News Archive


Yejing Ge receives the Procter & Gamble Award

Yejing Ge, a graduate student in Jie Chen Lab, is the recipient of the 2012 Procter & Gamble Graduate Student Research Award. This $2,000 award is established by the Procter & Gamble Company to recognize research accomplishments by a doctoral student in the School of Molecular and Cellular Biology or the School of Integrative Biology. Posted May 13, 2012
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Tyler Moran selected as the 2011 recipient of the Molecular Endocrinology Student Author Award

Tyler Moran, Ph.D., who completed his thesis in the lab of Assistant Professor of Molecular and Integrative Physiology Lori Raetzman, was selected as the 2011 recipient of the Molecular Endocrinology Student Author Award. This award was for the publication "Numb deletion in POMC expressing cells impairs pituitary intermediate lobe cell adhesion, progenitor cell localization, and neuro-intermediate lobe boundary formation" in Molecular Endocrinology.

The Endocrine Society presents a yearly award to outstanding first authored papers in Molecular Endocrinology and Endocrinology, the flagship journals of the Endocrine society. The award will be presented at ENDO 2012, the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society in Houston, Texas. Tyler is currently a fourth year medical student at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign College of Medicine.

Read the award-winning paper online.     
Posted May 10, 2012
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Building up actin at adherens junctions

Assistant Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology William Brieher and Vivan Tang have published "α-Actinin-4/FSGS1 is required for Arp2/3-dependent actin assembly at the adherens junction" in the Journal of Cell Biology.

The paper was highlighted by the journal in its "In Focus" section.

JCB Highlight
JCB Full Text     
Posted January 18, 2012
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Attack or retreat? Circuit links hunger and pursuit in sea slug brain

In a new study, Professor of Molecular and Integrative Physiology Rhanor Gillette reports on a circuit in the brain of the sea slug Pleurobranchaea. The study appears in the journal Current Biology.

University News Bureau
Current Biology     
Posted January 31, 2012
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Phylogeny and beyond: Scientific, historical, and conceptual significance of the first tree of life

A fundamental breakthrough in biological science occurred in 1977, and most biologists did not notice: a paper by Professor of Microbiology Carl Woese that compared sequence snippets derived from small subunit rRNAs of different organisms.

A robust retrospective of the 1977 paper in PNAS explores the accomplishments of Woese, including the research that led up to it, and its significant consequences in the biological sciences.

PNAS Classic Article
PNAS Classic Article - Classic Perspective     
Posted January 31, 2012
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Cancer Research Forum and Poster Prize Competition

All faculty, fellows, students and investigators are invited to present posters on cancer-related research in basic, clinical, and translational areas of investigation.

The forum will be held March 6, 2012, at UIC Student Center West, 2nd Floor, 828 S. Wolcott, Chicago.

Keynote speaker: Dr. Benita S. Katzenellenbogen, Swanlund Professor of Molecular and Integrative Physiology and Cell and Developmental Biology.

Six prizes of $500 each will be awarded.

Abstract submission/registration deadline: February 20, 2012.

The forum is open to all. There will be bus service to Chicago if enough people are interested.

Cancer Research Forum Website     
Posted February 01, 2012
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Team Discovers Microbes Speciating

Not that long ago in a hot spring in Kamchatka, Russia, two groups of genetically indistinguishable microbes parted ways. They began evolving into different species – despite the fact that they still encountered one another in their acidic, boiling habitat and even exchanged some genes from time to time, researchers report. This is the first example of what the researchers call sympatric speciation in a microorganism.

The idea of sympatric speciation (one lineage diverging into two or more species with no physical or mechanical barriers keeping them apart) is controversial and tricky to prove, especially in microbes, said Assistant Professor of Microbiology Rachel Whitaker, who led the study, "Patterns of Gene Flow Define Species of Thermophilic Archaea," published today in PLOS Biology.

