May 2015 News

Mizuki Azuma has been promoted to associate professor with tenure. Dr. Azuma earned her PhD at The Osaka University (Japan), was a postdoctoral fellow at the NICHD/NIH, and was a staff scientist at the NCI/NIH. Her laboratory aims to elucidate the molecular pathogenesis of a childhood bone cancer, Ewing sarcoma.




Chris Gamblin has been promoted to full professor. Dr. Gamblin has been at KU since 2003, after a post-doctoral position at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University and completion of a Ph.D. at Vanderbilt University. His laboratory is aimed at understanding the molecular mechanisms of the aggregation of the microtubule-associated protein tau into fibrils that cause neurodegeneration in Alzheimer’s disease and related neurological disorders.


Wonpil Im has been promoted to full professor. Dr. Im earned his Ph.D. at Weill Medical College of Cornell University, was a post-doctoral fellow at the Scripps Research Institute, and joined KU in 2005. His research area is computational biology with particular focuses on structure, dynamics, and function of membrane proteins and glycoconjugates.



Dr. Audrey LambAudrey Lamb has been promoted to full professor.  Dr. Lamb earned her Ph.D. at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Northwestern University.  Her research is focused on understanding the structure-function relationships of enzymes involved in iron-scavenging by pathogenic bacteria.



Kristi Neufeld (associate professor) is the recipient of funding from the Division of Integrative Organismal Systems of the National Science Foundation for her proposal entitled “Collaborative Research: Beta-catenin Regulation during Asymmetric Stem Cell Divisions”. This research program will focus on stem cells which use asymmetric cell division (ACD) to generate a differentiated daughter and a new stem cell.  Regulation of ACD is critical for developmental cell fate specification and maintenance of tissue homeostasis. The overall goal of this 3-year project is to collaborate with Dr. Bryan Phillips from University of Iowa to elucidate the mechanisms of beta-catenin regulation during ACD by analyzing regulation of the C. elegans beta-catenin, SYS-1, and to test the resulting mechanisms in mammals.


Liang Xu (associate professor) had his research highlighted in a recent article entitled “Molecules that block previously ‘undruggable’ protein tied to cancer’s onset“ in KU Today.  In collaboration with Jeff Aube (Medicinal Chemistry) and Jon Tunge (Chemistry), the researchers have identified small molecule inhibitors of the HuR-RNA binding protein that is linked to breast, prostate, colon, brain, ovary, pancreas, and lung cancers.   The article describing the work was published in ACS Chemical BiologyWatch Dr. Xu and his lab in a report on the research on 41 Action News.


Lan Lan (postdoc, Xu lab) presented a poster entitled “Small molecule inhibitors of Musashi family of RNA-binding proteins” at the 2015 American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, April 18-22.  Lan received an Unclassified Senate Professional Development Award to participate in the meeting.



Sarah Xiaoqing Wu (postdoc, Xu lab) presented a poster entitled “Targeting an ‘undruggable’ RNA-binding protein: Discovery of small molecule inhibitors of HuR for novel breast cancer therapy” at the 2015 American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, April 18-22.  Sarah received a Scholar-in-Training Award to participate in the meeting, recognizing “outstanding proffered papers by early-career scientists relating to colorectal cancer research.”  The award was sponsored by Millennium: The Takeda Oncology Company


Sonia Hall (graduate student, Ward lab) was a member of a delegation for the Genetics Society of America to visit Capitol Hill to advocate for federal science funding and policies that promote scientific research and training.  She met with Senator Jerry Moran and Representatives Kevin Yoder and Lynn Jenkins, providing the perspective of early career scientists to our nation’s policymakers.    Sonia is pictured with Eduardo Rosa-Molinar (University of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras), Lynn Jenkins, Adam Fagen (executive director, GSA), and Roy Jensen (KU Cancer Center). [photo from the GSA Newsletter]


Amber Smith (graduate student, Xu lab) is the recipient of the 2015 Newmark Award for excellence in biochemistry research for her project which she described in a presentation entitled, “Therapeutic strategies targeting the RNA binding protein Musashi-1 in colorectal cancer.”  Other finalists for the prize were Nabil Alhakamy (Berkland lab), Smita Paranjape (Gamblin lab), Vinidhra Sridharan (Y. Azuma lab).  Amber (right) is pictured receiving her prize from Professor Karen Allen of Boston University, who presented the Philip and Marjorie Newmark Lecture in Biochemistry.


