students at Rochester

Graduate students Clarence Ling (left), Jon Baker,
and Karl Smith rehearse a script for The Bootleggers
at the WRUR studios in Todd Union. (Photo: Adam Fenster)

For Karl Smith, the storytelling bug began with a Montgomery Ward No. 22 typewriter purchased for $5 at a moving sale.

Typewriter perched on his lap, the doctoral student in biophysics has become a fixture at the Rochester Public Market, Corn Hill Arts Festival, and other Rochester-area arts-oriented venues. For 10 cents, he crafts a half-sheet-long tale about grandchildren, lost loves, pets, or the absurd. The clacking of keys on paper draws a curious crowd.

I derive a lot of meaning and joy from making things that other people draw joy from, says Smith.

As a graduate student at Rochester, Smith has been finding lots of ways to share his love of storytelling. In addition to his peripatetic typewriting, he’s the leader of Rocket Radio Theater, a troupe of radio performers whose core membership includes fellow like-minded medical science graduate students Clarence Ling, Jon Baker, Carolyn Klocke, Bronwyn Lucas, and Matt Payea.

The project began in 2013 with a recording at Smith’s kitchen table. The group, which now records in the studios of campus radio station WRUR, hosts several serial drama podcasts and stand-alone stories created by Smith. Its feature series, The Bootleggers, takes place during prohibition-era Rochester, playing up aspects of local history and landscapes.

In his research as a biophysicist, Smith explores nanoporous silicon membranes in the lab of James McGrath, professor of biomedical engineering. Smith describes the membranes as coffee filters made of glass that are 10,000 times thinner than a human hair.

But he hopes to continue to combine storytelling and science after graduation, perhaps as a science journalist or a podcaster.

I want to live in a world, he says, where people are standing on street corners writing stories.

Read More: The Scientist as Storyteller

B&B Professor Harold Smith and Oyagen's Drug Development Highlighted on Local TV for World Aids Day

Friday, December 4, 2015

OyaGen, a small medical research firm off Jefferson Road in Henrietta, has used federal grants for its HIV drug discovery programs with the goal of finding a cure. Dr. Harold Smith, Professor of Biochemistry & Biophysics at the University of Rochester, and the company's founder, president and CEO got his start as a molecular biologist studying heart disease.

"It became clear to me that the things we were doing to study heart disease and find out why things were happening translated directly into the HIV research arena," Smith said.

By 2010, things kicked into high gear. Advanced robotics were added allowing scientists to work with advanced chemistries. They've now identified a weak point in the HIV virus that's never been exploited before. Vif is a viral defense HIV releases into cells it infects. It destroys the body's natural defense against infections. OyaGen discovered a way to defeat HIV by disabling Vif.

"If we can proceed along track, we will be looking at entering clinical trials within a completely different way of approaching the virus and the disease within three years," Smith said.

To read more see the Channel 8 story.

Alan Grossfield's Research Featured in Cosmos Article

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Research performed by Associate Professor Alan Grossfield and colleagues into how a new class of drugs fights bacterial infections was highlighted in a recent Cosmos Magazine article. Dr. Grossfield's research was also recently highlighted in EurekaAlert!, an online magazine run by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.Read More: Alan Grossfield's Research Featured in Cosmos Article

B&B Department Mourns the Loss of Rose Burgholzer

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

It is with much sadness that we inform everyone of the passing of Rose Burgholzer, after a long and courageous battle with cancer. Rose worked at the University for 40 years, almost half of that as an administrator in our department. She was a dear friend and colleague and will be greatly missed. Many former students remember Rose fondly and have communicated with her during her illness, and she graciously received a steady stream of visiting faculty and staff in her home these past few years.

A Funeral Mass was held Wednesday, June 17, at St. Kateri at St. Margaret Mary Church in Rochester, with entombment at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery. Memorials may be directed to a charity of your choice. View her obituary and a slideshow from Rose's family.