University News Bureau
PLOS Biology     
Posted February 22, 2012
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Msx Homeobox Genes Critically Regulate Embryo Implantation

During implantation, various tissue compartments within the uterus, including epithelium and stroma, undergo sequential proliferation and differentiation as the embryo attaches to the uterus and invades into the maternal tissue. There is only limited understanding of the molecular signaling pathways that interconnect these tissue compartments to achieve a functional state of the uterus conducive to implantation. A new study published in PLOS Genetics by co-corresponding authors Professor of Molecular and Integrative Physiology Milan Bagchi and Professor of Comparative Biosciences Indrani Bagchi reveals that a unique signaling network regulated by the homeobox transcription factors MSX1 and MSX2 in the mouse uterus critically controls female fertility.

PLOS Genetics     
Posted February 28, 2012
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Molecular Determinants of Scouting Behavior in Honey Bees

Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology Gene Robinson and colleagues have published "Molecular Determinants of Scouting Behavior in Honey Bees" in Science.

From the abstract: "Little is known about the molecular basis of differences in behavior among individuals. Here we report consistent novelty-seeking behavior, across different contexts, among honey bees in their tendency to scout for food sources and nest sites, and we reveal some of the molecular underpinnings of this behavior relative to foragers that do not scout."

Cornell Chronicle     
Posted March 14, 2012
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Team discovers how bacteria resist a 'Trojan horse' antibiotic

A new study led by Associate Professor of Biochemistry Satish Nair describes how bacteria use a previously unknown means to defeat an antibiotic. The researchers found that the bacteria have modified a common “housekeeping” enzyme in a way that enables the enzyme to recognize and disarm the antibiotic.

"Structure and function of a serine carboxypeptidase adapted for degradation of the protein synthesis antibiotic microcin C7" appears in PNAS.

University News Bureau     
Posted March 20, 2012
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Rachel Smith-Bolton Receives Carver Charitable Trust Award

Assistant Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology Rachel Smith-Bolton has been awarded the highly competitive 3-year Carver Young Investigator Award. The award pays $300,000 over three years. Posted April 03, 2012
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Phosphodiesterases coordinate cAMP propagation induced by two stimulatory G protein-coupled receptors in hearts

Inflammation is a well-known independent risk factor for cardiovascular diseases, including atherosclerosis and heart failure. Anti-inflammation drugs such as aspirin and ibuprofen show significant benefits for patients in preventing cardiovascular diseases. However, how inflammation contributes to development of these diseases is still largely unknown.

Prostaglandin E is a major proinflammatory factor whose level is elevated in the blood and myocardium. In a new study in PNAS, Assistant Professor of Molecular and Integrative Physiology Kevin Xiang and colleagues determine whether inflammatory factor prostaglandin E2-induced signaling directly modulates adrenergic stimulation of cardiac contractility by adrenolines. Their study reveals that prostaglandin E2 can directly impair the adrenergic regulation of myocardium contraction via an elegant intracellular interaction. These studies provide a novel understanding of how inflammatory factor prostaglandin E directly affects heart function, and contributes to the development of heart diseases. Since most non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID, including ibuprofen) reduce the levels of prostaglandin E2 by inhibiting an enzyme Cox2, this study may also explain how these anti-inflammatory drugs could help prevent cardiac diseases.

According to Professor Xiang, "This study really pinpoints the action of inflammation on the function of animal hearts, which provides a direction on how we access the impact of inflammation on heart function, and illuminates potentially new strategies in preventing and treating heart failure in patients."

Posted April 09, 2012
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Mutations that stabilize the open state of the Erwinia chrisanthemi ligand-gated ion channel fail to change the conformation of the pore domain in crystals

Corresponding author Professor of Molecular and Integrative Physiology Claudio Grosman, Associate Professor of Biochemistry Satish Nair, and colleagues have published new work in PNAS.

