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photo of garden volunteers with Leslie Parise

Welcome to the first edition of “On the Record with LP.” The purpose of this new blog is to go beyond the news stories on our website to capture more of the many wonderful accomplishments of faculty, trainees and staff in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics (BCBP). I would also like to highlight opportunities and issues of importance to biochemistry at UNC and beyond. In future editions, I hope to capture alumni updates as well.

Special thanks to Carolyn Clabo, Communications and Development Manager, for the blog name. If you don’t “get it”, just ask!

Carolyn Clabo
Carolyn M. Clabo, Communications and Development

CONGRATULATIONS to professor Jean Cook for being highlighted in a very important article in Science describing what UNC SOM is doing to address graduate student mental health.


New graduate students joining BCBP PhD tracks:

Amelia McCue: (Brian Kuhlman) – Biochemistry & Biophysics
Thanh Thanh Phan: (Brian Kuhlman) – Biochemistry & Biophysics
Xavier Bonner:  (Ron Swanstrom) – Biochemistry & Biophysics
Edgar Faison: (Qi Zhang) – Biochemistry & Biophysics
Baggio Evangelista: (Todd Cohen) – Biochemistry & Biophysics

photos of 5 Graduate students: Amelia McCue, Thanh Thanh Phan, Xavier Bonner , Edgar Faison and Baggio Evangelista
Graduate students: Amelia McCue, Thanh Thanh Phan, Xavier Bonner, Edgar Faison, and Baggio Evangelista

New Genetics Student working with Jean Cook:

Brandon Mouery: (Jean Cook) – Genetics & Molecular Biology

photo of Brandon Mourey 2019 Cook lab GMB graduate student
Graduate student Brandon Mouery (Cook lab)

New staff members – Leah Combs and Ashley Griffin, accounting technicians assisting Lynn Ray part-time from the Finance and Operations Service Center.

photo of staff
Leah Combs and Ashley Griffin, accounting technicians


Congratulations to Dr. Astor Ankney on his successful Ph.D. thesis defense for his work in Xian Chen’s lab on “Secretotranscriptomics:  A Novel Approach to the Discovery of Liquid Biopsy Biomarkers for Breast Cancer Prognosis

Ankney Astor PhD

Congratulations to graduates Dr. Pedro Pozo (Genetics & Molecular Biology) and Dr. Jacob Matson (Biochemistry & Biophysics) from the Cook lab.

photo at dr hooding at UNC in May 2019 with pedro pozo and jacob matson and dr jean cook
Drs. Pedro Pozo, Jean Cook, and Jacob Matson at the UNC doctoral hooding ceremony (May 11, 2019).

Congratulations to graduate Dr. Alex Chung (Pharmacology) from the Parise lab.

Drs. Alex Chung (Pharmacology) and Leslie Parise
Drs.Alex Chung & Leslie Parise (May 11, 2019 hooding ceremony)

For any graduations not mentioned, please send Carolyn pictures for the next blog post.


BCBP SYNERGY–Thanks to graduate student Adam Luthman and faculty member Bev Errede for launching the first “BCBP Synergy”, which by all accounts was a great success. This informal meetup platform uses the Strength^n software developed by our faculty colleague Amy Maddox in Biology. The second set of meetups are going on now.

PUBLIC SERVICE–Thanks to those hearty individuals who participated in the Carolina Campus Community Garden event. It was *only* 95°F with a heat index of 105°F. This garden provides low wage workers with fresh vegetables and is in special need of help during the summer months when many are away.

Carolina Campus Community Garden public service event.
UNC BCBP public service volunteers at the Carolina Campus Community Garden.


For serving as BBSP902 course co-mentors: Saskia Neher, Greg Wang, and Qi Zhang. Our very successful graduate umbrella admissions and training program, Biological and Biomedical Sciences Program (BBSP) directed by faculty member Jean Cook, Associate Dean for Graduate Education, depends on faculty participation. The first year of BBSP includes required, weekly classes (BBSP902) that provide early professional development, advising, strategies for graduate student success, training in responsible conduct of research, and early introduction to statistics and scientific rigor.

For serving on BBSP admissions committees:  Faculty members Xian Chen, Beverly Errede, Brian Kuhlman (served as weekend coordinator) Pengda Liu, Brian Strahl, Qi Zhang (served as committee chair) This committee evaluated more than 1700 applications to help select our outstanding new BBSP class for 2019.


Wolfgang Bergmeier, Gabriel and Dorsaff Ghalloussi picture (L to R)
Wolfgang Bergmeier, Gabriel and Dorsaff Ghalloussi picture (L to R)

Congratulations to:

Gabriel Harousseau, an undergrad student in the Bergmeier lab, received Highest Honors for his Honors Thesis work in Biology.