Blocking Cellular Quality Control Mechanism Gives Cancer Chemotherapy a Boost

Friday, March 27, 2015

A University of Rochester team found a way to make chemotherapy more effective, by stopping a cellular quality-control mechanism, according to a study published today in Nature Communications.

The mechanism is known as NMD (nonsense-mediated mRNA decay), and scientists found that exposing breast cancer cells to a molecule that inhibits NMD prior to treatment with doxorubicin, a drug used to treat leukemia, breast, bone, lung and other cancers, hastens cell death.

The research team, led by Lynne E. Maquat, Ph.D., director of the Center for RNA Biology at the University of Rochester, acknowledges that the work is in the early stages and a long way from being applied in humans. But, they believe their data provide insights that could lead to new treatment strategies for cancer patients in the future.

Read More: Blocking Cellular Quality Control Mechanism Gives Cancer Chemotherapy a Boost

Lynne Maquat Receives 2015 Gairdner International Award

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Lynne E. Maquat, Ph.D. received the 2015 Gairdner International Award for the discovery and mechanistic studies of nonsense-mediated mRNA decay, a cellular quality control mechanism that derails the production of unwanted proteins in the body that can disrupt normal processes and initiate disease. She is one of five scientists honored with the award, which is given every year to recognize the achievement of medical researchers whose work contributes significantly to improving the quality of human life.

The J. Lowell Orbison Endowed Chair and Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of Rochester Medical Center, Maquat is known around the world for her work on nonsense-mediated mRNA decay, which is critically important in both normal and disease states. She is considered the uncontested pioneer on the subject and in 2011 was elected to the National Academy of Sciences for her exceptional research, which has been published in more than 130 peer-reviewed scientific articles.

Maquat is the first scientist from upstate New York to receive the Gairdner International Award, which is recognized for its rigorous peer-led selection process. A panel of active Canadian scientists reviews all nominations and passes their recommendations to a board of two dozen senior scientists from across Canada, the United States, Europe, Australia and Japan. After in-depth study and review, board members cast votes for the nominees whose achievements rise above all others in their field. According to the Gairdner Foundation, of the 313 winners to date, 82 have gone on to receive a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, a testament to the quality of the awardees.

The award was also highlighted in the Opinion pages of Saturday’s Democrat and Chronicle in the Thumbs up, thumbs down section: Thumbs up: For Dr. Lynne Maquat, who is one of five biomedical researchers from around the world to win this year's Gairdner International Award. The University of Rochester Medical Center scientist has joined a prestigious group. Since 1959, more than a quarter of the Gairdner International winners have gone on to win a Nobel Prize, too.

Read More: Lynne Maquat Receives 2015 Gairdner International Award

B&B Graduate Students 'Bootleg' Their Way to the Top

Friday, March 20, 2015

The Pocket Radio Theater

The Biochemistry and Biophysics department is pleased to announce that a number of the department's graduate students have undertaken a very creative project. Specifically, six of our graduate students have been writing, producing, and voice acting in a serial podcast about bootleggers smuggling rum across Lake Ontario in 1921.

You can access the first three episodes on iTunes, or you can find them on their Pocket Radio Theater Facebook page. While contingent on their individual research workloads, their plan is to release more episodes on a monthly basis for a total of around 20.

Check out the creative endeavors of your departmental colleagues!

Department Announces Fred Sherman Student Award

Friday, March 6, 2015

The Department of Biochemistry & Biophysics are very pleased to announce a new student award within the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology program, to be given at our annual Awards Ceremony in May.

The Fred Sherman Award will honor the memory of our former colleague, and will annually recognize a student in the BMB program who exemplifies the imagination, the excellence in the pursuit of scientific knowledge, and the commitment to the scientific community that were characteristic of Fred Sherman.

This award will compliment the William F. Neuman Award, given annually to a BSCB student to recognize academic, scientific and personal qualities which exemplify the imagination, enthusiasm and excellence in the pursuit of scientific knowledge which were characteristic of the life of Dr. William F. Neuman.

