News Archives 2012

Dr. Xiaodong Cheng Elected Fellow to AAAS

Xiaodong ChengXiaodong Cheng, professor of biochemistry and a Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar, was elected as a fellow to the 2012 American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Dr. Cheng was recognized for his "distinguished contributions to the field of epigenetics by elucidating structural insights and enzymatic mechanisms of DNA and histone modification enzymes."

Dr. Cheng is a distinguished structural biologist. He and his colleagues use X-rays to probe the details of the molecular machines that add and remove methylation. Methylation is a punctuation-like modification of DNA or DNA-packaging proteins. Methylation can influence which parts of the genetic code are read by an individual cell, without changing the actual letters. The study of methylation is part of epigenetics: examining how cells store information “on top of” the genetic code, with applications ranging from cancer to stem cells.

Cheng Lab Publishes Article in Nucleic Acids Research

NAR_Cheng_PublicationCongratulations to the Cheng Lab for their recent publication, "Structure and cleavage activity of the tetrameric MspJI DNA modification-dependent restriction endonuclease" in the journal, Nucleic Acids Research, Volume 40, Issue 19,  2012.

Dr. John Horton is the first author on the publication.

John Horton

Lydia Morris, Ph.D., Postdoc in Doetsch Lab

Lydia Morris

Lydia Morris, Ph.D., graduate of Emory University’s Graduate Division of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, GMB program, successfully defended her thesis in 2012 entitled, “Elucidating Mechanisms of Genetic Instability in Saccharomyces cerevisiae”. Lydia's research in the laboratory of Dr. Paul Doetsch focused on DNA damage, repair and mutagenesis primarily utilizing the model eukaryotic organism Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

Graeme Conn Edits Volume in Methods in Molecular Biology

Conn RNACongratulations to Graeme Conn who edited a recently published new volume in the successful Methods in Molecular Biology series: "Recombinant and In Vitro RNA Sysnthesis: Methods and Protocols" (volume 941, 2012). The volume also features two chapters from the Conn Lab written by MMG graduate student Ginny Vachon and former research specialist Jo Linpinsel.  

As described on the Human Press web site,  "Authorative and practical, Recombinant and In Vitro RNA Sysnthesis: Methods and Protocols aids scientists in continuing to study the fascinating world of RNA.

Anita Corbett Receives Faculty Mentor Award

Anita Corbett AwardCongratulations to Dr. Anita Corbett who received the Faculty Mentor Award from the Graduate Division of Biological and Biomedical Sciences. This award recognizes graduate faculty who demonstrate excellence in mentoring, advising, and nurturing the careers of younger trainees or colleagues. Anita has long been recognized among students and colleagues for her selfless and altruistic time commitment to mentoring and supervising students.

Cheng Lab Publishes Article in Genes and Development

Cheng PublicationCongratulations to the Cheng Lab for their recent publication, "An Atomic Model of Zfp57 Recognition of CpG Methylation within a Specific DNA Sequence," in the journal, Genes and Development, Fall 2012.

Liu Dr. Yiwei Liu, a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Cheng lab, is the first author on the publication.


Jean-Philippe Gourdine Featured in ASBMB's Research Spotlight

Jean-Philippe GourdineJean-Philippe Gourdine, Ph.D., in the Cummings lab is featured in the spotlight section of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) for September 2012.  Dr. Gourdine works on the identification of leukocyte glycoprotein receptors important for signaling by galectins, a family of glycan binding proteins expressed in many cell types, using diverse tools (glycan microarrays, affinity chromatography, western-blot, flow cytometry, confocal microscopy and inhibition experiments). Prior to coming to the USA, Dr. Gourdine completed his first postdoc in Glycobiology in Anne Imberty’s lab at the National Center for Scientific Research in Grenoble (CNRS, France). He has also taught biochemistry and evolutionary biology at the University of the French West Indies and Guyana (U.A.G) in Martinique and Guadeloupe, where he graduated with his Ph.D. in Marine Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in 2006.

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William S. Dynan Joins Emory School of Medicine and Winship Cancer Institute

William Dynan

William S. Dynan, Ph.D., one of the nation’s most pre-eminent molecular biologists has joined the Emory University School of Medicine and Winship Cancer Institute in July 2012 as Professor of Radiation Oncology and Biochemistry.

Dr. Dynan, a Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar, will focus his research on repairing double-strand breaks that occur in DNA from ionizing radiation. Such studies hold promise in cancer treatment because selective inhibition of DNA repair in tumor cells provides a strategy to increase the effectiveness of radiation therapy, while limiting normal tissue damage. Dynan’s research also has applications for gene correction for sickle cell disease. “The exciting thing here is using the strength of Emory’s current cancer biology focus very serious approach to its science. We’re going to push this to a whole new level,” said Dynan. “One of the things that really excites me is this joint appointment with biochemistry and radiation oncology. Emory and Winship are going to be great places to do our research.” Dynan already is working with Winship investigator Ya Wang and other faculty on a NASA-funded grant to explore whether the biological stress response and complex DNA damage that result from high charge and energy(HZE) particle radiation amplifies cancer risk among space and high-altitude air travelers. The question isn’t merely academic or geared only to astronauts; it raises the question of whether frequent fliers could be at higher risk for cancer.

