February 2019 News


Dr. Susan Egan (professor and chair), along with David Benson (associate professor, chemistry) and Lynn Hancock (associate professor) were awarded a 3 year grant from the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation to support the Beckman Scholars Program at KU. This prestigious award supports mentored undergraduate research in participating faculty laboratories from the departments of Molecular Biosciences and Chemistry. More details about the program and eligibility requirements can be found                                at (http://beckman.ku.edu/). The application deadline for 2019 scholars is March 1st.


Tony Fehr (assistant professor) was officially awarded a K22 grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) entitled “Investigating How ADP-ribosyation Impacts Innate Immunity During Coronavirus Infection”. ADP-ribosylation is an understudied protein modification that inhibits coronavirus replication and enhance the immune response to these viruses. In this project we will work to identify how ADP-ribosylation impacts these events at a molecular level, which will have implications for therapeutics and vaccine design need to limit disease caused by coronaviruses.


Stuart Macdonald (professor) was awarded a Research Project Grant (R01) from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) entitled "Toxicogenomics of metal response in genetically-variable Drosophila populations". The goal of this award is to use fruit flies to model the response to toxic levels of the metals cadmium, lead, manganese, and mercury. The Macdonald lab will use a combination of genetic mapping, high-throughput genomewide expression analysis, and epigenetic profiling to understand the neurotoxicity of environmental metal exposure, and isolate genes and                                       genetic pathways mediating variable responses to metals in populations.


Berl Oakley (distinguished professor) has been elected to the Board of Trustees of the Kansas University Center for Research (2019-2023) and appointed to the Executive Committee of The Kansas University Center for Research (2019)



Dan Dixon (associate professor) published a Correspondence in Nature entitled “Stolen-colon storm could boost cancer screening.” 




Joanna Slusky (assistant professor) published an article in eLife entitled, “Evolutionary pathways of repeat protein topology in bacterial outer membrane proteins.” The importance of this work was also described in an Insight article in eLife.



Thelma Chiremba (graduate student, Neufeld lab) was awarded a Graduate Student and Post-Doctoral Travel (GPT) grant within the 2019 Research Excellence Initiative. This fund will support Thelma’s travel to attend The Gastrointestinal Tract XVIII Conference: Integrated Biology of the GI-Super Organ to be held in Steamboat Springs, Colorado from July 28 to August 2, 2019.




Nikola Kenjic and Jeff McFarlane (graduate students, Lamb lab) were both recipients                               of the Graduate Scholarly Presentation Awards from KU Graduate Studies to attend the Enzyme Mechanisms Conference in New Orleans, January 6-9. Nikola presented a poster entitled “3,4-dihydroxy-2-butanone 4-phospahte synthase (RibB) of riboflavin biosynthesis has a mononuclear magnesium active site.”  Jeff’s poster was called “An opine on opines: the biosynthesis of opine metallophores in bacterial pathogens.”


Natalie Eppler (undergraduate, Chandler lab) was awarded a K-INBRE undergraduate scholarship (spring/summer 2019) and a KU Undergraduate research assistance ship (spring 2019) to perform research in my lab centered around discovering antimicrobials produced by the bacterium Burkholderia thailandensis.


Collette Wright (undergraduate, Lamb lab) has been named to the K-INBRE Scholars Program for the spring and summer semesters. Collette will be studying the non-allosteric pyruvate kinase from Zymomonas mobilis, doing both kinetic and x-ray crystallography experiments. 


Colby Spiess (undergraduate, Dixon lab) was awarded a 2019 K-INBRE Undergraduate Scholarship to continue his studies of HuR regulation of the mTOR pathway in colon cancer.






Vaughn Craddock (undergraduate, Chandler lab) was invited to give a talk at the K-INBRE symposium in Overland Park in January and won the award for best talk! His talk was titled “Quorum sensing control of antibiotic resistance in the bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa.”




Lindsay Ussher joined the Unckless lab as an assistant researcher. Lindsay's main responsibilities will be to oversee the Drosophila CRISPR genome editing work in the lab. He graduated from KU in December 2018 with a degree in Biology and worked in Rob Ward's (KU MB) lab. 







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February 2019 Presentations

Tony Fehr (assistant professor) gave a seminar at KUMC titled “New insights into mechanisms of coronavirus innate immune evasion” on January 17.


Rob Unckless (assistant professor) gave an invited seminar at the University of Toronto Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology entitled "The causes of balancing selection on immune genes: from populations to molecular interactions” on January 18th. 


David Davido (associate professor) gave an invited talk entitled “Virus-host interactions regulate the switch between HSV-1 lytic and latent infections” in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at LSUHSC-Shreveport on January 9. 



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February 2019 Publications

Mutreja Y, Combs B, Gamblin TC (2018) FTDP-17 mutations alter the aggregation and microtubule stabilization propensity of tau in an isoform-specific fashion. Biochemistry. In Press. DOI: 10.1021/acs.biochem.8b01039


Kenjic N, Hoag MR, Moraski GC, Caperelli CA, Moran GR, Lamb AL.  PvdF of pyoverdin biosynthesis is a structurally unique N10-formyltetrahydrofolate-dependent formyltransferaseArch Biochem Biophys [Epub ahead of print]


Green LC, Anthony SR, Slone S, Lanzillotta L, Nieman ML, Wu X, Robbins N, Jones SM, Roy S, Owens Iii AP, Aube J, Xu L, Lorenz JN, Blaxall BC, Rubinstein J, Benoit JB, Tranter M. Human antigen R as a therapeutic target in pathological cardiac hypertrophy. JCI Insight. 2019 Jan 22. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 30668549.

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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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