Dave Pagliarini, associate professor of biochemistry and lead investigator of metabolism for the Morgridge Institute for Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is being recognized for major early-career achievement by The Protein Society.
Pagliarini will receive one of the society’s eight distinct achievement awards during its 31st Annual Symposium in Montreal in July. The Protein Society is the premier international organization dedicated to supporting protein research.
"This award is a special one for me,” says Pagliarini. “While my group likes to blend multiple methodologies, we consider protein biochemistry to be the heart and soul of what we do. It’s meaningful to have our work recognized by the society for protein science.”
The Protein Science Young Investigator Award recognizes a scientist within the first eight years of an independent career who has made an important contribution to the study of proteins. Pagliarini joined the UW-Madison biochemistry faculty in 2009 and the Morgridge Institute in 2015.
To read more about Pagliarini's award, see the link below.
There are many processes that take place in cells that are essential for life. Two of these, transcription and translation, allow the genetic information stored in DNA to be deciphered into the proteins that form all living things, from bacteria to humans to plants.
Scientists have known for half a century that these two processes are coupled in bacteria, but only now have they finally had a look at the structure that makes this possible. In a paper published in Science today [April 13], biochemists from the University of Wisconsin–Madison and the Max Planck Institute (MPI) for Biophysical Chemistry in Germany have revealed the defined architecture of what is called the “expressome.”
The researchers say this work using the model bacteria E. coli could open numerous doors for research into how bacteria impact human health, including a better basic understanding of gene regulation and possible development of new antibiotics.
To read more about this work, see the press release at the link below.
The term “rhino” is derived from the Greek word for “nose.” Hence, human rhinoviruses are those responsible for the common cold and some can even pose a serious threat to those with asthma.
In a recent review article on the cover of the Journal of Virology, biochemistry professor Ann Palmenberg summarizes hers and others’ research on the viruses that cause the common cold and specifically can harm those with asthma.
While two rhinovirus species, called A and B, are the leading cause of the common cold, the C species poses a threat to young children, particularly those with asthma. In recent years, Palmenberg’s research has focused on rhinovirus C, and in 2016, along with collaborators, solved the atomic structure of the virus for the first time. Knowing the structure of a virus is commonly the first step to learning how to combat its effects.
“These are human-specific viruses, and for a virus to infect a cell it has to recognize the right cell type based on proteins cells display on their surfaces,” explains Palmenberg, who is also a member of the Institute for Molecular Virology. “Rhinoviruses A and B use a protein called ICAM-1 to attach to and enter a cell, but Rhinovirus C uses a different protein, called CDHR3. That is what makes all the difference.”
Integreated Program in Biochemistry (IPiB) faculty member James Keck recently won a Kellett Mid-Career Awards. Hailing from the Department of Biomolecular Chemistry, he was one of 11 faculty members at the Univeristy of Wisconsin Madison to earn the award.
The Kellett awards recognize outstanding faculty seven to 20 years past their first promotion to a tenured position. A divisional committee appointed by the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education chooses winners from professors nominated by departments, Ph.D. major programs and interdepartmental groups.Keck is professor of biomolecular chemistry and associate dean for basic sciences in the School of Medicine and Public Health. His studies focus on how cells replicate and repair their DNA at a molecular level, and how inhibitors that disrupt these processes could function as new antibiotics and chemotherapeutics.
Bacteria, like humans and animals, must eat.
Sometimes, they consume a pollutant in the environment that humans want to get rid of, a process called bioremediation. Investigating the enzymes used by bacteria to carry out that process is important for scientists to understand and possibly improve on these powerful reactions. However, until now, having a snapshot of one of these important enzymes in action has eluded science.
In a publication in the journal Nature released March 27, scientists from the Department of Biochemistry and Department of Chemistry at the University of Wisconsin–Madison have solved the structure of an enzyme caught in the act of attacking toluene — a chemical derived from wood and oil. The work is important because it provides a glimpse of the mechanics of a process that could be harnessed to help clean up oil spills and create valuable new chemicals.
“In this research, we are trying to understand how nature uses iron atoms, electrons, and oxygen gas from the air to selectively oxidize chemicals,” says biochemistry Professor and Chair Brian Fox. “This reaction is the first step in a process where the carbon atoms in toluene, called an aromatic ring, are prepared for consumption by bacteria.”
Read more about this research in the press release below.
Anjon Audhya, associate professor of biomolecular chemistry, and 10 other young members of the UW–Madison faculty have been honored with Romnes Faculty Fellowships.Audhya. who is also the director of the Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology program, studies the fundamental mechanisms by which membrane proteins, lipids and other macromolecules are transported throughout eukaryotic cells. His laboratory has developed a multidisciplinary approach to define pathomechanisms that underlie human disease, focusing on the impact of mutations in key trafficking components that lead to neurodegeneration and cancer.
Romnes awards recognize exceptional faculty members who have earned tenure within the last six years. The awards are supported by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF).
The award is named for the late H.I. Romnes, former chairman of the board of AT&T and former president of the WARF Board of Trustees.
Professor of Biomolecular Chemistry James Keck has accepted the position of Associate Dean for Basic Sciences within the UW School of Medicine and Public Health (SMPH), and stepped into his new role on March 1.
Keck was previously Director of the NIH Molecular Biosciences Training Grant and is an active trainer in several graduate programs including the Integrated Program in Biochemistry (IPiB), the merged graduate training program of the CALS Department of Biochemistry and the SMPH Department of Biomolecular Chemistry. IPiB is an exceptional program designed to prepare students for successful careers in research, teaching, and science communication.
