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News and Announcements

Our Molecular Biophysics program members are doing great things. Check out news and updates from 2019, 2018, and 2017.

2019

June

Our very own Whitney Costello (lab of Dr. Kendra Frederick) attended the 69th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting which took place June 30-July 5, 2019.The meeting, dedicated to physics, engaged 39 Nobel Laureates and 580 young scientists from all over the world in vibrant scientific discussion intended to bridge generations and cultures. Following the meeting, Whitney visited the Max Planck Institute of Biophysics and gave a talk titled “Structural studies of the yeast prion protein via Dynamic Nuclear Polarization NMR.”

Congratulations to Dailu Chen in Dr. Lukasz Joachimiak’s lab! Dailu has just published a first-author paper in Nature Communication titled “Tau local structure shields an amyloid-forming motif and controls aggregation propensity.”

Jordan Baumhardt (lab of Dr. Yuh Min Chook) is undertaking a summer fellowship with Flagship Pioneering. Jordan has joined the Flagship Fellowship program to foster experiences in developing disruptive life science companies, and to build skills and networks essential to his future career goals.

Official notice of award received: We are grateful to receive five more years of training grant support from the NIH and the innovative training opportunities it brings.

Yusuf Tamer, mentored by Dr. Erdal Toprak, successfully defended his dissertation titled “Exploiting Evolutionary Trade-offs to Fight Antibiotic Resistance Evolution.” Yusuf investigated biophysical and biochemical constraints driving evolution of trimethoprim resistance in pathogenic bacteria. His work led to development of novel drug molecules that can specifically inhibit antibiotic resistant bacteria. Yusuf’s work was published in Molecular Biology and Evolution (2019), Molecular Cell (2017), and PLOS Biology (2016). Following his graduation, Yusuf will move to Dr. Milo Lin’s lab for his postdoctoral studies.

May

The 2019 Molecular Biophysics Graduate Program Research Symposium was held on May 3, 2019. The talks and posters raised the bar even more this year! Congratulations to Anant Gharpure (Molecular Biophysics student, Dr. Ryan Hibbs’ lab) and Dr. Emiko Uchikawa (research scientist, lab of Dr. Xiaochen Bai) for winning best talk and to Dagimhiwat Legesse (Molecular Biophysics student, Dr. Ryan Hibbs’ lab) and Dr. Nagesh Peddada (postdoctoral researcher, Dr. Jan Erzberger’s lab) for receiving the best poster award.

We are looking forward to the contributions our seven new Molecular Biophysics Graduate Program students will make to our community here at UT Southwestern, and the scientific community at large. Our heartiest welcome to Charis Springhower (lab of Dr. Yuh Min Chook); Umang Goswami (lab of Dr. Ryan Hibbs); Sofia Bali (lab of Dr. Lukasz Joachimiak): Yang Liu (lab of Dr. Xiaochun Li); Kamil Sekulski (lab of Dr. Jan Erzberger); Jesus Vega-Lugo (lab of Dr. Khuloud Jaqaman); and Xuemeng Zheng (lab of Dr. Michael Rosen.)

February

Shreoshi Majumdar, mentored by Dr. Luke Rice, successfully defended her dissertation titled “An Isolated CLASP TOG Domain Suppresses Microtubule Catastrophe and Promotes Rescue.” To read more about Shreoshi’s work during her graduate studies, please see her 2018 paper in Molecular Biology of the Cell. Shreoshi has moved on to a job in management consulting.

January

Eric Prinslow, mentored by Dr. Jose Rizo-Rey, successfully defended his dissertation titled “Dissecting Roles for the Macromolecular Machinery Involved in Neurotransmitter Release.” In his graduate work, Eric investigated the mechanism by which neurotransmitters send messages between neurons as a specific model system to study the general mechanism of intracellular membrane fusion. Specifically, he showed that multiple factors such as Munc18, Munc13, Complexin, and Synaptotagmin contribute to maintaining assembled trans-SNARE complexes in the presence of NSF-αSNAP using fluorescence spectroscopy (eLife 2019). Additionally, he investigated the inhibitory role of Complexin and solved a controversy over conflicting ITC data (eLife 2017). Eric plans to pursue a career in biochemistry/biophysics and would like to develop therapies that are at the cutting edge of drug discovery. Eric is now a scientist at Johnson and Johnson.

