March 2015 News

Dr. Kristi Neufeld Kristi Neufeld (associate professor) organized a conference for the KU Cancer Center Cancer Biology Program of which she serves as co-leader.  The meeting, held on February 13 at the Arterra Event gallery in Lawrence, included talks from Stowers Institute, KU Medical Center and KU-Lawrence program members, a keynote lecture by Surinder K. Batra, PhD, Chairman of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Nebraska College of Medicine, and PechaKucha-style talks by program members, including Molecular Biosciences faculty Mizuki Azuma and Yoshi Azuma.



Dr. Liang Xu Liang Xu (associate professor) is the recipient of a donation from the Kilonsky Foundation through KU Endowment to support research into cancer therapeutic development.




Dr. Susan Egan Susan Egan (professor and chair) and Dave Benson (chemistry) are the recipients of a three year Beckman Scholars Program Grant, which has the goal of stimulating, encouraging and supporting research activities by exceptionally talented, full-time undergraduate students pursuing research activities in chemistry, biochemistry, biology and the medical sciences.  The KU program has 15 mentors from Molecular Biosciences and Chemistry, and will support two undergrad students per year.  The students will receive a stipend totaling $22,000 to support their research (for two academic years and two summers), travel funds to present their research at a conference in their field, and the lab of their mentor will receive $5,000 for supplies to support their research.  Read the KU Today article entitled "Prestigious research scholarship available to undergraduates."


Dr. Jim Orr Jim Orr (professor) is the recipient of the Joan S. Hunt Distinguished Mentoring Award from the Kansas IDeA Network for Biomedical Research Excellence (K-INBRE).  This award was established in 2012 to recognize upper-level faculty for their mentoring success.  The award was highlighted in a KU Today story entitled “Molecular Biosciences professor wins mentoring award.”



Kelly Harrison Kelly Harrison (graduate student, W. Picking lab) was one of eight graduate students from the University of Kansas to present at the 12th annual Capitol Research Summit in Topeka.  The Summit is an opportunity for selected graduate students to share their research with Kansas State senators, representatives, education officials, and the general public.  Kelly is pictured explaining her research to Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little.


Erin Suderman Erin Suderman (graduate student, Ward lab), was one of 20 undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral students honored with a cash prize for their scientific research presentations at the 2015 Kansas IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence Symposium on January 17-18 in Topeka.  Her poster presentation was entitled, “Genetic control of tissue specific growth in the larval trachea of drosophila”.



Dan Vu (undergraduate, Timmons Lab) received a KU Undergraduate Research Award for Spring 2015.  The award will be used in support of experiments designed to uncover functions and localization patterns of ABC transporters in Caenorhabditis elegans.

Preston DennetPreston Dennett (undergraduate, Timmons Lab) was selected as a K-INBRE Undergraduate Scholar for Spring and Summer of 2015.  His award will support the development of novel genetics tools that will be used to uncover the precise role of a non-coding RNA in meiotic chromosome disjunction in Caenorhabditis elegans.


Adam ReevesAdam Reeves (undergraduate, Macdonald Lab) was selected as a K-INBRE Undergraduate Scholar for Spring and Summer of 2015.  His award will support work on the effects of transposable elements on aging-related neurodegeneration in Drosophila melanogaster.

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March 2015 Presentations


Audrey Lamb (associate professor) gave a presentation entitled “Expanding the Results of a High Throughput Screen Against an Isochorismate-Pyruvate Lyase to Enzymes of a Similar Scaffold or Mechanism” in the Focusing on Difficult Target Enzymes session at GTCbio's Inaugural Enzymes in Drug Discovery Conference, February 26 - 27 in San Diego, CA.  She also served as the moderator of the New Chemical Approaches to Target Enzymes session.

Kristi Neufeld (associate professor) gave a presentation entitled “Reconsidering tumorigenesis studies: Genetic modifiers can confound xenografts in outbred Mice” at the second annual KU Cancer Center Cancer Biology Program meeting, February 13 in Lawrence, KS

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March 2015 Publications

Johnson DK, Karanicolas J.  Selectivity of small-molecule inhibitors of protein interactions can be driven by protein surface fluctuationsPLoS Comput Biol: e1004081.

Liu H, Li K, Xu L, Wu D. Bilayered near-infrared fluorescent nanoparticles based on low molecular weight PEI for tumor-targeted in vivo imaging. Journal of Nanoparticle Research 16: 2784.

Zeineldin, M. & Neufeld, K.L. “New insights from animal models of colon cancer: Inflammation control as a new facet on the tumor suppressor APC gem” Gastrointestinal Cancer: Targets and Therapy: 2015:5: 39—52

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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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We are having a Social following our Spring Biological Science Advisory Board Meeting Thursday, April 16, 2015 from 4:15pm to 6:30pm in the Adams Alumni Center. There will be a presentation by Dr. Jerry Workman, Stowers Institute for Medical Research and networking opportunities to meet with KU faculty, alumni, and members from the biosciences community. To RSVP, visit