Link: University of Iowa

2017 Biochemistry Newsletter now available

November 16th, 2017 by Maren Rogers

The 2017 Biochemistry @ Iowa newsletter is hot off the presses and available for download. Alumni and friends should receive a hard copy in the mail this week. If you would like to be added to our mailing list, please send your contact information to While you are at it, feel free to send us your news and updates! Previous newsletters are also available online.

Miles Pufall received Donald D. Dorfman Award

October 31st, 2017 by Maren Rogers

Dr. Miles Pufall received the 2017 Donald D. Dorfman Award of $10,000 for his paper entitled “Suppression of B-cell development genes is key to glucocorticoid efficacy in treatment of acute lymphoblastic leukemia,” which was published in the June 2017 issue of Blood. The Dorfman Award is given annually to the best research papers in leukemia and lymphoma research among members of the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center. Congratulations, Dr. Pufall!

Ryan Sheldon receives F32 award

September 18th, 2017 by Maren Rogers

Ryan Sheldon, a Postdoc in the Taylor laboratory, received an F32 Postdoctoral Fellowship awarded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Dr. Sheldon’s project entitled “Regulation of Hepatic Lipogenesis by a Mitochondrial Pyruvate Carrier-Citrate Carrier Axis,” addresses the major public health problem of hyperlipidemia during Type 2 Diabetes.

Excess lipid production in the liver during type 2 diabetes leads to elevated lipids in the liver and circulation, which in turn drives many diabetes associated complications. The liver can make lipids from glucose. To do this, the glucose metabolite pyruvate is imported into mitochondria, converted to citrate, and exported to the cytosol, where is it channeled into pathways for making cholesterol and fatty acids. This research project seeks to understand how the mitochondrial pyruvate carrier and mitochondrial citrate carrier work together to influence liver lipid synthesis, accumulation, and release. Success may reveal opportunities for decreasing liver and circulating lipid content, thereby improving health outcomes in type 2 diabetes.

Congratulations, Ryan!

Elizabeth Boehm receives 2017 Subramanian Thesis Award

August 31st, 2017 by Maren Rogers

Elizabeth Boehm, who completed her PhD with Dr. M. Todd Washington, has been awarded the 2017 Subramanian Award for best PhD thesis in the Department of Biochemistry. Dr. Boehm’s thesis was entitled “The regulation of translesion synthesis through binding and activation of polymerases by PCNA.” Elizabeth received her PhD in June 2016 and is currently a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Johannes Walter at Harvard Medical School.

Elizabeth is the 22nd winner of the Subramanian Award, which is made possible by a gift from Dr. Alap Subramanian, a 1964 PhD from the department, who parlayed his training with the late George Kalnitsky, (and with Irving Klotz at Northwestern and both Bernard Davis and Herman Kalckar at Harvard Medical School), into a highly successful career at the Max-Planck-Institut. Our deepest thanks to Dr. Subramanian and our heartiest congratulations to Dr. Boehm.

Please visit our website for a complete list of previous winners of the Subramanian Award.

Highlights of the 8th Annual Biochemistry Retreat

August 31st, 2017 by Briana Horwath

The Department of Biochemistry held their 8th Annual Retreat on August, 26, 2017, in the Pomerantz Center on the University of Iowa Campus. The retreat featured talks by Brittany Ripley (Graduate Student-Washington Lab), Pamela Geyer (Professor), Adam Rauckhorst (Postdoc.-Taylor Lab), and Maria Spies (Professor) and 32 poster presentations.

It was exciting to learn about all the science happening in the Department! Congratulations to the winners of the various contests listed below.

Graduate Student/Postdoc Poster Competition
There was a three way tie for 1st place.
Emily Malcolm Cushing (Davies Lab) “GPIHBP1-independent mechanisms of triglyceride clearance”
Lalita Oonthonpan (Taylor Lab) “A conserved role for the MPC1 C-terminus in MPC complex assembly and function”
Arpit Sharma (Taylor Lab) “Loss of skeletal muscle Mpc1 in mice stimulates fatty acid oxidation, leanness, and nitrogen retention”

Undergraduate/Others Poster Competition
Myles Young (Taylor Lab) “Nutritional-metabolic regulation of mitochondrial morphology”

Art Show Competition
Tingting Duan (Geyer Lab) “The Beauty of Drosophila”

Congrats Summer 2017 Biochemistry PhD Graduates!