Bradley Quade, mentored by Dr. Jose Rizo-Rey, successfully defended his dissertation titled “Mechanistic Insights Into The Role of Munc13 In Synaptic Vesicle Docking, Priming, And Fusion.” During his graduate work, Brad used various biophysical techniques to characterize the role that Munc13 plays in interneuronal communication, ultimately showing that Munc13 is critical for synaptic vesicle docking. (ELife 2019) Brad will begin a postdoctoral research position in Dr. Xiaochen Bai’s lab where he will perform structural studies on receptor tyrosine kinases to further understand the mechanisms driving receptor tyrosine kinase signaling.

2018

December

Anthony Vega, mentored by Dr. Khuloud Jaqaman, successfully defended his dissertation, “Computer Vision to Characterize Protein Interactions at the Cell Membrane.” In his graduate work, Anthony developed a novel computational approach to detect transient changes in molecular mobility as well as developing quantitative approaches to study composition-dependent microcluster-actin interactions during T-cell activation. Anthony will continue on to his postdoctoral research in the labs of Dr. Marc Diamond and Dr. Satwik Rajaram at UT Southwestern. To read more about Anthony’s work during his graduate studies, please see his March, 2018 paper in Biophysical Journal, as well as in Cell and Journal of Cell Science.

November

Lindsay Clark, mentored by Dr. Dan Rosenbaum, successfully defended her dissertation, “Structural Studies of Integral Membrane Proteins Involved in GPCR Signaling and Sterol Homeostasis.” Lindsay developed and applied de novo isotopic labeling strategies to wild-type G protein-coupled receptors in order to facilitate NMR spectroscopic measurements connecting ligand efficacy to protein dynamics (Clark et al. 2017. eLife Oct 6;6. 10.7554/eLife.28505.) Also, in collaboration with the Radhakrishnan lab and the Brown and Goldstein labs, Lindsay used cryo-Electron Microscopy and X-ray crystallography to understand the allosteric changes involved in cholesterol sensing by membrane proteins in the SREBP pathway, a step toward a deeper understanding of this pathway and its role in disease. Lindsay will continue on to her postdoctoral research in the Lab of Dr. Tom Rapoport at Harvard Medical School, continuing her multidisciplinary approach to understand the structure-function of membrane proteins in the endoplasmic reticulum. To further explore Lindsay’s scientific achievements, please see her work in the Journal of Biomolecular NMR and Methods in Enzymology.

October

Elisabeth (Beth) Geyer, mentored by Dr. Luke Rice, successfully defended her dissertation titled “Mechanistic Analysis of Microtubule Dynamics and Regulation.” Beth has accepted a position as a scientist in the Antibody Engineering/Bispecifics Group at Janssen Pharmaceuticals (Johnson & Johnson). Beth’s main thesis project in the Rice Lab centered on dissecting the mechanism of a microtubule polymerase using a combination of protein engineering, quantitative biochemistry, and in vitro reconstitution monitored by time lapse two color TIRF microscopy. To read more about Beth’s work, please see her publications in Developmental Cell (2017), Journal of Cell Biology (2017), and eLife in 2018, 2017, and 2015.

September

Congratulations to Katelyn Doxtader in Dr. Yunsun Nam’s lab! Katelyn has just published a first-author paper in Molecular Cell titled “Structural Basis for Regulation of METTL16, an S-Adenosylmethionine Homeostasis Factor.”

Michael Trenfield in Dr. Milo Lin’s lab is our most recently appointed trainee to the Molecular Biophysics Predoctoral Training Program, funded by the NIH.

