News

Decoy receptor neutralizes coronavirus in cell cultures

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread, scientists and health care providers are seeking ways to keep the coronavirus from infecting tissues once they’re exposed. A new study suggests luring the virus with a decoy – an engineered, free-floating receptor protein – that binds the virus and blocks infection.

August 04, 2020


MCB students launch big dreams with the iVenture program

An experience consoling a World War II veteran in the last days of his life fostered a passion for advocating for mental health awareness in Benjamin Ray, a student in the School of Molecular and Cellular Biology and CEO of vrtumind. Pronounced “virtue-mind,” the startup applies machine learning to help students...

July 24, 2020


Researchers: Breast Cancer Deadlier in Heart Attack Survivors

Breast cancer patients are 60 percent more likely to die of cancer after surviving a heart attack, according to a new study published in Nature Medicine.

July 15, 2020


Researchers uncover a key mechanism for embryonic implantation during early pregnancy

Nearly two percent of pregnant women will face recurrent miscarriages, defined as the spontaneous loss of three or more consecutive pregnancies. Of that two percent, half of those miscarriages cannot be explained. Scientists assume genetic factors may play a role, but to date they have not been able to describe...

July 14, 2020


Volunteers at Illinois produce supplies for 200,000 COVID-19 tests

A collaborative effort at the University of Illinois to support COVID-19 testing is winding down, but not before it produced enough materials to support some 200,000 coronavirus tests across the state. Chris Brooke, a professor of microbiology who spearheaded the effort by faculty, graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, and laboratory workers, said that at...

July 07, 2020


Engineered immune cells recognize, attack human and mouse solid-tumor cancer cells

A method known as CAR-T therapy has been used successfully in patients with blood cancers such as lymphoma and leukemia. It modifies a patient’s own T-cells by adding a piece of an antibody that recognizes unique features on the surface of cancer cells. In a new study, researchers report that...

June 29, 2020


New approach drives bacteria to produce potential antibiotic, antiparasitic compounds

Researchers have developed a method to spur the production of new antibiotic or antiparasitic compounds hiding in the genomes of actinobacteria, which are the source of drugs such as actinomycin and streptomycin and are known to harbor other untapped chemical riches. The scientists report their findings in the journal eLife.

June 25, 2020


MIP Professor Benita Katzenellenbogen named Senior Advisor for the Cancer Center at Illinois

Benita S. Katzenellenbogen, Professor of Molecular and Integrative Physiology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has been appointed Senior Advisor to the Director of the Cancer Center at Illinois (CCIL), Rohit Bhargava.

June 24, 2020


Finding a new link between cellular respiration and virulence in S. aureus

Due in part to COVID-19, more and more people realize the importance of taking early steps to understand the virulence mechanisms of pathogens, especially in the face of their widespread resistance to drugs. Doing so gives researchers and clinicians a head start in preparing against future outbreaks, which means...

June 19, 2020


Liqian Ma awarded Mead Graduate Fellowship

The University of Illinois School of Molecular and Cellular Biology is pleased to announce the inaugural recipient of the Julie and David Mead Graduate Fellowship.

June 17, 2020


Simulated sea slug gets addicted to drug

Rhanor Gillette and his colleagues simulated a sea slug brain in a computer model, added a few extra circuits, and gave it access to food and an intoxicating drug. The work offers insight into the process of addiction and will be a useful tool for further studies, Gillette said.

June 16, 2020


Team deciphers how myotonic dystrophy generates lethal heart dysfunctions

Roughly 80% of people with myotonic dystrophy – a common form of muscular dystrophy – experience dangerous heart ailments, and heart rhythm defects are the second-leading cause of death in those with the condition. In a new study, researchers traced the molecular events that lead to heart abnormalities in myotonic dystrophy and...

June 08, 2020


Bacteria show their metal: An evolutionary path to survival

An investigation of two closely related proteins from a pathogenic bacterium has illustrated for the first time how evolution can shape the use of essential metals by enzymes.

June 04, 2020


MCB's Commitment to Diversity and Equity

Dear Students, The School of Molecular and Cellular Biology would like to follow up on the statement sent out by the University of Illinois on Saturday. As noted by UI President Timothy Killeen, “The horrifying image of George Floyd dying as a police officer knelt on his neck is one that will be forever burned...