MSTP Announces 40th Anniversary Celebration!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Edward Rubin

Edward M. Eddy Rubin

The Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) is excited to announce a celebration of the 40th anniversary of the MSTP NIH training grant on Friday, October 9, 2015.

The keynote speaker will be an MSTP alumni from the Class of 1980: Edward Rubin, MD, PhD, Director, DOE Joint Genome Institute.

Edward M. Eddy Rubin is an internationally-known geneticist and medical researcher at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, California, where he became head of the Genomic Sciences Division in 1998. In 2002 he assumed the directorship of the DOE Joint Genome Institute (JGI) to lead the JGI's involvement in the Human Genome Project (HGP).

For more information and schedule of events for the day, please visit the MSTP 40th Anniversary page.

Colleagues Pay Tribute to Phil Fay

Monday, October 6, 2014

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.

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

Friday, 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 distinguished career at the University 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.

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

Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics Celebrates 15-Year Service Awards

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Sara Connelly and Shelley Burns

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!

Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics Mourns the Loss of Dr. Philip Fay

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Dr. Philip Fay, Ph.D.

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.

Professor Mahin Maines Issued Two Patents

Friday, June 6, 2014

HeLa Cancer Cells

HeLa cancer cells dramatically increased in size
and morphology when human BVR is introduced.

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).

Striking increase in BVR in a human
kidney tumor compared to normal kidney tissue.

Striking increase in BVR in a human
kidney tumor compared to normal kidney tissue.

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.

Fay, Wakabayashi & Maines Featured in Democrat & Chronicle as Nominees for Inventor of the Year

Saturday, May 24, 2014

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.

Pilot Awards Support Three Projects

Thursday, May 22, 2014

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 & amp; Biophysics, as well as the Center for RNA Biology general interest in understanding the mechanisms of protein expression, folding and degradation. We investigate 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.

B & B Dept Graduate Student Wins Best Poster Award

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

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.

Dept Faculty Members Fay and Wakabayashi Nominated for the Distinguished Inventor of the Year

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Dr. Philip Fay, Ph.D.

Hironao Wakabayashi, M.D., 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!

Department Alumnus Selected as part of a "Next Gen" Crystallographer Group for 2014 International Year of Crystallography

Thursday, March 27, 2014

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 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.

Announcing Faculty Promotions and Awards

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

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.

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

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Patrick Brandt

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.

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

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

Friday, 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 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.

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

In Memoriam: Fred Sherman - The First Yeast Molecular Biologist

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

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.

Using Yeast to Unravel Premature Aging Disorder

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Like a fence that encloses a backyard, all of the body’s cells are surrounded by membranes. Each membrane has its own complement of membrane proteins, which perform critical functions like letting things in and out of the cell, and keeping the inside of the cell informed of what’s happening on the outside.  Mark Dumont, Ph.D., professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics and Pediatrics, says that more than half of the drugs on the market today target membrane proteins.

Despite their importance, the structures and mechanisms that determine how these proteins work are not very well understood. In a recent study in Science, Dumont and collaborators at the University of Virginia and the Hauptman-Woodward Institute in Buffalo describe the structure of a particular membrane protein called Ste24p that is involved in cutting up other proteins in yeast. If there’s a defect in this protein, yeast can’t mate.

The obvious next question is, how is yeast’s inability to reproduce relevant to people? It turns out, the human equivalent of the protein Ste24p, when mutated, causes progeria – a premature aging disorder in which children develop hair loss, joint ailments, and heart disease, which they typically die of in their mid-teens. Dumont says that better understanding how this protein works – in yeast and in people – will help scientists to design a drug or other treatment for this devastating disorder and learn more about the human aging process.  

Nadia Fedoriw, a technician in Dumont’s lab, grows yeast used for protein production.
Nadia Fedoriw, a technician in Dumont’s lab, grows yeast used for protein production

Dumont is a senior investigator of the Membrane Protein Structural Biology Consortium, one of nine NIH-funded centers across the country that are trying to solve the structures of membrane proteins.  He worked with Kathleen Clark and Nadia Fedoriw from Pediatrics and Sara Connelly from Biochemistry and Biophysics on the study.