July

Whitney Costello, Molecular Biophysics graduate student in the Lab of Dr. Kendra Frederick, is awarded the FEBS Journal poster prize for her contribution to the 2018 EUROMAR meeting entitled “Digging into the core: studies of the yeast prion protein via DNP-NMR.” The FEBS journal has a long history of supporting early career scientists and is delighted to recognize their important contributions at this meeting.

May

We are excited to welcome six new students to the Molecular Biophysics Graduate Program this summer: Jordan Finnell and Michael LaCroix (Marc Diamond lab); Adam Osinski (Vincent Tagliabracci lab); Valerie Perez (jointly mentored by Lukasz Joachimiak and Marc Diamond); Michael Porter (Hamid Mirzaei lab); Alex Treacher (Albert Montillo lab); Mike Trenfield (Milo Lin lab); and Casey Wing (Yuh Min Chook lab). We look forward to hearing about your work!

Our 27th annual Molecular Biophysics Research Symposium was a resounding success! Best Research Presentation prizes were awarded to Lindsay Clark (Dan Rosenbaum lab), Anant Gharpure and Richard Walsh (Ryan Hibbs lab), Andrew Mathis (Kim Reynolds lab), Anthony Vega (Khuloud Jaqaman lab), and Wenmin Xing (Michael Rosen lab).

March

Claudio Morales-Perez in Dr. Ryan Hibbs’ lab is selected as one of 13 international recipients of the prestigious Harold M. Weintraub Graduate Student Award offered by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

2017

June

Whitney Costello, Graduate Student in the Lab of Dr. Kendra Frederick, is selected to participate in the National Science Foundation’s East Asia and Pacific Summer Institutes (EAPSI) Program. Whitney is one of only seven graduate students in Texas to be awarded a slot in this program.

MSTP student Tae Kim, in Dr. Luke Rice’s lab, and first year graduate student Sean Rogers, in Dr. Mike Henne’s lab, are chosen to participate in the Molecular Biophysics Predoctoral Training Program via a competitive completion.

May

The 26th annual Molecular Biophysics Research Symposium took place on May 5 at the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden. Allyson Rice, Lab of Dr. Michael Rosen, and Andrew Schober, Lab of Dr. Kimberly Reynolds, took home awards for the Best Research Talk. Anthony Vega, Lab of Dr. Khuloud Jaqaman, and Lindsay Clark, Lab of Dr. Dan Rosenbaum, were awarded Best Poster Presentation. Well done to Lindsay for winning an award for the third year in a row, and congratulations to all four students for their outstanding work!

We are very pleased to welcome the newest students to join our thriving program: Dailu Chen and Bryan Ryder, Lab of Dr. Lukasz Joachimiak; Michael Cotten, Lab of Dr. Michael Rosen; Abner Gonzalez and Jenny Jiou, Lab of Dr. Yuh Min Chook; Tae Kim, Lab of Dr. Luke Rice; Nathan Egge, Lab of Dr. Peter Douglas; Dagimhiwat Legesse, Lab of Dr. Ryan Hibbs; Nicholas Lesner, Lab of Dr. Prashant Mishra; Leigh Manley and Paul Blazek, Lab of Dr. Milo Lin; Sean Rogers, Lab of Dr. Mike Henne; Karolina Stepien, Lab of Dr. Jose Rizo-Rey; and Yujiao Wu, Lab of Dr. Rama Ranganathan. We look forward to helping these students develop their scientific careers!

April

New Biophysics faculty member Xiaochen Bai, Ph.D., joins the Molecular Biophysics program. We look forward to the benefit of his expertise in mentoring our excellent students!

Michael Cotten, first year student in Dr. Michael Rosen’s lab, is selected as our newest trainee on the Molecular Biophysics Predoctoral Training Program.

March

Whitney Costello (Lab of Dr. Kendra Frederick) is one of four graduate students at UT Southwestern to be award a National Research Fellowship from the National Science Foundation.