Posted April 02, 2012
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Phil Newmark appointed as a Romano Scholar

Associate Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology and Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator Phillip Newmark, has been appointed as a Richard and Margaret Romano Professorial Scholar. The appointment is for a three-year term and will provide a discretionary fund of $25,000 per annum to support scholarly activities. The award is given to key leaders in Liberal Arts and Sciences for their remarkable accomplishments in research and academic activities, recognizing outstanding research and efforts in support of building excellence on campus. Posted March 28, 2012
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Accelerating Membrane Insertion of Peripheral Proteins with a Novel Membrane Mimetic Model

Associate Professor of Biochemistry Emad Tajkhorshid is corresponding author on "Accelerating Membrane Insertion of Peripheral Proteins with a Novel Membrane Mimetic Model," selected as the feature cover article in the May 2 issue of Biophysical Journal. Colin Wraight describes the new membrane model as "quite a significant advance in computation for membrane systems."

Read the article in Biophysical Journal     
Posted May 13, 2012
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James H. Morrissey Appointed Roy and Eva Hong Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology

Professor of Biochemistry James H. Morrissey has been appointed as the Roy and Eva Hong Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology, the first endowed position held at the school level. Morrissey is internationally recognized for his translational research program that centers on efforts to understand the regulation and mechanism of blood clotting. He was recently recognized by the International Society on Thrombosis & Hemostasis through receipt of the Biennial Investigator Recognition Award, and received the Alumni Discretionary Award from the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences in 2007.

Roy Hong was raised in Danville, Illinois, and graduated from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Illinois in 1937. He earned his M.D. degree from the University of Illinois, and met Eva during this time while she was studying nursing. They formed a partnership and began a practice together in rural Wisconsin, where their dedication in providing personal, high quality medical care was renowned. Upon retirement, Roy and Eva Hong established this professorship in their name to support a senior faculty member and their translational research endeavors. Posted June 19, 2012
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Prolyl isomerase Pin1 downregulates tumor suppressor RUNX3 in breast cancer

Assistant Professor of Biochemistry and Medical Biochemistry at the College of Medicine Lin-Feng Chen is corresponding author on a new study on RUNX3, a tumor suppressor in breast cancer. The new study, in Oncogene, identifies prolyl isomerase Pin1 as a key regulator of RUNX3 inactivation.

Read the paper online at Oncogene     
Posted May 15, 2012
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First ASCB Graduate Student/Postdoc-Initiated Minisymposium: Cell Biology of Regeneration

Rachel Roberts-Galbraith, postdoc in Cell and Developmental Biology, is co-chair and co-submitter of "Cell Biology of Regeneration," the winning topic in the competition to organize the 2012 American Society for Cell Biology Graduate Student/Postdoc-Initiated Minisymposium. The minisymposium will be held at the 2012 ASCB Annual Meeting.

Roberts-Galbraith is a postdoc in the lab of Associate Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology and Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator Phillip Newmark. Posted June 17, 2012
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A protease for 'middle-down' proteomics

Cong Wu, a graduate student in the Department of Biochemistry, is the first author on "A protease for 'middle-down' proteomics" in Nature Methods. Wu works in the lab of co-author Affiliate Professor of Molecular and Integrative Physiology Jonathan Sweedler. Wu's research advisor, corresponding author Neil Kelleher, was Affiliate Professor of Biochemistry before leaving the University last year.

According to Cong Wu, "This work is about a novel rare-cutting protease-based approach to perform proteomics using mass spectrometry. The protease we report produces larger peptides than traditional proteases and provides complementary biological information. It serves as an attractive option for researchers to conduct mass spectrometry-based proteomic studies."

Read the full text online in Nature Methods     
Posted June 25, 2012
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Labib Rouhana selected to the Summer Leadership Institute

Labib Rouhana, a postdoctoral researcher in the laboratory of Dr. Phil Newmark, has been awarded the prestigious Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship. Labib was 1 of 22 postdoctoral fellows selected by the National Research Council Fellowships Office during the 2012 competition. For the past 50 years the Ford Foundation Fellowship program has increased the diversity of the nation's college and university faculty by supporting promising young candidates.