Read More: Using Yeast to Unravel Premature Aging Disorder

Department Faculty Awarded 2013 Provost's Multidisciplinary Award

Friday, June 14, 2013

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.

Read More: Department Faculty Awarded 2013 Provost's Multidisciplinary Award

New RNA Structure - the Wedekind Lab has it Covered!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Crystal structure of the preQ1-II riboswitch

Crystal structure of the preQ1-II riboswitch.

Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics Associate Professor Joseph Wedekind and members of his research group (Joseph Liberman, Mohammad Salim and Jolanta Krucinska) published a paper in the June 2013 issue of Nature Chemical Biology. The work describes the structure of an RNA molecule called the preQ1 class II riboswitch (featured on the journal's cover) that functions as a gene regulatory element for bacteria within the Firmicutes phylum, including human pathogens such as Streptococcus pneumoniae. The RNA structure is bound to the small molecule preQ1, which is the last soluble metabolite in the biosynthetic pathway that produces queuosine, a hypermodified base at the wobble position of certain tRNAs that promotes accurate genetic decoding. Because preQ1 is unique to the bacterial metabolome, the class II preQ1 riboswitch has potential as an antibacterial drug target.

The research was performed primarily at the University of Rochester and made extensive use of the Structural Biology and Biophysics Facility. The work also required the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource (Menlo Park, CA), as well as Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source (Ithaca, NY) where crystals were subjected to X-ray diffraction analyses. The work in Wedekind' lab was funded by the National Institutes of Health/ National Institute for General Medical Sciences (NIH/NIGMS).

The preQ1-II riboswitch structure reveals the chemical details of preQ1 binding in a pocket formed at the junction of three RNA helices. Complementary work from Wedekind's lab showed that preQ1 promotes a more compact shape that leads to blocking of a signal that is necessary for protein synthesis, which leads to lower levels of preQ1 in the cell. Of special note was the lab's observation that the mechanism of action used by the preQ1-II RNA riboswitch is entirely different than that used by the class I preQ1 riboswitch, whose structure and mode of preQ1 binding were reported previously by Wedekind's lab. Overall the results expand the known repertoire of metabolite-binding modes used by regulatory RNAs.

Department of Biochemistry & Biophysics Holds Annual Awards Ceremony

Friday, May 17, 2013

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.

David Mathews Heads Working Group Within New Center For Aids Research

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Dr. David Mathews will head one of the primary units within the recently announced $7.5M Center for Aids Research at the University. The NIH-funded center is one of only 18 in the country and brings together University scientists from numerous disciplines. Dr. Mathews, Associate Director of the Center for RNA Biology and Associate Professor within the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, will head the working group focused on the biology of the AIDS virus genome, which is comprised of RNA.

Read More: David Mathews Heads Working Group Within New Center For Aids Research

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

Thursday, January 10, 2013

University of Rochester President Joel Seligman, with 2013 Diversity Award winners

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.

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

Longtime Biochemistry & Biophysics Member, Sayeeda Zain, Ph.D., Dies

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Sayeeda Zain, PhD

Sayeeda Zain, Ph.D.

Longtime Biochemistry & Biophysics member, Sayeeda Zain, Ph.D. passed away last week after a long and courageous battle with cancer. Services were held last Sunday for Sayeeda.

Sayeeda did her Ph.D. work with Sherman Weissman in the Dept of Human Genetics, Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry at Yale University where she carried out some of the very earliest nucleic acid sequencing experiments, determining the sequence of parts of the SV40 virus. She then went to Richard Roberts' group at The Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories, where she applied her knowledge of sequencing to both adenovirus transcripts and genomic DNA – and co-discovered, with Louise Chow, the phenomenon of mRNA splicing. Roberts later received the Nobel Prize for this work, with Philip Sharp (Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 1993.

