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Welcome to the October 2019 edition of “On the Record with LP.” October was full of fun, especially with the department Halloween party.  Carolyn Clabo is working hard with our IT department on a newsletter and new and improved website, so “On the record” will go “off the record” temporarily until the New Year.

WELCOME to the following new BCBP employees:

Sonya Chung Research tech 2019

Seoyoung (Sonya) Chung, a Research Technician in Strahl Lab and a UNC grad.


Zoe Greene and Michaela Dodd Research techs Campbell lab 2019

Michaela Dodd (R) and Zoe Greene (L), Research Technicians in the Campbell Lab

Hiroaki Kawara

Hiroaki Kawara, a Postdoctoral Fellow in Sancar lab. Hiro was previously in the Sancar lab as a visiting scholar for 6 months in 2015, during the time that Dr. Sancar received the Nobel Prize. Welcome back, Hiro.

Max Lowman res tech 2019

Eric (Max) Lowman, a Research Technician in Strahl Lab and a UNC grad.

Ly Nguyen Res tech at Button lab 2019 CF

Ly Nguyen, a Research Technician in Button Lab.

Alex KP Maness lab 2019

Alex Kampov-Polevoi, a Research Technician in Maness Lab.


photo of Charlie Carter PhD Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics at UNC

As we mentioned earlier, Charlie Carter is an elected American Crystallographic Association (ACA) Fellow for 2019. Here is a newly released write-up in the ACA newsletter. ACA_Reflections_FALL 2019


Carolyn Clabo
Carolyn M. Clabo

Our new department Digital Accessibility Liaison, Carolyn Clabo, has been attending monthly meetings with UNC Information Technology Services since 2017.  She is part of the Digital Accessibility office (DOA) working group responsible for establishing UNC’s policy and standards for Digital Accessibility. Carolyn will be our point person and can provide information on resources that are available here at UNC. Read more about the Digital Accessibility office launches at ITS. For the DAO Office website and resources please click here. Join the next informational meeting to hear an overview on what the office does, the progress it has made on campus since launching, and why it’s so important for UNC to be digitally accessible. Event link to the next Lunch and Learn on November 27.


research retreat 2019 group photo cropped

Departmental research retreat: We had a fantastic retreat on October 11 at the Carolina Inn, where we welcomed back our guest alumni speakers, Michael Johnson from the University of Arizona and Jian Hu from MD Anderson.

Michael Johnson and Jian Hu speakers 2019

Congratulations to our 2019 presentation winners Cathy Anderson, Stephan Kudalcek, Ed Siraliev-Perez, and David Thieker. (Click on this link to see photos).

Many thanks to the departmental retreat committee of faculty, students and staff (Rob McGinty, Brian Button, Gabrielle Budziszewski, Jamie Desoto, Reem Hakeem, Justin Rectenwald, and Nate Wesley). A new feature was added — using lunch as a productive time to discuss various specific topics of interest at different tables.

retreat award winner 2019research retreat 2019 winner 2.

Next year’s retreat committee will be led by Brian Button and co-chaired by Laura Lindsey-Boltz to plan an off-campus retreat. They will be looking for volunteer students and postdocs to join them.

Halloween Picnic: Rain did not diminish the spirit or costume creativity of our Halloween picnic on Oct 30. Thanks to Lisa Phillippie and our GECO committee for planning a fun-filled event of pumpkin carving, bakeoff, and costume contests.

Costumes: Cheese
Qi’s Cheese
Costumes: Actin
Costumes: cryoEM
Costumes: Scooby Doo
Scooby Doo
Costumes: pipettes


4th BCBP SYNERGY MEETUP: We had another round of Synergy meetups in October, during some very nice weather. We will be taking a break from Synergy until the New Year, due to all the other events coming up in December and January. If you are not on the list for Synergy but want to be, please contact Adam Luthman. We especially encourage new rotating graduate student to get your name in so you can meet department members in a very relaxed setting.

Bagel Breakfast (thanks to Gage Leighton) on Wednesday, November 6 had a great turn out.


Be on the lookout for announcements about our upcoming Thanksgiving Potluck in November and our Holiday Party in December. Please see our complete event listings: November calendar and December calendar.

As part of UNC Research Week, we invite you to come to the cryo-EM Open House on Friday November 8th to meet with director Joshua Strauss.


Pengda Liu, along with Ian Davis’s group from Pediatric Hematology-Oncology received a $50K pilot grant from the Precision Medicine in Health Care initiative to test combination therapies in Ewing sarcoma.


