May 2016 News

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Eric Deeds has been promoted to associate professor with tenure. Dr.  Deeds earned his PhD at Harvard University, and was a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard Medical School.  His lab is focused on understanding the self-assembly dynamics of macromolecular machines, as well as the flow of information in complex signaling networks.




Roberto De Guzman has been promoted to full professor.  Dr. De Guzman earned his Ph.D. at the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), was a post-doctoral fellow at the Scripps Research Institute, and joined KU in 2005.  His research area is in NMR structural biology of bacterial virulence proteins with a goal of developing new antibiotics.




Kristi Neufeld has been promoted to full professor.  Dr. Neufeld was a research assistant professor in the Department of Oncological Sciences at the Huntsman Cancer Institute before she relocated to KU in 2003.  Prior to that, she completed a PhD and post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Utah.  Her laboratory is focused on understanding how the Adenomatous polyposis coli (APC) protein suppresses colon carcinogenesis.



Liang Xu has been promoted to full professor.  Dr. Xu earned his Ph.D. at Forth Military Medical University in China, and obtained postdoctoral training at Stanford University.  He started his lab on cancer biology at University of Michigan and relocated to KU in 2010.  His research is focused on cancer drug discovery targeting cancer stem cells and translational research on precision cancer medicine.




Christian Ray (assistant professor) is the recipient of a Pilot Project Grant from the Center for Molecular Analysis of Disease Pathways (CMADP) NIH Center for Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) for his proposal entitled “An integrative platform for cell-resolution analysis of the acute-to-chronic transition in bacterial pathogens.”  The goal of this work is to understand how changes in the rate of cellular growth affect the ability of bacteria to survive stressful situations, opening new avenues for treating infections that resist antibiotic treatment.


Kelly Harrison (graduate student, Hefty lab) is the recipient of the 2015-16 KU Graduate Research Competition Award, based on her poster presentation entitled “Discovery of Genetic Correlates Encoded by Chlamydia that are Important for Mammalian Infection” on March 27.  The award includes a cash prize to be awarded at the Graduate Student Awards Ceremony on April 27. 



Annie Lynn (undergraduate student, Tang lab) is the recipient of a Goldwater Scholarship.  The United States Congress established the program in 1986, and it focuses on ensuring a continuing source of scientists, mathematicians and engineers. The scholarship provides up to $7,500 annually to cover undergraduate tuition, fees, room and board, and books.  Read more in the KU Today article Two KU Juniors earn Goldwater Scholarships.



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May 2016 Presentations

Christian Ray (assistant professor) gave a talk entitled “Lineage as a conception of space in compartmental stochastic processes across cellular populations” at the Advances in numerical and analytical approaches for the study of non-spatial stochastic dynamical systems in molecular biology workshop at the Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences at Cambridge University in Cambridge, UK on April 8.  

Eric Deeds (associate professor) gave two invited talks in April.  He spoke on “The noise is the signal: information flow in single cells and cellular populations” at the Advances in numerical and analytical approaches for the study of non-spatial stochastic dynamical systems in molecular biology workshop at the Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences at Cambridge University in Cambridge, UK on April 6.  He also gave a seminar on “Crosstalk and the evolvabililty of intracellular communication” in the Département d'Informatique, École Normale Supérieure in Paris, France.

Stuart Macdonald (associate professor) gave a presentation entitled “Dissecting Complex Trait Variation in Flies Using a Multiparental Mapping Population” at the University of Oklahoma, Department of Biology in Norman on April 20.

Roberto De Guzman (professor) gave a talk at the Type III Secretion Systems 2016 meeting at the University of Tuebingen, Germany on April 5 entitled “The (un)structure of LcrG and PcrG”.  He also gave seminars at the University of Potsdam (near Berlin) on April 7 and another seminar at Ruhr University Bochum on Apr 14.  The title of his seminar in Potsdam and Bochum was “NMR Studies of Bacterial Nanoinjectors.”  

Berl Oakley (Irving S. Johnson distinguished professor) gave two talks in Europe recently.  At Asperfest 13 (the Thirteenth International Aspergillus Meeting) in Paris, France on April 3, Berl spoke about “Building a diamond-level assembly of the Aspergillus nidulans genome.”  He also visited Novartis in Basel, Switzerland and spoke on “Engineering Aspergillus nidulans for natural product discovery and production” on April 8.

The following students successfully defended their doctoral dissertations:

        Olivia Arizmendi (Wendy Picking lab) on April 28; “Investigation of the Effector Role of IpaD from the Type III Secretion System of Shigella flexneri

        Matthew Josephson (Lundquist lab) on April 29; “New roles for Hox and Wnt in Cell Migration”

        Vinidhra Sridharan (Y. Azuma lab) on April 27; “SUMOylation in centromere organization: Regulation of a putative chromatin remodeler, Polo-like kinase 1 interacting checkpoint helicase (PICH) by mitotic SUMOylation”

KyeongMin Bae (Richter lab) successfully defended his master’s thesis entitled “Role of Zinc in Parkin RING2 E3 Ubiquitin Ligase Ubiquitination” on April 27.


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May 2016 Publications

Nariya MK, Israeli J, Shi JJ, Deeds EJ.  Mathematical model for length control by the timing of substrate switching in the type III secreation systemPLoS Comput Biol: e1004851.


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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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