June 03, 2020


MCB researchers aim to speed up drug discovery through RiPPs

As the globe currently deals with the novel coronavirus pandemic, public interest in biological research has begun to grow. However, curative research takes time: drug discovery requires years of effort and financial resources to yield results. Even with focused endeavors, it would still take approximately two years for a CoV-2 vaccine...

May 22, 2020


MCB faculty join Congressman for discussion about COVID-19 testing, vaccines, treatments

Faculty in the School of Molecular and Cellular Biology shared the latest news and insights on COVID-19 testing, vaccines, and antibody research with U.S. Congressman Bill Foster this weekend as part of the representative’s Science Saturdays discussion on Facebook Live.

May 18, 2020


Congratulations to the Class of 2020!

On Saturday, May 16, 2020, the School of Molecular and Cellular Biology celebrated its outstanding graduates with a virtual convocation. The ceremony included a slide show about students and their future plans, shout-outs from MCB faculty, and remarks from MCB Director Milan Bagchi and Tina Knox, assistant director for advising and recruitment. The event...

May 17, 2020


MCB undergraduates receive awards from the Beckman Institute

Three undergraduate students in the School of Molecular and Cellular Biology were among the recipients of the 2020 Beckman Institute student awards and fellowships, which provide research experience. The Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation, as well as other scholarship and memorial funds provided by generous donors, support these programs.

May 11, 2020


Researchers find mutation hotspots for severe form of genetic epilepsy that give insights into the underlying pathogenesis

Epilepsy is a common chronic brain disorder that affects 3% of the world’s population. In epilepsy, excessive electrical activity in neurons makes them prone to misfire and trigger seizures. Nearly half of epilepsy cases are caused by genetic mutations in a variety of proteins...

May 06, 2020


A novel approach to a new career

Alumna Carole Stivers worked as a biochemist in Silicon Valley—and then started anew as a science fiction writer.

May 05, 2020


Spinal cord gives bio-bots walking rhythm

Miniature biological robots are making greater strides than ever, thanks to the spinal cord directing their steps. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign researchers developed the tiny walking “spinobots,” powered by rat muscle and spinal cord tissue on a soft, 3D-printed hydrogel skeleton. While previous generations of biological robots, or bio-bots, could move forward by simple...

April 28, 2020


Professors shift gears as they move to online courses during COVID-19

Going from teaching in front of an auditorium that seats 600 students to lecturing on a webcam at home requires patience and skill – and, for one professor, a lot of imagination.

April 24, 2020


University of Illinois partners with Carle Health and the state to increase COVID-19 testing

Back in early March, when the COVID-19 pandemic began shuttering businesses and schools across the United States, Chris Brooke wondered how he’d teach his classes online. As the virus spread with astonishing speed, however, and it became frighteningly clear that COVID-19 threatened something far greater than...

April 20, 2020


“Intracellular accumulation of staphylopine can sensitize Staphylococcus aureus to host-imposed zinc starvation by chelation-independent toxicity”

Staphylococcus aureus is an antibiotic-resistant pathogen labelled as a “serious threat to human health” by the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control. This bacteria is also the subject of a recent paper published by the laboratory of Dr. Thomas Kehl-Fie, Assistant Professor...

April 01, 2020


Study reveals neuronal response following chronic activation of an epilepsy- and autism-linked receptor

Group 1 metabotropic glutamate receptors (Gp1 mGluRs) are essential for neuroplasticity, neurodevelopment and cognition, but chronically active Gp1 mGluRs has been linked to many pathologic conditions including epilepsy and autism spectrum disorders. To characterize the effects of chronically active Gp1 mGluRs on neuroplasticity, recent graduate students Dai-Chi Liu,...

March 30, 2020


Prof. Stephen Sligar receives the Christian B. Anfinsen Award

The Christian B. Anfinsen Award, sponsored by The Protein Society, recognizes technological achievement or significant methodological advances in the field of protein science. The recipient of this award in 2020 is Professor Stephen Sligar, professor of Biochemistry and former director of the School of Molecular and Cellular Biology.