In 1978 Sayeeda took a faculty position in the Microbiology Department at the University of Rochester and later was hired into to the Biochemistry Department by Fred Sherman. Sayeeda's research program focused on eukaryotic gene expression with specific emphasis on proteins involved in Alzheimer's disease and molecular mechanisms of metastasis. She remained an active member of the department, teaching in Molecules-to-Cells, until last year.

Alan E. Senior, Emeritus Professor, Publishes Reflections Article

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Alan E. Senior, Emeritus Professor in the department of Biochemistry & Biophysics, recently published a Reflections article in The Journal of Biological Chemistry. The article details his life and work defining the F1F0-ATPase (also known as ATP synthase), which is a fundamental component of oxidative phosphorylation, and P-glycoprotein, an important enzyme that confers multidrug resistance to anti-cancer drugs and other therapeutics.

Biophysics, Structural & Computational Biology Program to Hold Annual Retreat

Friday, August 17, 2012

The BSCB program will hold it's annual retreat at the Memorial Art Gallery on Monday, October 8. Our Ph.D. candidates will be presenting short talks throughout the day and posters during an afternoon session. A major highlight of the retreat is a Career Discussion Panel comprising five diverse scientists:

  • Prof. Hong Li (Florida State U.)
  • Prof. Doros Petasis (Alleghany College)
  • Prof. Barry Goldstein (U. Rochester/professional photographer)
  • Dr. Matthew Benning (Bruker-AXS, Inc.)
  • Dr. Chris Strohsahl (CellTraffix, Inc.)

Lunch and refreshments will be served, courtesy of the BSCB Program's Neuman Educational Endowment, as well as corporate sponsorship from Genscript, Inc., Bruker-AXS, Inc., and GE Healthcare, Inc.

Drs. Clara Kielkopf and Joseph Wedekind are the faculty organizers and student organizers are Anant Agrawal and Karl Smith. Program and additional information will be available in September.

Professor Mahin Maines Recognized for Lifetime Contribution to Heme Oxygenase Community

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Congratulations to Professor Mahin Maines, Ph.D., who received recognition for her lifetime contribution to the Heme Oxygenase Community. Dr. Maines was presented with a certificate acknowledging her contribution, by her peers at the 7th International Congress on Heme Oxygenases and Related Enzymes, 28th May - 1st June, held at the University of Edinburgh

Longtime Faculty Member, Expert in Effects of Radiation on DNA, Dies

Monday, May 14, 2012

William A. Bernhard, Ph.D., a faculty member of the University of Rochester Medical Center for more than 40 years and an internationally known expert on the effects of ionizing radiation on the chemical structure of DNA, died May 9 at his home in Mendon, N.Y., after a brief illness.

Bill was a biophysicist of the highest order, working at the forefront of understanding how radiation damages our genetic material. His unique command of both the biological and physical aspects of radiation damage earned him the respect and recognition of colleagues worldwide, said Jeffrey J. Hayes, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics. The longevity of his research program, funded by the National Cancer Institute for 37 consecutive years, and the successful careers of his many trainees are testaments to the consistent high quality of his work, the high regard his peers, and his commitment to training future scientists. Bill also was a wonderful person and colleague.Read More: Longtime Faculty Member, Expert in Effects of Radiation on DNA, Dies

10th Annual Fred Sherman Lecture Highlights Genetics Day 2012

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Today, the department of Biomedical Genetics 24th Annual Genetics Day was highlighted by the 10th Annual Fred Sherman Lecture. Dr. Fred Sherman, Professor Emeritus of Biochemistry & Biophysics has been honored for his contributions to Genetics and Yeast Genetics for the past nine years with a lecture named after him. The NIH has funded Fred for a remarkable 45 years, during which time he has published over 280 papers, with more on the way.