Andy Wolfe (graduate student, Neufeld lab) was the recipient of a Twomey Travel Award to attend and present a poster at the Experimental Biology meeting March 28- April 1 in Boston.  The EB meeting serves as the annual meeting for six sponsoring professional research societies.  Andy belongs to the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) which provided Andy additional financial support with a Graduate/Postdoctoral Travel Award.  Andy’s poster was entitled, “TGF-β and Wnt Crosstalk Require SMAD 3 for Msi1 Induction in Colon”.  Andy (right) is shown with Matt Miller (left; see below) and Dr. Neufeld.



Matthew Miller (undergraduate, Neufeld lab) received funds as a K-INBRE Star Trainee and a Travel Award from the Center for Undergraduate Research to attend and present a poster at the Experimental Biology meeting March 28- April 1 in Boston.  Matt’s poster was entitled, “A role for nuclear APC in intestinal cellular differentiation revealed by mouse model.”  Matt is pictured above with Andy Wolfe and Dr. Neufeld.


Jessica van Loben Sels (undergraduate, Davido lab) has been awarded a prestigious Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, the nation’s premier undergraduate award for academically gifted students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.  Jessica studies how cellular factors affect herpes simplex virus-1 (HSV-1) gene expression and plans to pursue a doctorate in microbiology, focusing on viruses and the diseases they cause.




The following students won poster prizes at the 18th Annual University of Kansas Undergraduate Research Symposium:

Lauren Arney (Lamb lab, shown left): Discovering the structure of the allosteric sites in pyruvate kinase
Kayla Wilson (Ward lab, shown right): the role of fasciclin III (Fas3) in Drosophila melanogaster septate junction


Jake Rowe (undergraduate, Biostore) was named KU Student Employee of the Year.  The award includes a plaque and a big check for $500 presented by Big Jay.



More news


May 2015 Presentations

Mizuki Azuma (assistant professor) gave an invited seminar entitled “Function of EWS in mitosis and tumorigenesis” at the Inaugural Ewing Sarcoma Symposium sponsored by Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers and Baylor College of Medicine on April 23.

Lynn Hancock (associate professor) gave an invited seminar entitled “The role of peptide signaling in Enterococcus faecalis” at the University of Texas Health Sciences Center at Houston in the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics on April 9.

John Karanicolas (associate professor) gave an invited seminar entitled “New computational approaches for addressing non-traditional drug targets” to the KU Cancer Center on April 28.

Angela Fowler (graduate student, Davido Lab) gave a talk entitled “Determining the Roles CDKs 1, 2, 4, & 6 Play in Regulating the Activities of HSV-1 ICP0” at the 2015 Nebraska Center for Virology Annual Retreat.

Jessica van Loben Sels (undergraduate, Davido) gave a talk entitled “The N-terminus of the HSV-1 E3 Ubiquitin Ligase ICP0 Stimulates Viral Replication and Gene Expression in Cells Exposed to Interferon-beta” at the 2015 Nebraska Center for Virology Annual Retreat.

More Presentations

May 2015 Publications

Boutell C, Davido DJ. A quantitative assay to monitor HSV-1 ICP0 ubiquitin ligase activity in vitro. Methods 2015 Apr 8 [Epub ahead of print]

 Lan L, Appelman C, Smith AR, Yu J, Larsen S, Marquez RT, Wu X, Gao P, Roy A, Anbanandam A, Gowthaman R, Karanicolas J, De Guzman RN, Rogers SA, Aube J, Ji M, Cohen RS, Neufeld KL, Xu L. Natural product (–)-gossypol inhibits colon cancer cell growth by targeting RNA-binding protein Musashi-1. Molecular Oncology 2015 (in press)

Paranjape SR, Riley AP, Somoza AD, Oakley CE, Wang CC, Prisinzano TE, Oakley BR, Gamblin TC. Azaphilones Inhibit Tau Aggregation and Dissolve Tau Aggregates in Vitro. ACS Chemical Neuroscience 2015 Apr 15 [Epub ahead of print]

Smith AR, Marquez RT, Tsao W-C, Pathak S, Roy A, Ping J, Wilkerson B, Lan L, Meng W, Neufeld KL, Sun X-F, Xu L. Tumor Suppressive microRNA-137 Negatively Regulates Musashi-1 in Colorectal Cancer. Oncotarget 2015 (in press).

 More Publications

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Jamie Dyer, Ph.D. (Ph.D., 2010, Lundquist lab) has accepted a tenure-track assistant professor position starting in Fall 2015 at Rockhurst University in Kansas City, MO.