Faculty member Silvia Ramos received a Travel Fellowship to attend the RNA 2019 meeting in Krakow, Poland.

Chris Petell, in the Strahl lab was awarded postdoctoral fellowship from American Cancer Society, “Decoding the role of the PBRM1 BAH domains in tumorigenesis.”

Justin Rectenwald was awarded the 11th Annual “Diane Harris Leadership Award” for exemplary public service as a doctoral student in the UNC-CH Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics.

Justin Rectenwald, graduate student and lab member of Dr. Stephen Frye and Dr. Ken Pearce

Professors Brian Strahl (BCBP) and joint member Henrik Dohlman received an Excellence in Basic Science mentoring award from UNC, with a mention in the ASBMBTODAY newsletter.

Courtney Vaughn, a MD-PhD student in the Sancar lab, received an F30 fellowship for her research exploring the role of nucleotide excision repair and circadian rhythm in tumor and normal tissue response to platinum-based chemotherapy.


Wolfgang Bergmeier–NHLBI R35-Small GTPases in the biology of platelets and megakaryocytes

Pengda Liu–R21 Moonshot NCI Targeting EWS-FLI1 protein stability as therapeutic strategy for Ewing sarcoma and

NCBC “Targeting Cancer-Hijacked Mutational Landscape for Novel Cancer Therapy”,

Brian Strahl–UNC Creativity Hub finalist with Samantha Pattenden “Combining chemical biology approaches with epigenetics to identify, develop, and apply chemical tools to better understand epigenetic processes.


Bergmeier lab

  1. Misumi I, Cook KD, Mitchell JE, Lund MM, Vick SC, Lee RH, Uchimura T, Bergmeier W, Mieczkowski P, Pardo-Manuel de Villena F, Ting JPY, Whitmire JK. Identification of a Locus in Mice that Regulates the Collateral Damage and Lethality of Virus Infection. Cell Rep. 2019 Apr 30;27(5):1387-1396.
  2. Faes C, Ilich A, Sotiaux A, Sparkenbaugh EM, Henderson MW, Buczek L, Beckman JD, Ellsworth P, Noubouossie DF, Bhoopat L, Piegore M, Renoux C, Bergmeier W, Park Y, Ataga KI, Cooley BC, Wolberg AS, Key NS, Pawlinski R. Red blood cells modulate structure and dynamics of venous clot formation in sickle cell disease. Blood. 2019 Jun 6;133(23):2529-2541.
  3. Ghalloussi D, Dhenge A, Bergmeier W. New insights into cytoskeletal remodeling during platelet production. J Thromb Haemost. In press
  4. Stefanini L, Bergmeier W. RAP GTPases and platelet integrin signaling. Platelets. 2019;30(1):41-47.
  5. Lee RH, Stefanini L, Bergmeier W. Platelet Signal Transduction. In: Platelets, 4th Edition, Michelson, A. (Ed.).  San Diego: Elsevier/Academic Press, 2019; pp 329-348

Chen lab

John Wrobel et al., Multi-omic Dissection of Oncogenically Active Epiproteomes Identifies Drivers of Proliferative and Invasive Breast Tumors, iScience 2019,

Cook lab

Jacob Matson et al., Intrinsic checkpoint deficiency during cell cycle re-entry from quiescence  1 July » 218 (7): 2169 Selected for spotlight

Dowen lab

Schertzer MD et al., lncRNA-Induced Spread of Polycomb Controlled by Genome Architecture, RNA Abundance, and CpG Island DNA, Mol Cell, 2019,

McKay D et al, Advancements in mapping 3D genome architecture, Methods, 2019.

Maness lab

Vishwa Mohan et al., Close Homolog of L1 Regulates Dendritic Spine Density in the Mouse Cerebral Cortex Through Semaphorin 3B, The Journal of Neuroscience, 2019, in press.

Other labs

BCBP graduate student Keean Braceros (Calabrese lab, Pharmacology):

Schertzer M.D., Braceros K.C.A., Starmer J., Cherney R.E., Lee D.M., Salazer G., Justice M., Bischoff S.R., Cowley D.O., Ariel P., Zylka M.J., Dowen J.M., Magnuson T., Calabrese J.M. 2019. lncRNA-Induced Spread of Polycomb Controlled by Genome Architecture, RNA Abundance, and CpG Island DNA. Molecular Cell [Epub ahead of print] doi: 10.1016/j.molcel.2019.05.028

Schertzer M.D., Thulson E., Braceros K.C.A., Lee D.M., Hinkle E.R., Murphy R.M., Kim S.O., Vitucci E.M., Calabrese J.M. 2019. A piggyBac-based toolkit for inducible genome editing in mammalian cells. RNA [Epub ahead of print] doi: 10.1261/rna.068932.118.