Welcome to the September edition of “On the Record with LP.” Classes have started, new BBSP students as well as undergraduates are finding their way around UNC and the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics (BCBP).
We welcome the very long list of undergraduates (Click here!) who are helping in our office and faculty labs. We know we haven’t captured all of you so more names will be listed in the next edition.
A big congratulations to Greg Wang, along with three other UNC faculty, for winning this year’s Hettleman Prize. Greg won this award due to his impressive program in cancer epigenetics, which is leading the way to new therapeutics. Greg uses cutting-edge approaches such as CRISPR/Cas9- genome editing and next-generation sequencing to better understand gene alterations that cause aggressive acute myeloid leukemia and prostate cancer. His research is well funded, with support from the V Foundation for Cancer Research, the Sidney Kimmel Foundation for Cancer Research, the American Society of Hematology, Concern Foundation for Cancer Research, Gabrielle’s Angel Foundation for Cancer Research, Gilead Sciences Research Scholars Program, When Everyone Survives (WES) Leukemia Research Foundation, the U.S. Department of Defense and three NIH R01’s over his relatively short time at UNC. You can read all about Greg’s receipt of the Hettleman Prize here.
OTHER RECENT HONORS:
Congratulations to Wolfgang Bergmeier on being promoted to tenured full professor! Wolfgang’s lab studies platelets and other blood cells in cardiovascular disease.
We congratulate HR Consultant Susan Sarvis on completing an SHRA hiring process within 35 days start to finish for the Button laboratory. These new and improved hiring procedures are a result of Operational Excellence, an initiative of the Provost’s office, overseen by Rick Wernowski. Congratulations Susan!
Megan DeMarco, our grants pre-award specialist, started as a student in a Masters of Public Health program at UNC (Class of 2021) just a few weeks ago, while continuing to working full time. Her concentration is Leadership in Practice. After graduation, she plans to use her degree and grant management experience in the non-profit management sector for youth and outreach in her local community. Her previous experiences align with LGBT+ health and health disparities research. Megan says ”My dream position would be serving underrepresented populations and LGBT+ youth. Public Health is an eclectic filed with countless career opportunities nationwide so I am excited to find my own path in a few short years! Until then I am thankful to be in a supportive department that is allowing me to pursue higher education while continuing to work with our amazing team.”
Saskia Neher has been accepted into the year-long ACCLAIM program (Academic Career Leadership Academy in Medicine) at UNC. This competitive and comprehensive program focuses on early and mid-career faculty and uses multi-faceted leadership development tools, executive coaches, and a collaborative learning environment. Congratulations Sasky!
Our new department diversity liaison to the SOM, Dr. Silvia Ramos, has provided a brief background and update on her role. Each department in the SOM now has a diversity liaison representative with the goal of decentralizing the process and assesses the current situation and the needs of each department. This program was envisioned by the late Dr. Paul Godley, MD, PhD, MPP, our first Vice Dean for Diversity and Inclusion, with the goal of increasing the diversity of students, staff, residents, post-docs and faculty and is being led by interim Vice Dean for Diversity and Inclusion, Dr. Julie Byerley, MD, MPH. The liaisons meet once a month to provide focus and effective direction for action. Silvia has now met twice with this group. They are working to define the meaning of ‘diversity and inclusion’ for the SOM. They also heard from Dr. Wendy Brewster, MD, PhD, Chair of the Faculty Diversity Council, on the activities and efforts to develop a Diversity Council Strategic Plan.
Teatime: Thanks to the Neher and Maness lab members for organizing and hosting a teatime event on August 30, with more than just tea. Yum!
Bagel Breakfast: Thanks to graduate students Gage Leighton and Aaztli Coria for organizing the monthly BCBP Bagel Breakfast that began on September 4. The next bagel event is on Wednesday, October 2.
BBSP Welcome Event: On September 5, we welcomed new BBSP students and new BCBP faculty member and Dean of the Graduate School, Dr. Suzanne Barbour, to the Back Bar at TOPO on Franklin Street. Despite the threatened approach of hurricane Dorian, we had a great turnout. Thanks to Lisa Phillippie for organizing.