In his new role, he will participate in overall leadership and oversight of SMPH’s master’s level and doctoral training programs, and also in the development and implementation of research or research training initiatives within the school. He will also serve as the primary point person for SMPH research cores and will participate in decisions for internal support of faculty research.
Read more about Keck at the link below.
The Biotechnology Training Program (BTP) at the University of Wisconsin–Madison took Danielle Lohman all the way to Manila, Philippines to work in science diplomacy. Lohman, a student in the Integrated Program in Biochemistry (IPiB), has received funding through fellowships from BTP and the National Science Foundation during her graduate career.
BTP requires its fellows to perform an internship and Lohman chose to venture out of the lab to Health Security Partners, a nonprofit start-up in Washington, D.C. While many fellows secure internships at national laboratories or biotechnology companies, Lohman saw the internship as a chance to try something new. Her work in the Philippines helped to define a select agent list, which would help to track potentially harmful substances like anthrax.
“While it wasn’t a traditional biotech industry internship, so many of the skills I learned through BTP helped me secure the internship and succeed there,” Lohman says. “The networking, resume building, and understanding of the field of biotechnology are all transferable.”
IPiB, which Lohman became part of in 2012, is the joint graduate program of the Department of Biochemistry and the Department of Biomolecular Chemistry. BTP is a multi-disciplinary training program funded by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, an institute of the NIH.
“One of the biggest strengths of my graduate experience is the sense of community,” Lohman explains. “Along with the benefits of BTP, IPiB has a Student Faculty Liaison Committee, where a group of students discusses student-focused topics in the grad program and gets to work with faculty on them. I’ve been lucky to be involved in bringing in elements of outreach and career development for myself and my peers.”
The community of microorganisms that resides in the gut, known as the microbiome, has been shown to work in tandem with the genes of a host organism to regulate insulin secretion, a key variable in the onset of the metabolic disease diabetes.
That is the primary finding of a study published Feb. 14 in the journal Cell Reports by a team led by University of Wisconsin–Madison researchers Alan Attie and Federico Rey. The new report describes experiments in mice showing how genetic variation in a host animal shapes the microbiome — a rich ecosystem of mostly beneficial microorgannisms that resides in the gut — and sets the table for the onset of metabolic disease.
“We’re trying to use genetics to find out how bugs affect diabetes and metabolism,” explains Attie, a UW–Madison professor of biochemistry and a corresponding author of the study.
To read more about this research, see the press release below.
The Department of Biochemistry and the Department of Biomolecular Chemistry are pleased to invite you to register for the 38th Steenbock Symposium on June 22-June 25, 2017. The registration deadline is May 14, with the early registration deadline falling on March 30.
The symposium’s theme, “Protein Trafficking in the Secretory Pathway,” will bring together researchers from the United States, as well as from Europe and Canada, to discuss and explore this important biochemical pathway. The symposium will take place on campus in the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery Building.
“This topic is researched from many different angles, mine being insulin and diabetes, but since many of the processes are important for multiple cellular functions we can all learn so much from each other at this symposium,” says Alan Attie, a professor of Biochemistry and one of the symposium’s organizers. “We seek to bring people together who may not meet each other elsewhere in order to generate new ideas and collaboration.”
To read more about the symposium see its website: https://biochem.wisc.edu/symposia/steenbock/38th. To register for the symposium and submit to the poster session use the following link: https://uwccs.eventsair.com/steenbock38/reg/Site/Register.
For more information, see the story below.
Human messenger RNA — the intermediate step between DNA and protein — is a bit like a choose-your-own-adventure book. Any book contains chapters arranged to tell a story. However, in a choose-your-own adventure, random chapters can be removed and the remaining sections stitched together in different combinations — and all of these new combinations tell a new story.
The process of taking out chapters, or sections of RNA, and putting what remains back together is called splicing, and it is performed by a molecular machine called the spliceosome. The lab of assistant professor Aaron Hoskins in the University of Wisconsin–Madison Department of Biochemistry is studying the inner workings of this complex machine to understand not only how it works but also how mutations of the spliceosome can lead to disease. Their recent findings published in Nucleic Acids Research could advance scientists’ understanding of how mutations in the spliceosome can lead to health problems like cancer.
To read more about this research, follow the link below.
Ronald Raines, the Henry Lardy Professor of Biochemistry, earned two national awards over the holiday. He was elected as a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI) and also received the Vincent du Vigneaud Award from the American Peptide Society (APS).
“These awards are a tribute to the dedication of my students and postdocs,” says Raines, who is also a professor of chemistry. “Without them I could do little. It’s great to bring these honors back to the university.”
To read more about these awards, see the link below.
The Wisconsin Partnership Program at the UW School of Medicine at Public Health has awarded $300,000 through its New Investigator Program.
The awards, each $100,000 over two years, support early-career investigators who are taking innovative approaches to address a diverse range of public health issues in Wisconsin.
Biomolecular chemistry professor Matthew Merrins won one of the awards for his project titled "Reprogramming β-cell Metabolism to Prevent and Rescue Type 2 Diabetes."
The prevalence of type 2 diabetes in Wisconsin is rapidly climbing, imposing a significant burden on the health care system. The clinical manifestation of diabetes is attributed to the failure of insulin secretion from pancreatic β (beta) cells.
This project proposes that activating a metabolic enzyme, pyruvate kinase, has the potential to prevent diabetes and rescue insulin secretion from the diabetic β-cell. The studies are needed to provide a firm scientific basis for a clinical intervention that preserves β-cell metabolic health in people.
To read more about this grant, see the link below.