April 2016 News

Yoshi Azuma (associate professor) had his research featured in an article entitled “Pinpointing the chromosomal creation of cancer” in the latest issue of KUCC Cancer Communications.





Berl Oakley (Irving S. Johnson distinguished professor) is the recipient of funding from Pacific Northwest National Laboratories for his project entitled “Expression of Polyketide Synthases in Aspergillus nidulans.”  The overall project funding is from the Department of Energy.  The goal of this work is to discover new compounds that can be produced cheaply by the fungus Aspergillus nidulans as it grows on biological feedstocks, and that can be readily converted to biomedically-relevant chemical compounds.



Ilya Vakser (professor) is the recipient of funding from the Division of Biological Infrastructure of the National Science Foundation for his proposal entitled “Modeling protein interactions to interpret genetic variation.”  The project will result in an integrated approach for large-scale prediction of protein structures and their association. A database of predicted structures and complexes for model organisms will be established upon which genetic variants will be mapped and their phenotypic effects assessed. The grant is awarded under the US NSF/BIO - UK BBSRC joint program (UK collaborator - Professor Michael Sternberg, Imperial College London).


Christian Gomez (graduate student, Neufeld lab) received a Peer Reviewed Cancer Research Program Horizon Award from the Department of Defense office of the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs  to study “A Role for APC in Goblet Cell Function and the Unfolded Protein Response”. The Horizon Award allows junior investigators to “develop a research project investigating a problem or question in the field of cancer, conduct impactful research with the mentorship of an experienced cancer researcher and further their intellectual development as a cancer researcher of the future”. Gomez was one of 4 graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in the colorectal cancer topic area chosen for this award, which will provide stipend, supply and travel funds for a year.


Kelly Harrison and Scott Labrie (graduate students, Hefty lab) were both recipients of Outstanding Graduate Student Poster Presentation Awards at the Missouri Valley Branch Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology in Kansas City on March 4-5.  Kelly’s presentation was entitled “Discovery of Genetic Correlates Encoded by Chlamydia that are Important for Mammalian Infection,” and Scott’s presentation was “Phenotypic Analysis of Transposon Mutant Strains of Chlamydia trachomatis."



Kawaljit Kaur (graduate student, De Guzman lab) is the recipient of the 2016 Philip & Marjorie Newmark Award for excellence in biochemical research for her project and presentation entitled, "Azaphilones derived from a fungal natural product inhibit the HuR-mRNA interaction", a collaborative project with Liang Xu.  Chad Highfill (graduate student, Macdonald lab) was also a finalist for the award.   



Kathryn Brewer (undergraduate, Lamb lab) has been selected to be a Beckman Scholar, a 15 month program to conduct innovative mentored research here at KU.  Kathryn receives research and travel stipends and supply funds to conduct her research project.  Kathryn will be studying the enzymes of siderophore biosynthesis.  Read more in the KU Today article.



Mackenzie Bloom (undergraduate, Neufeld lab) was the winner of the “Research is a Process” category of the Image of Research competition sponsored by The University of Kansas Libraries.  She was also chosen to serve as Ambassador for program in the upcoming year.  The winning images, including the one on the right, and her descriptions are found here.



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April 2016 Presentations

Josie Chandler (assistant professor) gave a talk entitled “Making friends to make war: quorum sensing, cooperation and interspecies competition” at the Missouri Valley Branch Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology in Kansas City on March 4.

Scott Hefty (associate professor) gave the keynote lecture at the German Workshop on Chlamydia in Freiburg, Germany on March 16-18.  The presentation was entitled “Genetic Tools for Chlamydia.

John Karanicolas (associate professor) gave two talks in March.  He spoke on “Chemical tools to modulate p53 folding in cells” at the 251st American Chemical Society National Meeting and Symposium in San Diego, California, March 13-17.  He discussed “Modulating Antibody Activity using Chemical Biology” at the Antibody Biology & Engineering Gordon Research Conference in Galveston, Texas, March 20-25.

Chris Gamblin (professor) gave a talk entitled “Fungal Metabolome as a rich resource for tau aggregation inhibitors” in the Bioactives & Neurodenerative Diseases session In the Division of Agricultural and Food Chemistry at the 251st American Chemical Society National Meeting and Symposium in San Diego, California, March 13-17. 

Audrey Lamb (professor) have an invited talk entitled “Pyochelin biosynthesis: the enzymes from A to Z” in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Missouri-Kansas City on March 3.

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April 2016 Publications

Ray JCJ.  Survival of Phenotypic Information during Cellular Growth Transitions.  ACS Synth Biol. {Epub ahead of print].

Ray JCJ, Wickersheim ML, Jalihal AP, Adeshina YO, Cooper TF, Balázsi G. Cellular Growth Arrest and Persistence from Enzyme SaturationPLoS Comput Biol. 12(3):e1004825.

Wang X, Hinshaw KC, Macdonald SJ, Chandler JRDraft genome sequence of Chromobacterium violaceum strain CV017Genome Accounc 4(2): e00080-16.

Wu X, Tang W, Marquez RT, Li K, Highfill CA, He F, Lian J, Lin J, Fuchs JR, Ji M, Li L, Xu LOvercoming chem/radio-resistance of pancreatic cancer by inhibiting STAT3 signalingOncotarget [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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