In addition, Labib recently was selected to participate in the Summer Leadership Institute (SLI). The SLI provides premier training to scientists from underrepresented backgrounds who wish to increase their ability to succeed as institutional and community leaders. This program hosted ten postdoctoral fellows, ten early career scientists, and ten mid-career professionals selected from a pool of approximately 150 participants. The SLI was developed by the Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) in collaboration with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Click here for more information on the Ford Foundation Fellowship
or the Summer Leadership Institute     
Posted July 25, 2012
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Circadian Rhythm of Redox State Regulates Excitability in Suprachiasmatic Nucleus Neurons

Although cellular metabolic (redox) state has long been associated with a housekeeping role, recent research from a team lead by Martha Gillette, and including the Lee Cox and Jonathan Sweedler groups, provides new insights on cellular redox states, linking them to the intrinsic daily (circadian) clock in the brain. In the August 17th issue of Science, T. A. Wang et al. show that redox states in this brain region reflect daily cycles of metabolism. This 24-hour metabolic rhythm regulates the electrical activity of the neurons that comprise the mammalian central circadian clock. Thus, cross talk between energetic and neuronal states enables cellular state to influence brain physiology.

Read the full article in Science.
Read a perspective: "Circadian Time Redoxed."
Read a summary by the University News Bureau.     
Posted August 03, 2012
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Phillip Newmark named University Scholar

Begun in 1985, the scholars program recognizes faculty excellence on the three U. of I campuses and provides $10,000 to each scholar for each of three years to use to enhance his or her academic career. The money may be used for travel, equipment, research assistants, books or other purposes.

Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology and Howard Hughes Medical Investigator Phillip Newmark recognized that his discipline’s next frontier would be in the biology of tissue and organ regeneration. He now is recognized as one of the foremost proponents of reviving the use of planaria as a new model organism ideally suited for molecular and genetic analysis of regeneration. Today, a growing number of scientists use the planarian system in their research. He has applied his planarian system to several key problems in regeneration biology, including stem-cell differentiation, and germ-cell specification and differentiation. An increasing number of scientists now are using the planarian system in their work, attesting to the impact of Newmark’s work.

Read the release from the University News Bureau.     
Posted September 11, 2012
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A Gain-of-Function Polymorphism Controlling Complex Traits and Fitness in Nature

Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology Mary Schuler and colleagues have published a new study in Science.

According to Schuler, the finding's importance "lies in the fact that it spans the spectrum from ecology to molecular biology to biochemistry to computational modeling. I thinks it's the first time that anyone has mapped how a plant species has acquired a new biosynthetic ability as it has adapted to a new location. The fact that it maps to just one residue in a P450 catalytic site and one more on the protein tail is important in detailing the evolutionary mechanism operating in this example of 'plant-insect warfare'. Researchers know lots about P450 variants in human populations and how they impact drug metabolism - but the impact of P450 variations in plants has been unexplored territory (until now)."

Read the full text in Science     
Posted August 30, 2012
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Michelle Wegscheid Receives ASM Undergraduate Research Fellowship

The American Society for Microbiology (ASM) has selected Michelle Wegscheid, a senior in the Specialized Curriculum in Biochemistry, as a 2012 award recipient of the ASM Undergraduate Research Fellowship.

This fellowship is aimed at highly competitive students who wish to pursue graduate careers (Ph.D. or M.D./Ph.D.) in microbiology. Fellows have the opportunity to conduct full time summer research at their institution with an ASM mentor and present their research results at the 113th ASM General Meeting in Denver, CO if their abstract is accepted.

Each fellow receives up to a $4,000 stipend, a two-year ASM student membership, and funding for travel expenses to the ASM Presentation Institute and 113th ASM General Meeting.

This year, one hundred twenty-two applications were received and fifty-six were awarded.

Dr. Brenda Anne Wilson from University of Illinois is Michelle Wegscheid’s mentor. The title of the research project is: Development and Characterization of Modular Delivery Vehicles Based on Diphtheria Toxin and BoNT/A.

Read more at the American Society for Microbiology.     
Posted September 21, 2012
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Elena Zelin receives an American Heart Postdoctoral Fellowship

Dr. Elena Zelin, a postdoctorate fellow in Brian Freeman's laboratory, is a recipient of an American Heart Association Postdoctoral Fellowship. This 2 year award is established by the American Heart Association to recognize research accomplishments by outstanding post-doctorates and provide support to continue their studies on cardiovascular and stroke research. Posted December 13, 2012
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