September 2014 News

We are saddened to learn of the passing of Irving S. Johnson July 10, 2014. Dr. Johnson received his Ph.D. in Zoology from KU and went on to a very successful career in biomedical research.  Among many achievements, Dr. Johnson's pioneering work in recombinant DNA technology at Eli Lily & Company led to the first commercial production of human insulin.  Dr. Johnson endowed the Irving S. Johnson Distinguished Professorship in Molecular Biology which is currently held by Dr. Berl Oakley.  Our deepest sympathies go out to Dr. Johnson's family and all those whose lives he touched.  He will always be remembered for his great contributions to science and his generosity for KU.

Irving S. Johnson Distinguished Professorship in Molecular Biology at the University of Kansas - See more at:
Irving S. Johnson Distinguished Professorship in Molecular Biology at the University of Kansas - See more at:

Dr. Kristi Neufeld Kristi Neufeld (associate professor) had her research highlighted by the KU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences for her article entitled “Nuclear Adenomatous polyposis coli suppresses colitis-associated tumorigenesis in mice ” which appears in the journal Carcinogenesis.  Read the KU Today article entitled “Research offers insight into cell biology of colorectal cancer.”




Dr. Liang Tang Liang Tang (associate professor) served as the convener for the Virus Structure and Assembly section of in the American Society for Virology 2014 annual meeting in Fort Collins, Colorado, June 21-25.




Dr. Erik Lundquist Erik Lundquist (professor) was appointed to the Neurodifferentiation, Plasticity, Regeneration, and Rhythmicity Study Section at the National Institutes of Health for a six year term ending in 2020.  Dr. Lundquist will review grant proposals for the NIH twice a year over this period.




 Jim Orr (professor) will be honored on September 26 as one of two new Chancellors Club professors.  Professor Orr is recognized for his innovative teaching and service as the Director of the Office of Diversity in Science Training.  Read all about his accomplishments in the KU Today article entitled “Researchers named Chancellors Club professors.”



 Josephine Chandler (assistant professor), Scott Hefty (associate professor), and Erik Lundquist (professor) arranged the purchase of a BioRad QX200 Digital Droplet PCR system.  Support from the Center for Molecular Analysis of Disease Pathways NIH COBRE project (Sue Lunte, P.I. (Professor, Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Chemistry)), the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the KU Center for Research, and the Higuchi Biosciences Center was central to obtaining this equipment.  The ddPCR system will be housed in 1030 Haworth, the Genome Sequencing Core Laboratory of the Center for Molecular Analysis of Disease Pathways, and is available for use by all researchers on campus.  This cutting-edge technology provides highly-sensitive and highly-reproducible quantitative analysis of nucleic acids.


 Samantha Hartin (graduate student, Ackley lab) is the recipient of a 2014 Candlin Travel Award. She will attend the Axon Guidance, Synapse Formation and Regeneration Conference September 16th-20th, 2014, in Cold Spring Harbor, New York. She will present a poster entitled "C. elegans Wnt-dependent Anterior-Posterior axon growth of the D-type motor neurons is modulated by sdn-1."



Yamini Mutreja (graduate student, Gamblin lab) received a renewal of her Mabel A. Woodyard Fellowship in Neurodegenerative Disorders from the Institute of Neurological Discoveries of the University of Kansas Medical Center to study the role of tau mutations in Progressive Supranuclear Palsy.



Amy NewtonAmy Newton (2014 doctoral graduate, Benedict lab) has begun a postdoctoral position at the Carter Immunology Center at the University of Virginia School of Medicine under the mentorship of Dr. Tom Braciale.




Amber Smith (graduate student, Xu lab) was the recipient of the Borgendale Award for her talk at the 2014 Graduate Student Symposium entitled "Tumor suppressor miR-137 negatively regulates Musashi-1 and colorectal cancer progression​."



Vinidhra Sridharan (graduate student, Y. Azuma lab) was the recipient of a Hirata Travel Award to attend the 2014 Cold Spring harbor Meeting for Nuclear Organization and Function, August 19 - 23 in Cold Spring Harbor, New York.  Vinidhra presented a poster entitled "SUMOylation regulates Polo-like kinase 1-interacting checkpoint helicase  (PICH) during mitosis."

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September 2014 Presentations

Chris Gamblin (associate professor) gave an invited talk entitled “Novel Inhibitors of Tau Aggregation” as part of the 2014 Alzheimer’s Disease/Parkinson’s Disease Seminar Series at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Department of Pathology, Harvard Medical School on August 12.

Steve Benedict (professor) gave an invited talk entitled “Manipulating the immune response to design therapies for autoimmune disease and transplant rejection in humans, mice and horses" at the Ward Family Heart Center, Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City on August 11.

Susan Egan (professor) gave an invited talk entitled “Novel Antibacterial Strategies with Potential to Reduce Development of Resistance” at the Kansas City Area Life Sciences Institute symposium entitled “Antibiotics: Choosing the Path of Least Resistance” on August 25. 

Berl Oakley (Irving S. Johnson distinguished professor) gave an invited talk entitled “A system for heterologous expression of fungal secondary metabolite genes in Aspergillus nidulans” at the Society for Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology annual meeting in St. Louis on  July 23.

Haiyan Zhao (research associate, Tang lab) gave an invited talk entitled “High resolution structures of a viral DNA-packaging nuclease reveal an unusual metal ion configuration in the active site” at the American Society for Virology 2014 annual meeting in Fort Collins, Colorado, June 21-25.

Yan Xia (Karanicolas lab) successfully defended his doctoral dissertation entitled “Modulating protein function with small molecules through computational and experimental design techniques” on August 15.

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September 2014 Publications

Jain P, Li J, Porubsky P, Neuenswander B, Egan SM, Aube J, Rogers SA.  3-Substituted Biquinolinium Inhibitors of AraC Family Transcriptional Activator VirF from S. flexneri Obtained Through In Situ Chemical Ionization of 3,4-Disubstituted DihydroquinolinesRes Avd. [Epub ahead of print]

Park H, Turkalo TK, Nelson K, Folmsbee SS, Robb C, Roper B, Azuma MEwing sarcoma EWS protein regulates midzone formation by recruiting Auroroa B kinase to the midzoneCell Cycle 13, 2391-2399.

Stetler DA¸ Davis C, Leavitt K, Schriger I, Benson K, Bhakta S, Wang LC, Oben C, Watters M, Haghnegahdar T and Bortolato M.  Association of low-activity MAOA allelic variants with violent crime in incarcerated offendersJ Psychiatr Res [Epub ahead of print]

Zhou B, Yang K, Wills E, Tang L, Baines JD.  A Mutation in the DNA Polymerase Accessory Factor of Herpes Simplex Virus 1 Restores Viral DNA Replication in the Presence of Raltegravir.  J Virol. [Epub ahead of print]

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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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Susan Egan (professor) gave an invited talk entitled “Novel Antibacterial Strategies with Potential to Reduce Development of Resistance” at the Kansas City Area Life Sciences Institute symposium entitled “Antibiotics: Choosing the Path of Least Resistance” on August 25.
Susan M. Egan | Department of Molecular Biosciences
Google Scholar Profile Susan M. Egan ProfessorChair, Department of Molecular Biosciences (785) 864-4294 8031 Haworth Regulation of bacterial transcription, Development of novel anti-bacterial agents. My primary research interest is understanding the regulation of gene expression (especial…