March 13, 2020


MCB virologist addresses the novel coronavirus

The best methods to prevent coronavirus infection are the same as for influenza or other respiratory viruses: frequent hand washing and avoiding contact with sick people, says MCB virologist Christopher Brooke.

March 06, 2020


CDB Professor receives campus teaching award

David Rivier, Associate Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology, has been selected as the recipient of the Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award.

February 27, 2020


Love, science, and a drink remedy for space travel

A unique and lifelong pursuit of knowledge for Carol Greenleaf and her late husband, John, began at Illinois.

February 24, 2020


Brenda Wilson named Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology

Brenda Wilson, Professor of Microbiology and Associate Director for MCB Undergraduate Education has been elected to the 2020 Class of Academy Fellows.

February 21, 2020


Erik Nelson named Gunsalus Scholar

Erik Nelson, Assistant Professor of Molecular and Integrative Physiology, has been named the 2020-2021 Gunsalus Scholar by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences for his work on cholesterol metabolism and cancer.

February 20, 2020


The Freeman laboratory has discovered a pathway for reorganizing select chromosome sites

The Freeman laboratory (Cell and Developmental Biology) delineates a molecular chaperone-dependent mechanism for selectively mobilizing gene loci through the nuclear actin matrix. Their findings were published in Developmental Cell.

February 10, 2020


Researchers find a fasting-induced epigenetic pathway that promotes autophagy and lipid degradation

Autophagy or “self-eating” is a fundamental biological process by which cells digest and recycle cellular components for survival of the cells under nutrient-deprived conditions. Autophagy must be tightly controlled since deficient autophagy is associated with many diseases and aging, while excessive autophagy is also harmful because it promotes cell...

February 10, 2020


Helping epithelial cells stand tall

Many epithelial tissues are classified as being squamous, cuboidal, or columnar based upon the height of their lateral membranes. CDB researchers Yuou Wang and Bill Brieher identified a protein known as CD2AP as a key factor necessary for building up the lateral membrane.

February 06, 2020


Nuclear speckle contact amplifies gene expression

Recent work from the Belmont Laboratory in Cell and Developmental Biology was featured in the Journal of Cell Biology.

February 05, 2020


Protruding actin microspikes mend failing adhesive contacts

Epithelial cells use an adhesion molecule known as E-cadherin to help build extensive cell-cell adhesive contacts leading to cohesive sheets of cells that separate two different environments. But what happens if the adhesive bonds holding the cells together fail? CDB researchers John Li, Vivian Tang, and Bill Brieher discovered an actin dependent...

February 04, 2020


MCB faculty collaborate on NSF grants at Beckman

ChBE professor Hyunjoon (Joon) Kong recently received two grants from the NSF to fund interdisciplinary research at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, including a look at how neurons and muscle cells communicate with each other and also to develop a drug delivery system for treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. He will...

January 30, 2020


Multiscale imaging shines light on the unique importance of bone marrow during HIV infection

HIV-1 affects and kills millions of people globally, but not enough information exists regarding the types of cells that HIV-1 targets in different tissues or the virus’s mechanism of spreading throughout the body. Viruses often ride the body’s circulatory systems to scatter throughout an organism and appear...

January 16, 2020


New cryo-EM structures of a lipid-sensitive ligand-gated ion channel

In biology, it is generally believed that a protein’s sequence determines its structure, which in turn determines its function. However, in the case of membrane proteins, the reality is more complicated than this simple statement. “In recent years, the importance of a protein’s local environment has been increasingly recognized, but the molecular-level...

January 13, 2020


School of MCB celebrates at winter holiday party

On December 12, 2019, the School of Molecular and Cellular Biology held its annual Winter Holiday Party. Faculty, staff, and graduate students came together in the Alice Campbell Alumni Center to celebrate and recognize our successes throughout the year. Coordinated by Shawna Smith and Holly Mansfield, all were treated to a night of...

January 10, 2020


William Metcalf receives Faculty Excellence Award for Research

William Metcalf (Microbiology) was presented with this award by Dr. Milan Bagchi, Director of the School of Molecular and Cellular Biology, at the 2019 MCB Holiday Party.

January 09, 2020


Faculty Excellence Award in Service given to John Cronan

John Cronan (Microbiology) was presented with this award by Dr. Milan Bagchi, Director of the School of Molecular and Cellular Biology, at the 2019 MCB Holiday Party.

