September 2018 News   

Anthony Fehr (assistant professor) joins the Department of Molecular Biosciences faculty.  Dr. Fehr received his Ph.D. at Washington University-St. Louis in the lab of Dong Yu where he studied the molecular biology of Human Cytomegalovirus (HCMV). He subsequently completed his postdoctoral research with Stanley Perlman at the University of Iowa, where he studied the role and mechanisms by which coronavirus genes impact virus replication and pathogenesis. The Fehr lab at KU will continue to study the mechanisms that these genes use to overcome host anti-viral defenses, and identify novel compounds that can target these genes and act as anti-viral                                                     therapeutics. Welcome Dr. Fehr!

Krzysztof Kuczera (professor) was awarded an NSF grant from the Chemistry of Life Processes Program in the Division of Chemistry along with co-investigator Carey Johnson (Chemistry) and Gouri Jas (Pharmacy) for work entitled, “Dynamic Elements: effects of co-solvents on peptide folding pathways”. The goal is to combine ultra-fast spectroscopy and molecular modeling to elucidate the folding pathways of structured peptides in the presence of stabilizing and destabilizing co-solvents, such as urea, guanidinium chloride and proline.


Liang Xu (professor) is co-investigator and PI of a sub award on a National Institutes of Health Research Grant entitled “Robust rational design of chemical tools to inhibit RNA-binding proteins.”  The PI is John Karanicolas (Fox Chase Cancer Center), and the goal of the project is to identify novel inhibitors of protein-RNA interaction with a new computational modeling.



Erik A. Lundquist (professor) will serve as chair of the National Institutes of Health grant review study section Neurodifferentiation, Plasticity, Regeneration, and Rhythmicity.  Dr. Lundquist will lead the thrice-yearly meetings at which researchers from across the country review ~70 applications for funding related to neuronal development, funtion, circuitry, and physiology.



Steve Benedict (professor) was one of six speakers at the KU memorial service honoring the late Del Shankel and his many contributions to the university that stretched across nearly 60 years of service. Professor Shankel contributed as a faculty member and in a long list of administrative positions including athletic director and chancellor of the university. Steve’s comments highlighted Del’s contributions to the field of microbiology with his co-founding of a sub-discipline of science, his love of a good (and bad) joke, especially when they could enhance his teaching efforts, and his remarkable kindness toward everyone. Del adopted Kansas and KU as his permanent home. He was known throughout the state with affection, and represented our interests nationally and internationally with enthusiasm. He is remembered as a gentleman, a scientist, a teacher, a mentor, an administrator, a friend and a Kansan; and he is always remembered with a smile.

Elizabeth Everman (postdoc, Macdonald lab) is the recipient of a Kansas IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (K-INBRE) Postdoctoral Fellowship entitled "Genetic dissection of variation in copper resistance across multiple life stages in Drosophila melanogaster". Dr. Everman will use funds to continue her work to determine the genes and gene networks responsible for variable metal response.


Catie Shelton (former post doc, Lamb lab) began an assistant professor position in the department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the Northern Kentucky University on August 15.  Catie will be teaching biochemistry at this Primarily Undergraduate Institution, and will continue the research goals she started during her time here at KU, including structural biology and mechanistic enzymology of proteins from human pathogens.



Trey Ronnebaum (graduate student, Lamb lab) successfully defended his doctoral dissertation entitled “Adenylation and tailoring activities in the nonribosomal peptide synthesis of the siderophore pyochelin” on August 17. Trey will be starting a postdoctoral position at the University of Pennsylvania in the laboratory of David Christianson at the beginning of September.



Letty Beltran joined the De Guzman lab as a part of KU’s PREP Program after spending a year in Dr. Scott Hefty’s lab studying C. trachomatis. In Dr. De Guzman's lab she will be studying the binding between the tip and translocon proteins of the Type 3 Secretion System in Burkholderia pseudomallei


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September 2018 Presentations

Yinglong Miao (assistant professor) (2018) gave several talks: (1) “Binding Modes and Effects of Allosteric Drug Leads in the Adenosine A1 Receptor”; (2) “Ligand Binding Pathways and Conformational Transitions of the HIV Protease”; (3) “Mechanism of the G-Protein Mimetic Nanobody Binding to a Muscarinic G-Protein-Coupled Receptor”; and (4) “Acceleration of Biomolecular Kinetics in Gaussian Accelerated Molecular Dynamics” at the 2018 American Chemical Society National Meeting in Boston, MA from Aug 19-23. 

Rob Unckless (assistant professor) gave a talk entitled “Mechanistic convergence in genetic conflict across species” at the Midwest Population Genetics Meeting in Minneapolis, Minnesota on August 24th.

Roberto De Guzman (professor) gave a talk entitled "NMR of translocon of bacterial nanoinjectors" at the 28th International Conference on Magnetic Resonance in Biological Systems held at the University College Dublin, Ireland on Aug. 19-24, 2018.

Liang Xu (professor) gave an invited talk entitled “CRISPR Technology in Precision Cancer Medicine” at the 2018 One Health Research Symposium in Kansas City on August 19.

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September 2018 Publications

Bandyopadhyay A, Wang H, Ray JCJ. Lineage space and the propensity of bacterial cells to undergo growth transitions. PLoS Comput Biol. 2018 Aug 22;14(8):e1006380. doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1006380

McElfresh GC, Ray JCJ. 2018. Intergenerational Cellular Signal Transfer and Erasure. In: The interplay of thermodynamics and computation in natural and artificial systems. D. Wolpert, C. Kempes, J. Grochow and P. Stadler, Eds. Santa Fe Institute Press.

Franklin MW, Slusky JSG. Tight Turns of Outer Membrane Proteins: An Analysis of Sequence, Structure, and Hydrogen Bonding. J Mol Biol. 2018 Sep 14;430(18 Pt B):3251-3265. doi: 10.1016/j.jmb.2018.06.013. Epub 2018 Jun 23.

Kato J, Dey S, Soto JE, Butan C, Wilkinson MC, De Guzman RN, Galan JE. A protein secreted by the Salmonella type III secretion system controls needle filament assembly. eLife, 7, e35886, 2018. 

Gujar MR, Sundararajan L, Stricker A, Lundquist EA. Control of Growth Cone Polarity, Microtubule Accumulation, and Protrusion by UNC-6/Netrin and Its Receptors in Caenorhabditis elegans. Genetics. 2018 Jul 25. pii: genetics.301234.2018. doi: 10.1534/genetics.118.301234. [Epub ahead of print]PMID:30045855

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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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