In 1970, Fred initiated the famous yeast course at Cold Spring Harbor, which has trained scores of today’s leading investigators. He served as an instructor in this course for 17 years. Fred’s many landmark contributions to several fields of molecular biology were recognized by his election to the National Academy of Sciences in 1985.

Genetics Day is an annual event, including a poster session and plenary lectures, that brings together the University genetics community defined in its broadest sense. This year, Dr. Gary Ruvkun, Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School, gave the Sherman Lecture entitled, The tiny RNA pathways of C. elegans.

Former Biophysics Chair and Senior Dean of Graduate Studies Dies

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Paul L. LaCelle, M.D., a University of Rochester Medical Center faculty member for more than 40 years, a former department chair and former senior dean, died March 9. He was 82.

Dr. LaCelle, a 1959 graduate of the University's School of Medicine and Dentistry, joined the faculty in 1964 as an instructor of what was then the Department of Radiation Biology and Biophysics. He was named a professor in 1974 and chaired what is now the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics from 1977 to 1996.

Read More: Former Biophysics Chair and Senior Dean of Graduate Studies Dies

Biophysics, Structural and Computational Biology Graduate Program Holds Annual Retreat

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Biophysics, Structural and Computational Biology Retreat took place on Monday, October 10, 2011 at the Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester, NY. There was a great turnout for the event with presentations by postdoctoral fellow's and students from the Dumont, Mathews, Miller, Miao, Kielkopf and Wedekind labs.

In addition to those talks, Dr. Tom Gunter who recently retired from the Biophysics program gave a retrospective talk of the history of the Biophysics program. There was also a Career Panel Discussion featuring Dr. Lea Michel (alumnus, Dr. Kara Bren's lab) from the Rochester Institute of Technology, Dr. Thomas Gaborski who is the President and CEO of SiMPore Inc. as well as Dr. Jack Daiss, Consultant and Chief Scientific Officer at Codevax. The retreat also featured over 20 poster presentations.

Biochemistry and Biophysics Graduate Students Receive Fellowship Awards

Thursday, October 6, 2011

At this year's opening convocation on October 5, two graduate students from the department of Biochemistry & Biophysics received Graduate Fellowship's. Dejun Lin, a Ph.D. student in the Biophysics, Structural and Computational Biology graduate program, was awarded the Leon L. Miller Graduate Fellowship. This fellowship, established by the Miller family, honors Dr. Leon Miller, Professor Emeritus of Biochemistry & Biophysics, for his contributions to science and the School of Medicine and Dentistry. It is awarded annually to a student with interest in developing a biophysics-related research career.

Sarah Amie, a Ph.D. student in the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology graduate program, was awarded the Elmer H. Stotz Graduate Fellowship. This fellowship, established by the Stotz family to honor Dr. Elmer Stotz, Professor Emeritus and former Chair of the Department of Biochemistry, is awarded to a Ph.D. student in biochemistry.

Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics Holds Annual Awards Ceremony

Friday, May 13, 2011

Robert Bambara and Biochemistry & Biophysics Graduates

Robert Bambara and Biochemistry & Biophysics Graduates.

The department of Biochemistry & Biophysics held its annual awards ceremony to celebrate those students that received their doctoral degree this year. Awards were also given out to various students and faculty members for their respective research and teaching contributions. The following awards were given:

Walter Bloor Award for Excellent Ph.D. Thesis
Keith Connolly and Christopher Hine
George Metzger Award for Excellence in Biophysics Ph.D. Thesis
Jessica Snyder
Marvel-Dare Nutting Award Recognizing an Outstanding Biochemistry Ph.D.
Tamara Caterino
William Neuman Award in Biophysics
Paul Black
William Neuman Travel Awards
Paul Black, He Fang, Nicholas Leioatts, and Wenhua Wang
Excellent Student Seminar Presentations
Wen Shen, Karyn Schmidt, Krystle McLaughlin, and Nicholas Leioatts
Faculty Teaching Awards
David Mathews, Ph.D. and Lynne Maquat, Ph.D.
Staff Recognition Award
Melissa Vera