January 09, 2020


Lori Raetzman given Faculty Excellence Awards in Service and Teaching

Lori Raetzman (Molecular and Integrative Physiology) was presented with these awards by Dr. Milan Bagchi, Director of the School of Molecular and Cellular Biology, at the 2019 MCB Holiday Party.

January 09, 2020


New compounds block master regulator of cancer growth, metastasis

Scientists have developed new drug compounds that thwart the pro-cancer activity of FOXM1, a transcription factor that regulates the activity of dozens of genes. The new compounds suppress tumor growth in human cells and in mouse models of several types of human breast cancer.

January 07, 2020


Using computational microscopy to study lipid-protein interaction

The Tajkhorshid lab used computational microscopy to investigate how lipids can influence the structure and function of protein channels in cells. Their findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

December 17, 2019


Biochemistry Professor David Kranz named an NAI Fellow

David Kranz, the Phillip A. Sharp Professor of Biochemistry at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign was named a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors. Kranz will be formally inducted at the Ninth Annual Meeting of the National Academy of Inventors in Phoenix, Arizona, on April 10, 2020.

December 13, 2019


MIP Graduate Student Daphne Eagleman Awarded a Predoctoral Fellowship from American Heart Association

Graduate Student Daphne Eagleman in Dr. Nien-Pei Tsai’s lab has been awarded a 2-year Predoctoral Fellowship from the American Heart Association. This fellowship will support her thesis project to decipher the role of a ubiquitin E3 ligase Nedd4-2 in cellular stress-induced neuronal degeneration following ischemic stroke.

December 10, 2019


Catherine Christian Awarded a 2020-2021 Center for Advanced Study Fellowship

Catherine Christian (Molecular and Integrative Physiology) has been awarded a 2020-2021 Center for Advanced Study Fellowship. The Center for Advanced Study sheds light on interdisciplinary thought that starts conversation, inspires action, and transforms the world. Read more about the Center for Advanced Study here.

November 22, 2019


Simulation reveals how bacterial organelle converts sunlight to chemical energy

Scientists have simulated every atom of a light-harvesting structure in a photosynthetic bacterium that generates energy for the organism. The simulated organelle behaves just like its counterpart in nature, the researchers reported in a recent publication in Cell. The work is a major step toward understanding how some biological structures...

November 15, 2019


Multiple Positions in Microbial Systems

The University is hiring six or more tenure-track faculty studying microbial systems or microbiomes, coordinated hires that will expand interdisciplinary microbial research and education across campus.

October 16, 2019


Neurons’ response to seizure-induced stress reduces seizure severity

In response to seizures, the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), a network of flattened tubes in the cell that packages and transports proteins, triggers a stress response that reduces brain activity and seizure severity. The new findings, reported by Nien-Pei Tsai (Assistant Professor in Molecular and Integrative Physiology) on 26th September in PLOS Genetics, may...

September 30, 2019


Welcome to our first cohort of BEST Scholarship recipients!

The Biology, Experience, Scholarship, and Training (BEST) Program was established to attract exceptionally talented students to our undergraduate biology program. As a BEST recipient, incoming freshmen receive a scholarship and mentorship from the Director of the School of Molecular and Cellular Biology and the Director of the School of Integrative Biology.

September 09, 2019


Prof. Emad Tajkhorshid has been awarded the 2020 Thomas E. Thompson award

Emad Tajkhorshid (Biochemistry) has been awarded the 2020 Thomas E. Thompson award for his seminal contributions to advancing our understanding of membrane structure and function. The Thomas E. Thompson award recognizes an outstanding contribution in the field of membrane structure and function. The award will be presented...

September 03, 2019


Study: Heterozygous loss of KCNQ2 potassium channel gene induces autism-associated behaviors

Molecular and integrative physiology professor Hee Jung Chung (left), her postdoctoral fellow Eung Chang Kim (middle), Psychology professor Justin Rhodes (right), and their colleagues discovered that heterozygous loss of KCNQ2 potassium channel gene induces autism-associated behaviors in mice including social avoidance, repetitive behaviors, and obsessive and compulsive-like behaviors.

August 21, 2019