June 2017 News

Molecular Biosciences participated in the University of Kansas Doctoral Hooding Ceremony on May 13.  From left to right:  Yamini Mutreja, Kelly Harrison and her mentor Scott Hefty, Chris Gamblin (mentor to Yamini), Kristi Neufeld and her student Andy Wolfe, Jenny Gleason (mentor to Denny), Jiaqin Li (Computational Biology), Denny Swarzlander, Susan Egan (mentor to Jiaqin), Andrew Beaven (Chemistry) and his mentor Wonpil Im.


Molecular Biosciences participated in the University of Kansas Masters Hooding and Undergraduate Distinction/Highest Distinction Ceremony on May 13.  From left to right:  Yuxiao Guo (masters) and her mentor Liang Xu, and Emily Binshtok (Xu lab undergraduate awarded university honors).




On May 6, several graduating undergraduate students participated in the Undergraduate Honors Symposium, presenting original, independent research carried out in MB labs. Left to right: Michael Cory and Aidan Dmitriev (both mentored by Scott Hefty), Mackenzie Bloom (mentored by Kristi Neufeld), Alex Kohlenberg (mentored by Andrew Short from EEB), Tamara Tyner (mentored by James Thorp from EEB), Adam Reeves (mentored by Stuart Macdonald), Emily Binshtok (mentored by Liang Xu), Margaret Hornick (mentored by Chris Gamblin), and Kyle Rampetsreiter (mentored by Arghya Paul from Engineering). In the fall, Michael will attend graduate school at the University of Pennsylvania, Aidan will enter the MD/PhD program at the University of Pittsburg, MacKenzie will attend graduate school at St. Jude Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Adam will attend graduate school at Stanford, Emily will enter the MD/PhD program at UT Southwestern, and Maggie will attend medical school at KUMC. We wish all our graduating students the best of luck with their future careers.


Linda Wiley, Administrative Assistant for Molecular Biosciences since 1998, is retiring from the University of Kansas after 29 years of service.  Linda’s association with KU, however, began many years earlier, as an undergraduate student earning a bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a minor in painting and drawing.  She began her first full-time position at KU working with Continuing Education in 1987, and then worked with the French and African Studies Departments before joining our department.  Linda has a great interest in cultures and peoples of the world, having studied a variety of international music traditions, four different languages, and has interacted with people from around the world by teaching English as a second language for many years.  Linda plans to spend much of her newfound time with family, especially her parents, children and grandchildren. We will miss Linda’s wisdom and broad perspective, her kindness and sense of humor.  We wish her and her family all the best!




Mizuki Azuma (associate professor) is the recipient of a University of Kansas Cancer Pilot Project Grant for her proposal entitled “Role of O-GlcNAcylation of Ewing sarcoma proteins in chromosomal instability.”  Mizuki will work in collaboration with Chad Slawson (KUMC).  The goal of this project is to understand DNA mutations in a rare form of childhood bone cancer (Ewing sarcoma) by looking at how the chromosomes change after a sugar is attached to proteins implicated in disease progression.



Aubrie Stricker (undergraduate, Lundquist Lab) was selected as a K-INBRE Undergraduate Scholar for Spring and Summer of 2017.  Her work will involve the role of Rho GTPase signaling and microtubules in axon guidance in C. elegans.



Sarah Mullinax, Joanne Chapman and Rob Unckless (all members of the Unckless lab) participated in the University of Kansas Research Sprint from May 15th to May 19th.  The Research Sprints paired researchers with librarians to tackle a library-based project. The goal of the Unckless lab Sprint was to create and curate a comprehensive database of insect immune peptide function with the long term goal of understanding the links between amino acid sequence and antimicrobial activity. Librarians Rebecca Orozco, Erin Wolfe and Michael Peper helped construct search queries, conduct searches and extract data from papers. Scott Hanrath and Tom Shorock assisted in database construction. 



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June 2017 Presentations

Yoshi Azuma (professor) gave a seminar entitled “SUMO wrestles at the mitotic centromere to protect the integrity of genome” at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in Bethesda, Maryland on May 3.

Vi Leitenberger (Ackley lab) successfully defended her doctoral dissertation entitled “C. elegans LIN-12/Notch functions in parallel to Wnt signaling and FMI-1/Flamingo in anteroposterior axon guidance” on May 3.

Bryce Blankenfeld (Gamblin lab) successfully defended his masters thesis entitled “Characterization of a Novel Tau Aggregation Inhibitor Isolated from Fungal Secondary Metabolites” on May 8.


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June 2017 Publications

Zhang P, Wang X, Fan A, Zheng Y, Liu X, Wang S, Zou H, Oakley BR, Keller NP, Yin WP.  A cryptic pigment biosynthetic pathway uncovered by heterologous expression is essential for conidial development in Pestalotiopsis fici. Mol Microbiol.  [Epub ahead of print]

Peterson B, Xu L, Levy M.  Targeting multiple receptors on a cell surface for specific cell targeting.  US Patent No.  US 9,636,419, issued May 2.


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Molecular Biosciences

We are an interdisciplinary group of faculty who perform cutting edge research in a wide range of areas including biochemistry, biophysics, structural biology, bioinformatics, cancer biology, genetics, genomics, immunology, microbiology, virology, neurobiology, molecular, cellular and developmental biology.  We work closely with postdoctoral fellows, graduate students, and undergraduates to investigate fundamental biological problems on all levels from molecules to cells to organisms.  The Department of Molecular Biosciences, located on the Lawrence campus of the University of Kansas system, is an excellent environment for research and education.

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