Graduate Student Seminars: Thanks to Hashem Meriesh in the Strahl lab for organizing a graduate student only (no faculty allowed) seminar series which occurs once every month. This provides students with a relaxed and friendly crowd to present their latest work. We understand that Minh Huynh from the Campbell lab and Stephan Kudlacek from the Kuhlman lab presented on September 12.
BIOC 715, Scientific Presentation Class directed by Sasky Neher and Wolfgang Bergmeier, visited The PIT Chapel Hill, (PIT=People’s Improv Theatre) on September 12 for some improve lessons. I got to attend in Sasky’s place, since she had another event to attend. We definitely have many budding comedians! The instructor, Jenn, and students were awesome!
Postdoc appreciation week: BCBP showed our appreciation to our many hard-working postdocs with lunch from Merritt’s Grill on Sepember 18. Thanks to Lisa Phillippie for organizing this event on behalf of the department and thanks to all our postdoctoral fellows for their many contributions.
Faculty Roundtable: Assistant Professor Guochun Jiang kicked off the first faculty roundtable of the season on September 19, with an interesting discussion: “Deep latency: a functional cure of HIV?”. Thanks to Greg Wang for organizing these faculty-only presentation forums.
3nd BCBP SYNERGY MEETUP: Graduate student Adam Luthman and faculty member Bev Errede are keeping us on task with “BCBP Synergy”. Rotating BBSP students or others affiliated with the department who are interested but not yet signed up, should contact Adam to get on the list to be randomly assigned to a small group. The group can decide what they want to do to get to know each other better, whether it is simply taking a walk now that the weather has cooled, meet up over coffee, lunch, etc.
Departmental retreat: Our departmental retreat committee of faculty, students and staff (Rob McGinty, Brian Button, Gabrielle Budziszewski, Jamie Desoto, Reem Hakeem, Justin Rectenwald, and Nate Wesley) has been hard at work on our October 11 scientific retreat at the Carolina Inn. In addition to our departmental presenters, our guest alumni speakers are Michael Johnson from the University of Arizona and Jian Hu from MD Anderson Cancer Center.
Halloween Picnic: Keep an eye out for announcements about our Halloween picnic on Oct 30. Thanks to Lisa Phillippie and our GECO committee for planning this event.
Xian Chen recently received a grant from The University Cancer Research Fund for a project titled, “Deciphering non-canonical functions of the histone methylase G9a in TNBC carcinogenesis and therapy.”
Wentao Li, a postdoctoral fellow in the Sancar lab, received a highly competitive K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Award from the NIEHS, titled “Role of Aflatoxin-induced DNA Damage Formation and Repair in Hepatic Mutagenesis.”
Ben Roberts a graduate student in the Neher lab, recently received a notice of award for an F31 from the NIDDK, titled, “The molecular regulation of lipoprotein lipase activity.”
Leslie Parise recently received a Carolina Center of Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence Pilot Grant for a project titled, “Targeting CIB1 in breast cancer with peptide-enriched extracellular vesicle nanocarriers.” Her collaborators include the Bowers, Kabanov, and Pearce labs.
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Krokhotin A, Sarker M, Sevilla EA, Costantini LM, Griffith JD, *Campbell SL, *Dokholyan NV. *Joint corresponding authors. Distinct Binding Modes of Vinculin Isoforms Underlie Their Functional Differences. Structure. 2019 Aug 7. pii: S0969-2126(19)30245-X. doi: 10.1016/j.str.2019.07.013. [Epub ahead of print]
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Elizabeth C. Wayne, Christian Long, Matthew J. Haney, Elena V. Batrakova, Tina M. Leisner, Leslie V. Parise, Alexander V. Kabanov “Targeted Delivery of siRNA Lipoplexes to Cancer Cells Using Macrophage Transient Horizontal Gene Transfer. Advanced Science. 04 September 2019.