March 2017 News 

Rob Unckless (assistant professor) recently published a paper in Genetics entitled “Evolution of resistance against CRISPR/Cas9 Gene Drive” that was highlighted on the cover of the journal (see right).  The article was featured in Nature, The Atlantic, Quanta Magazine, and on NovaNext.  Check out the KU Today article "Research shows nature can beat back scientific tinkering with genes of entire species."



Robert Ward (associate professor) is the recipient of a National Science Foundation award from the Division of Integrative Organismal Systems for his project entitled “Investigating novel functions of septate junction proteins during morphogenesis in Drosophila.” The final shape of an animal is determined by developmental events that rely on morphogenetic (change in form) processes including cell shape changes and cell rearrangements. The Ward lab conducted a genetic screen in Drosophila (fruit flies), and discovered that proteins that make up the occluding (septate) junction in the fly are also required for morphogenetic processes. The goal of this grant is elucidate the molecular mechanisms by which this collection of proteins regulates morphogenesis during embryogenesis in the fly.


Liang Xu (Professor) is a co-investigator of a recently funded National Cancer Institute Research Project Grant with Jonathan Brody (PI, Thomas Jefferson University School of Medicine) entitled “Targeting HuR to improve a synthetic lethal therapy for pancreatic cancer.” The goal of this project is to determine the role of HuR in promoting a resistance mechanism for pancreatic adenocarcinoma exposed to PARP inhibitors.



Audrey Lamb (professor) is a co-investigator on a recently funded National Institute of General Medical Sciences Research Project Grant entitled “Towards exome analyses: Surprising outcomes from mutating non-conserved positions.”  Liskin Swint-Kruse (KUMC) is leading this project, in collaboration with Aron Fenton (KUMC) and Paul Smith (KState).  The goal of this work is to understand the functional effect of protein variants at rheostat positions for soluble, allosteric enzymes.


 Chris Gamblin (professor) and Berl Oakley (Irving S. Johnson distinguished professor) are the recipients of a renewal award from the H. L. Snyder Medical Foundation for their proposal entitled “Development of novel anti-tau agents for treatment of Alzheimer's disease.”  The goal of this work is to develop compounds based on fungal natural products that disassemble tau aggregates and counteract the neuropathological effects of tau in Alzheimer's disease and other dementias.



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March 2017 Presentations

Stuart Macdonald (associate professor) gave an invited lecture entitled “Leveraging a multiparental population to dissect the genetic basis of variation in Drosophila” in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh on February 20.

Audrey Lamb (professor) gave an invited lecture entitled “Iron In: Unusual regulation of siderophore biosynthesis” in the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Department of Penn State on January 31.


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March 2017 Publications

De Vries RP. . .Oakley BR. . .Grigoriev IV.  Comparative genomics reveals high biological diversity and specific adaptations in the industrially and medically important fungal genus Aspergillus. Genome Biol. 18:28.

Unckless RL, Clark AG, Messer PW.  Evolution of resistance against CRISPR/Cas9 gene driveGenetics 205, 827-841.


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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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