From the Cook lab: Carrow Wells, Rafael M. Couñago, Juanita C. Limas, Tuanny L. Almeida, Jeanette Gowen Cook, David H. Drewry, Jonathan M. Elkins, Opher Gileadi, Nirav R. Kapadia, Alvaro Lorente-Macias, Julie E. Pickett, Alexander Riemen, Roberta R. Ruela-de-Sousa, Timothy M. Willson, Cunyu Zhang, William J. Zuercher, Reena Zutshi, and Alison D. Axtman SGC-AAK1-1: A Chemical Probe Targeting AAK1 and BMP2K, ACS Medicinal Chemistry Letters, Oct. 23, 2019.

From the Gaorav Gupta lab: Feng, E et al: Genetic determinants of cellular addiction to DNA polymerase theta. Nature Communications, Sept 19, 2019. See UNC writeup “Scientists implicate genes behind faulty DNA repair in breast cancer.”

From the Parise and Bergmeier labs: Stephen P. Holly, Nidhi Gera, Putianqi Wang,  Alexander Wilson, Ziqiang Guan, Ling Lin, Brian Cooley, Hammodah R. Alfar, Ruchi G. Patil, Raymond Piatt, Tina M. Leisner, Wolfgang Bergmeier, Rinku Majumder, Leslie V. Parise Ether lipid metabolism by AADACL1 regulates platelet function and thrombosis, Blood Advances, In press

From the Parise lab: Laila Elsherif, Noah Sciaky, Carrington A. Metts, Md. Modasshir, Ioannis Rekleitis, Christine A. Burris, Joshua A. Walker, Nadeem Ramadan, Tina M. Leisner, Stephen P. Holly, Martis W. Cowles, Kenneth I. Ataga, Joshua N. Cooper and Leslie V. Parise  Machine Learning to Quantitate Neutrophil NETosis  Scientific Reports, In press

From the Strahl lab: Gowans et al, Recognition of histone crotonylation by Taf14 links metabolic state to gene expression Molecular Cell, Oct 29, 2019.

From the Swanstrom lab: Abrahams MR et al, The replication-competent HIV-1 latent reservoir is primarily established near the time of therapy initiation  Science Translational Medicine, Oct 9, 2019:Vol. 11, Issue 513, 2019 plus issue cover!

From the Wolfenden lab: Charles Lewis and Richard Wolfenden: Ether Hydrolysis, Ether Thiolysis and the Catalytic Power of Etherases in the Disassembly of Lignin. Biochemistry, Oct 28, 2019

Dick Wolfenden provided the following intriguing explanation of the significance of this study:  Much of the carbon in the modern world is present in trees in the form of lignin, a complex polymer held together by ether linkages. After a tree falls in the forest and the chain saw has done its work, clusters of white rot fungi appear at the cut surfaces. These fungi contain an enzyme that uses glutathione (GSH) to attack ether linkages with a kcat of 30 times per second. In a paper Charlie Lewis and Richard Wolfenden show that this enzyme produces a rate enhancement of 10^15-fold. Without that enzyme, the half-life for hydrolysis of the ether linkages in lignin in water is 10^11 years, somewhat exceeding the age of the Universe.

Alumni news



Onur Dagliyan (2016) is a Scientist (Research Fellow) at Harvard Medical School, currently researching how sensory experience affects neuronal circuits at the molecular and cellular level.


Andrew Hemmert_alumni


Andrew Clinton Hemert (2010) works for BioFire Diagnostics as the Director of Biochemistry Research and Innovation.



Reed Jacob (2017 PhD from N. Dokholyan lab alumni a 2019 photo

Reed Jacob (2017, Dokholyan lab) accepted a position earlier this month, as a Computational Biochemist at UPL. Dr. Jacobs is responsible for adding computational research capabilities to their New AgTech division.


Deepak Jha_alumni

Deepak Jha (2014) is a postdoc with Prof. George Daley, who is the current Dean of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and professor of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology. See Deepak’s latest publications here.


Lydia Morrison_07

Lydia Ann Morrison (2007) currently manages social media for New England Biolabs. She also hosts a science-focused podcast called “Lessons from Lab and Life”, and oversees, a blog devoted to green practices in the laboratory.



Ramachandran lab

Srinivas Ramachandran (2011) currently is an Assistant Professor at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. He started his own lab in January 2018 and in August his lab their first big grant – MIRA from NIGMS. Title of the grant: “MAINTENANCE OF CELLULAR MEMORY THROUGH REPLICATION”


Shantanu_Sharma alumni


Shantanu Sharma (2009) is the Founder and CEO at is building out Stem Lending, a data-driven mortgage shopping startup.



Benfeard Williams (2017) completed a fellowship in the Technology Transfer Center at NCI. He also passed the patent exam to become a registered patent agent and then worked at Wilson, Sonsini, Goodrich & Rosati as a patent agent where he focused on cancer immunotherapies and medical devices. Benfeard then returned to NCI as a technology transfer manager where he currently works on patents, licensing inventions, and research agreements for labs at NCI, the NIH Clinical Center, and the National Institute on Drug Abuse.