• 2024-04-02 - Congratulations to Dr. Mesa, a 2024 College of Liberal Arts & Sciences Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient! In April 1986, a nuclear reactor exploded at the Chernobyl Power Plant in the Soviet Union. The worst nuclear disaster in history shaped the trajectory of nuclear power safety worldwide, while also shaping the career trajectory of then-18-year-old Ruben Mesa, a college freshman studying nuclear engineering 5,000 miles away from the blast site at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Mesa, a 1991 graduate in...
  • 2024-04-02 - Congratulations to Dr. Monteggia, a 2024 College of Liberal Arts & Sciences Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient! Lisa Monteggia’s journey to a career in psychiatric neuroscience began nearly forty years ago in a microbiology lab at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. As an undergraduate, Monteggia knew she had a talent for math and science but she never dreamed that her aptitude would foster three university degrees and a postdoctoral fellowship at Yale, ultimately landing in her current positions as the Lee E....
  • 2024-04-02 - The School of Molecular & Cellular Biology is pleased to announce the award winners from the 2024 Graduate Research Retreat, held at the I Hotel and Illinois Conference Center on Friday, March 29. Awards were presented for both the poster sessions and oral presentations.  Poster Session:  Owen Ouyang, in Dr. Nicholas Wu’s lab, with “oPool+ Display: A Rapid and Cost-effective In-vitro Antibody Screening Platform.” Joel Rivera-Cardona, in Dr. Christopher Brooke’s lab, with “...
  • 2024-04-01 - By day, Stephen Johnson is a Sponsored Business Analyst for the School of Molecular & Cellular Biology. By night, he’s a podcast host and avid marathon runner. Johnson filled us in on his daily routine, the similarities between financial work and sound editing, and his efforts to raise money for a peer support nonprofit. Can you tell us a little bit about what you do within the School of MCB? What does an average work day look like for you? No two days are the same; there is always something new. My main tasks center around grants—helping [primary investigators] PIs...
  • 2024-04-01 - We are excited to welcome Joseph Fernandez, PhD, to the School of MCB's Instructional Program team. Dr. Fernandez joined the school in March as the new Coordinator for the Undergraduate Major in Neuroscience. We spoke with him recently to learn more about his path to neuroscience, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and the School of MCB. What drew you to being an advisor for the School of MCB? Last year I was a...
  • 2024-03-21 - The School of Molecular & Cellular Biology and Department of Biochemistry are pleased to welcome Samy Meroueh as a new professor of biochemistry this spring. He joins us from the Indiana University School of Medicine. We spoke with him about his research and teaching interests and how he spends his time outside the lab. Tell us about your lab and your research focus, including how you came to choose or specialize in this area. We develop small molecules to inhibit or degrade proteins...
  • 2024-03-19 - Some animals possess the remarkable ability to regenerate lost structures, exemplified by a lizard regrowing its tail. However, this regenerative process must be tightly regulated by the body to ensure proper tissue organization and to prevent abnormal growths, such as cancer. Yet, the precise mechanisms underlying this regulation are not well known. In a recent study published in PLOS Genetics, researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign have identified an RNA-regulator called Brat as a key player in restraining tissue regeneration through its modulation of downstream...
  • 2024-03-11 - A surge of a neural-specific protein in the brain is the earliest-yet biomarker for Alzheimer’s disease, report University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign researchers studying a mouse model of the disease. Furthermore, the increased protein activity leads to the seizures associated with the earliest stages of neurodegeneration, and inhibiting the protein in the mice slowed the onset and progression of seizure activity.  The neural-specific protein, PSD-95, could pose a new target for Alzheimer’s research, early diagnosis and treatment, said study leader ...
  • 2024-03-04 - Fragile X syndrome is one of the most commonly inherited forms of autism and intellectual disability, and no treatment currently exists. But a team of University of Illinois researchers led by Vipendra Kumar, a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Molecular & Integrative Physiology, has discovered a novel receptor function that may be used in a therapeutic approach to treatment.   Their findings, published in...
  • 2024-02-29 - Supported by a $2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health, the Auerbach Lab will examine how different genes associated with autism spectrum disorders may similarly impact our brain’s neurons, resulting in heightened sensitivity to sounds.  Autism spectrum disorders are genetically complex, and hundreds of genes are implicated in their development. As a result, some may conclude that autism is a collection of disconnected disorders with comparable symptoms. However, much like how roads converge as they approach a destination, at some level of brain function there may be...
  • 2024-02-26 - The gut microbiome interacts with the loss of female sex hormones to exacerbate metabolic disease, including weight gain, fat in the liver and the expression of genes linked with inflammation, researchers found in a new rodent study. The findings, published in the journal Gut Microbes, may shed light on why women are at significantly greater risk of metabolic diseases such as obesity and Type 2 diabetes after menopause, when ovarian production of female sex hormones diminishes. “Collectively, the findings...
  • 2024-02-22 - University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign researchers Emad Tajkhorshid and Hyun Park In collaboration with scientists from Argonne National Laboratory, the University of Illinois at Chicago, and the University of Chicago, have used AI to identify new materials for carbon capture. Carbon capture is a critical technology in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and other industrial facilities. But a suitable material for effective carbon capture at low cost has yet to be found. One candidate is metal-organic frameworks, or MOFs. This porous material can selectively absorb...
  • 2024-02-19 - A new study by University of Illinois scientist Dr. Kannanganattu V. Prasanth and his team of researchers at Illinois and across multiple institutions has shed light on a novel family of noncoding RNAs (ncRNAs), and their significant impact on ribosomal RNA (rRNA) expression. "This is a completely novel study ... and a new family of noncoding RNA that we have identified," said Prasanth, a professor of cell and developmental biology. These RNA molecules, termed SNUL RNAs (Single NUcleolus Localized RNAs),...
  • 2024-02-15 - Chemists have determined for the first time the crystal structure and unlocked the mechanism of reaction activity of a key component of the monensin enzyme.  “The main finding was the first crystal structure for this family of enzymes,” said Chu-Young Kim, a professor of biochemistry at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, who led the experimental side of the study. He and colleagues solved the crystal structure for MonCI, a key enzyme in soil bacteria that naturally synthesizes monensin. Kim...
  • 2024-02-12 - What do a synthetic chemist, a medical imaging expert, and a neurologist have in common? They’re coming together in the Biomedical Imaging Center at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology to develop better diagnostic tools and imaging agents to detect early-stage Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases. A team led by Liviu M. Mirica along with Wawryzneic “Wawosz” Dobrucki...