September 2016 News

Rob Unckless has joined the Department of Molecular Biosciences as an Assistant Professor.  Dr. Unckless received his PhD from the University of Rochester with John Jaenike and H. Allen Orr, and completed his postdoctoral work with Brian Lazzaro and Andy Clark at Cornell University. The Unckless lab at KU will continue to work on the genetics and evolution of immune response and host-pathogen interactions in Drosophila species, using a combination of classical genetics, genomics and modeling.



David Davido (associate professor) served as selection committee chair for the Priscilla Schaffer Graduate Student and Postdoctoral Awards at the 41th International Herpesvirus Workshop in Madison, WI, from July 23-27, 2016.  He also presented a poster at this year's Workshop entitled "Two Amino Acid Substitutions in HSV-1 ICP6 Impair Acute Viral Replication and Latency in Mice and Constitutes a Potential Vaccine Against HSV-1."



Dr. Erik Lundquist received an R56 bridging grant from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke entitled "Regulation of growth cone protrusion in Netrin-mediated axon repulsion”. Axon guidance is a fundamental mechanism of wiring the nervous system into circuits during development.  Work supported by this award will delve into the basic mechanisms of axon guidance in the model organism nematode C. elegans, which will be relevant to human neurodevelopment disorders and nervous system recovery after stroke or physical trauma.


Rita-Marie McFadden (postdoctoral researcher, Neufeld lab) was selected to serve as a member of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) Education and Professional Development Committee.  As the only postdoc on the committee, Dr. McFadden is tasked with providing input regarding education and training needs for scientists early in their career development, particularly with respect to graduate student and postdoctoral training.  ASBMB has a wide range of programs in education and training.


The Unckless lab welcomes two new members.  Tom Hill joins the lab as a postdoctoral researcher after completing his PhD in Evolutionary Biology and Population Genetics at Vetmeduni Vienna in early 2016.  He is interested in establishing the recently discovered Drosophila innubila nudivirus (DiNV) as the DNA virus model for Drosophila. Specifically, he is interested in understanding how the virus infects Drosophila, and characterizing the host immune response.  Brittny Smith, a KU alum, joins the lab as a research assistant after spending several years in the Macdonald lab.  In the past, Brittny has worked on understanding natural genetic variation and its influence on various traits.  She will continue this work in the Unckless lab working specifically on bacterial immunity.


Bryce Blankenfeld (graduate student, Gamblin lab) and Kara Hinshaw (graduate student, Chandler lab) participated in the Chemistry-Biology Interface Career Development Workshop at the University of Michigan, August 7-9.  Bryce and Kara were two of six graduate students chosen to be in the KU delegation, which also included students from chemistry, medicinal chemistry and pharmaceutical chemistry. 



Kara Hinshaw (graduate student, Chandler lab; pictured above) and Mahekta Gujar (graduate student, Lundquist lab) are the recipients of the Borgendale Award for their talks at the 2016 Graduate Student Symposium.  Kara’s research talk was entitled “Quorum sensing control of antibiotic resistance protects cooperating bacterial cells during interspecies competition.”  Mahekta presented her research with a talk entitled “UNC-33/CRMP inhibits growth cone protrusion in axon repulsion from UNC-6/netrin.”



Lauren Arney (left) and Jessica van Loben Sels (right; 2016 graduates) have been named 2016-2017 KU Women of Distinction.  While undergraduates at KU, both completed Biology honors theses.  Lauren completed her research in the Lamb laboratory, while Jessica was in the Davido lab.  Lauren is now in medical school at KUMC and Jessica is pursuing a doctorate at the University of Cambridge. 


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September 2016 Presentations

Yuxiao Guo (Xu lab) successfully defended her master's thesis entitled “Taxotere suppresses breast cancer growth through inducing lincRNA-p21 expression” on August 31.


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September 2016 Publications

Highfill CA, Reeves GA, Macdonald SJ.  Genetic analysis of variation in lifespan using a multiparental advanced intercross Drosophila mapping populationBMC Genet.  17:113.

Im W, Liang J, Olson A, Zhou HX, Vajda S, Vakser IA.  Challenges in structural approaches to cell modelingJ Mol Biol 428: 2943-64.

Park H, Galbraith R, Turner T, Mehojah J, Azuma MLoss of Ewing sarcoma EWS allele promotes tumorigenesis by inducing chromosomal instability in zebrafishSci Rep doi.10.1038/srep32297.


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Molecular Biosciences

We are an interdisciplinary group of faculty who perform cutting edge research in a wide range of areas including biochemistry, biophysics, structural biology, bioinformatics, cancer biology, genetics, genomics, immunology, microbiology, virology, neurobiology, molecular, cellular and developmental biology.  We work closely with postdoctoral fellows, graduate students, and undergraduates to investigate fundamental biological problems on all levels from molecules to cells to organisms.  The Department of Molecular Biosciences, located on the Lawrence campus of the University of Kansas system, is an excellent environment for research and education.

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