August 17th, 2017 by Briana Horwath

Jennifer Bays, a Biochemistry PhD student mentored by Dr. Kris DeMali, received a PhD on August 4, 2017. Jen’s thesis is entitled, ” Mechanisms of E-cadherin Mechanotransduction”. Jen has accepted a postdoctoral position with Dr. Chris Chen at Boston University.




John Brogie, a Biochemistry PhD student mentored by Dr. David Price, recieved a PhD on August 4,2017. His thesis is entitled,”Reconsitution and functional analysis of 7SK snRNP”. John has accepted a postdoctoral position at Iowa State University


Xun (Allison) Chi, a Biochemistry PhD student mentored by Dr. Brandon Davies, received her PhD on August 4, 2017. Her thesis is entitled, “Extracellular regulation of LPL activity by angiopoietin-like proteins”. Xun has accepted a postdoctoral position with Dr. Steve Bensinger at the University of California Los Angeles.




Sarah Hengel, a Biochemistry PhD student mentored by Dr. Maria Spies, received her PhD on August 4, 2017. Her thesis is entitled, “Dissecting RAD52 function in DNA repair”. Sarah has accepted a postdoctoral position in Dr. Kara Bernstein’s Lab at the University of Pittsburgh in the Hillman Cancer Center.

Madeline Shea receives Biophysical Society’s Emily M. Gray Award

August 4th, 2017 by Maren Rogers
Congratulations to Dr. Madeline Shea who was chosen to receive The Biophysical Society’s Emily M. Gray Award for her outstanding contributions to education in biophysics at all educational levels in local, regional, and national communities. Read more on Dr. Shea’s nomination here.
The Biophysical Society, founded in 1958, is a professional, scientific Society established to encourage development and dissemination of knowledge in biophysics. The Society promotes growth in this expanding field through its annual meeting, monthly journal, and committee and outreach activities. Its 9000 members are located throughout the U.S. and the world, where they teach and conduct research in colleges, universities, laboratories, government agencies, and industry. For more information on these awards, the Society, or the 2018 Annual Meeting, visit

Samuel Trammell receives special Graduate Deans’ Distinguished Dissertation Award

July 13th, 2017 by Maren Rogers

Dr. Samuel Trammell, a 2016 Genetics PhD with Dr. Charles Brenner, is the recipient of a Graduate Deans’ Distinguished Dissertation Award for his dissertation entitled “Novel NAD+ Metabolomics Technologies and Their Applications to Nicotinamide Riboside Interventions.” The Graduate Deans’ Distinguished Dissertation Award is made only occasionally and recognizes exceptionally meritorious scholarship. Dr. Trammell will be recognized at the 20th Annual James F. Jakobsen Memorial Research Conference on Saturday, March 24, 2018, at the Iowa Memorial Union. Dr. Trammell is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Copenhagen with Dr. Matthew Gillium working on lipid metabolism in diabetes.


Sheila Baker promoted to Associate Professor

July 13th, 2017 by Maren Rogers

Congratulations to Dr. Sheila Baker on her recent promotion to Associate Professor with Tenure!

Dr. Baker began working as an assistant professor in the Department of Biochemistry in July 2010 after completing a PhD at the Medical College of Wisconsin and postdoctoral fellowship with Dr. Vadim Y. Arshavsky at both Harvard Medical School and Duke University. During this period, she established novel systems for monitoring photoreceptor protein localization in frog eyes. Promoted to Research Assistant Professor at Duke in 2009, Dr. Baker wrote her first R01 proposal to the National Eye Institute, which was funded for five years. Dr. Baker has achieved national and international recognition as a scholar in protein trafficking in the vision system.

Colten Lankford receives multiple travel awards to attend FASEB summer conference

July 13th, 2017 by Maren Rogers

Colten Lankford, a Molecular & Cellular Biology (MCB) graduate student in Dr. Sheila Baker’s laboratory, received travel awards from both the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) and the MCB program to attend the FASEB summer conference on the Biology and Chemistry of Vision in Steamboat Springs, CO held June 25-30. Colten presented a Data Blitz and poster titled “Identification of HCN1 as a novel 14-3-3 client protein.”