August 2019 News

Dr. Simon Atkinson (professor) joins the faculty of the Department of Molecular Biosciences. Dr. Atkinson has been selected to lead the University of Kansas Office of Research as the new vice chancellor for research. Atkinson will advocate for research on and off campus, implement research integrity requirements, and, through the KU Center for Research (KUCR), oversee the administration of research grants and contracts at the Lawrence campus. Atkinson was the vice chancellor for research at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), and the associate vice president for research for Indiana University. Atkinson was a chancellor's professor at IUPUI as well as professor of biology in the School of Science and an adjunct professor of medicine and of biochemistry and molecular biology. He studies acute kidney injury with the goal of developing strategies to prevent or treat kidney injuries that can be caused by heart failure, cardiac surgery, and toxins. Dr. Atkinson obtained a bachelor’s degree in cell and molecular biology from King’s College London, from there he got his doctorate in molecular biology from the University of Cambridge, and then was a post-doctoral fellow at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Welcome Dr. Atkinson to KU and to the department of Molecular Biosciences!


Josie Chandler (assistant professor) received an R35 (MIRA) grant from the NIH/NIGMS entitled “The evolution and function of quorum sensing in mixed microbial communities.” This grant will fund research in the Chandler lab over the next five years. The work will investigate how bacterial communication systems regulate interactions among members of complex microbial communities such as those found in infections.


Erik Holmstrom (assistant professor) was awarded a Research Project from the Center for Molecular Analysis of Disease Pathways (CMADP), an NIH Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE). This award provides support for his Research Project entitled, “Molecular mechanisms of Hepatitis C Virus nucleocapsid-like particle assembly.” The goal of this project is to understand how key biomolecular interactions govern viral assembly using an integrative combination of single-molecule fluorescence experiments, microfluidics, and biochemical inhibitors.


Audrey Lamb (professor) is the recipient of a Collaborative Research Grant entitled “The Chemistry of Riboflavin Biosynthesis” from the Chemistry of Life Processes program at the National Science Foundation.  Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) is essential in all organisms, facilitating biological reactions that include cellular energy production, photosynthesis, DNA repair and response to oxidative stress. Working with Prof. Graham Moran at the Loyola University Chicago, the focus of this research is to define the enzymatic mechanisms of the unusual deformylation reactions of RibA and RibB and the unconventional multi-activity of RibD. This basic science knowledge may provide strategies for the development of antimicrobial drugs. 


David Davido (professor) served as co-chair of the Priscilla Schaffer Lecture and selection committee chair for the Priscilla Schaffer Graduate Student and Postdoctoral Travel Awards at the 44th International Herpesvirus Workshop in Knoxville, TN, from July 20-24, 2019.  He also presented a poster entitled "Simple and rapid high-throughput assay to examine HSV-1 ICP0 transactivator function”.


Jennifer Amrein (graduate student, Dixon lab) was awarded a Young Investigator award to attend the Genomic Medicine Short Course, September 9-12 at Children's Mercy Hospital

Wendy Aquino Nunez (graduate student, Ackley lab) was appointed to the National Institutes of Health Graduate Training Program in the Dynamic Aspects of Chemical Biology on July 1.  She will also be pursuing a KU Graduate Certificate in Chemical Biology along with her doctorate in our department.

David Ingham (graduate student, Gamblin lab) and Meghan Franklin (graduate student, Slusky lab) were awarded Graduate Certificates in Chemical Biology on July 17.

Anupama Kante (Deeds Lab) became one of the winners of the graduate student Poster Competition at the Protein Society’s 33rd Annual Symposium, in Seattle, Washington, Jun 30-Jul 3, 2019, where she presented her poster, "Kinetic Trapping and Robustness in Proteasome assembly”.

Jenn Klaus (graduate student, Chandler lab) presented a poster entitled “The role of malleilactone, a Burkholderia pseudomallei cytotoxic polyketide, in bacterial iron acquisition” at the 2019 annual meeting of the Society of Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology conference in Washington DC on July 21. She also won the Carol D. Litchfield Outstanding Student Poster Presentation Award.


Nikola Kenjic (graduate student, Lamb lab) successfully defended his dissertation entitled “The Road Less Travelled: utilization of formate in two biochemical reactions in Gram-negative bacteria” on July 2.

Congratulations to Sonia Hall, who received her PhD from MB working with Rob Ward, for her selection as the new President and CEO of BioKansas.

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August 2019 Presentations

Josie Chandler (assistant professor) gave an invited talk entitled “Microbial Twitter: communication, cooperation and competition in bacteria” and session co-chair at the Society of Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology conference in Washington DC on July, 24 2019.

Anthony Fehr (assistant professor) gave an invited talk entitled “The coronavirus macrodomain is required to prevent PARP-mediated inhibition of virus replication and enhancement of IFN expression” at the 38th annual American Society for Virology Meeting, July 20-24, Minneapolis Minnesota.

David Davido (professor) gave a talk entitled "A high-throughput assay to examine HSV-1 ICP0 transactivation function during acute infection and reactivation" at the Colorado Alphaherpesvirus Latency Symposium in Vail, CO, May 8-10. He also served on its planning committee. 

Stuart Macdonald (professor) gave a talk entitled "Genomewide expression analysis of the adult female gut in the Drosophila Synthetic Population Resource" at the Evolution Conference 2019, Providence, RI, June 21-25.

Elizabeth Everman (postdoc, Macdonald lab) gave a talk entitled "The genetic basis of copper resistance in Drosophila melanogaster" at the Evolution Conference 2019, Providence, RI, June 21-15.

Dianarys Hernandez-Aquino (graduate student, Macdonald lab) gave a talk entitled "Using CRISPR-Cas9 to directly test the role of Cyp12d1 in caffeine resistance in Drosophila melanogaster" at the Evolution Conference 2019, Providence, RI, June 21-15.

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August 2019 Publications

Benomar S, Evans K, Unckless R and Chandler JR. Efflux pumps in Chromobacterium species increase antibiotic resistance and promote survival in a co-culture competition model. AEM In press.

Zanders, SE and RL Unckless. 2019. Fertility costs of meiotic drivers. Current Biology 29: R512-520.

Koseva BS, Hackett JL, Zhou Y, Harris BR, Kelly JK, Greenfield MD, Gleason JM, Macdonald SJ. 2019. Quantitative Genetic Mapping and Genome Assembly in the Lesser Wax Moth Achroia grisella. Genes, Genomes, Genetics 9: 2349-2361.

Grau, M. F., R. Entwistle, C. E. Oakley, C. C. C. Wang, and B. R. Oakley. 2019. Overexpression of an LaeA-like Methyltransferase Upregulates Secondary Metabolite Production in Aspergillus nidulans. ACS Chem Biol 14:1643-1651.

Zeng Y, Ma J, Xu L, Wu D. Natural Product Gossypol and Its Derivatives in Precision Cancer Medicine. Curr Med Chem 2019; 26(10):1849-1873. PMID: 28545375

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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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