Dynan comes to Emory and Winship from Georgia Health Sciences University, where he served as Associate Director for Research in the Institute of Molecular Medicine and Genetics. Prior to joining GHSU, Dynan was an Associate Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He has been a principal investigator on numerous studies funded by NIH-funded grants. He currently is principal investigator on a U.S. Department of Energy Low Dose Radiation Research Program study to investigate the influence of specific DNA damage surveillance and repair pathways on radiation-induced genomic instability. He also is principal investigator on a National Cancer Institute study to investigate to role of a family of RNA binding proteins that have a dual function in DNA double-strand break repair.

“We are thrilled to have Bill Dynan, who is one of the most highly regarded molecular biologists in the country, join our already outstanding team of scientists at Winship,” said Dr. Walter J. Curran, Jr. executive director of Winship Cancer Institute and Lawrence W. Davis Chair of Radiation Oncology. “As a radiation oncologist, I am particularly excited that his life’s work has applications on ways in which we can help deliver life-saving radiation therapy.”

Dr. William S. Dynan has also recently become a member of Emory’s MilliPub Club for two authored articles that have been cited at least 1000 cites each.  Emory University introduced the MilliPub Club in 2009 to honor faculty that have authored articles, whether in their time at Emory or throughout their career, that have reached this tremendous milestone. Dr. Dynan will be formally inducted into the MilliPub Club at the annual 2012 ceremony to be held on October 11, 2012.
Dr. Dynan’s articles that have reached the MilliPub Club level are:

Author(s): DYNAN, WS; TJIAN, R
Source: CELL  Volume: 35   Issue: 1   Pages: 79-87   DOI: 10.1016/0092-8674(83)90210-6   Published: 1983
Times Cited: 1,193 (from Web of Science)
Author(s): DYNAN, WS; TJIAN, R
Source: NATURE  Volume: 316   Issue: 6031   Pages: 774-778   DOI: 10.1038/316774a0   Published: 1985
Times Cited: 1,098 (from Web of Science)

Paul Doetsch publishes book entitled, "Progress in Molecular Biology and Translational Science."

doetschBookCoverPaul Doetsch, Ph.D., Professor, Departments of Biochemistry, Radiation Oncology
and Hematology & Medical Oncology, and Distinguished Chair in Cancer Research, is editor of, "Progress in Molecular Biology and Translational Science," an 11 chapter volume addressing a number of major issues in the areas of DNA repair and the orchestration of the DNA damage response. The chapters and topics are presented as a progression from prokaryotic to eukaryotic cellular models and experimental strategies designed to interrogate the operational features of the major DNA damage management systems.


Graeme Conn Appointed AHA Peer Review Co-Chair

GraemeGraeme Conn, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Biochemistry, was appointed co-Chair of the American Heart Association's Basic Cell, Proteins, and Crystallography Peer Review Study Group. Dr. Conn's research focuses on RNA methyltransferases that confer resistance to antibiotics; innate immune evasion by viruses using non-coding RNAs; and sweet taste receptor structure and ligand interactions.

Eric Ortlund Receives Renewed Appointment to MSP Executive Committee

EricEric Ortlund, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Biochemistry, received a renewed appointment to the Molecular Systems Pharmacology (MSP) Executive Committee. He was also elected to the Editorial and Advisory Board for Molecular Pharmacology and the Reviewer Board for the Journal of Pediatric Biochemistry. Dr. Ortlund's lab uses structural biology to focus on nuclear receptor mediated transcriptional activation, on complexes between specific lipid transporters and their cognate nuclear receptor recipients and on utilizing structure and ancestral gene resurrection to understand the evolution of novel function within proteins.


Callie Wigington named Junior Scientist-Representative to the RNA Society

CallieCallie Wigington, BCDB Graduate Student in the Corbett Laboratory, has been asked to serve as one of four Junior Scientist representatives to the RNA Society for a two-year term. Callie will help coordinate Junior Scientist activities (workshops and social events) at the Annual RNA Society Meeting, contribute reports of Junior Scientist activities to RNA Society newsletters and attend the 2013 RNA Society Meeting in Davos, Switzerland. Callie (far left) is shown here attending the 2011 RNA Society meeting in Kyoto, Japan.


Ayan Banerjee Wins Award for Outstanding Presentation

AyanCongratulations to Ayan Banerjee, Ph.D., a joint post-doc in the Corbett and Pavlath (Pharmacology) Laboratories. Ayan's recent presentation of his work entitled, "Ubiquitous RNA Processing Factors Altered in Tissue Specific Disease: Analysis of the Regulation of PABPN1, a Key Regulator of Polyadenylation, Mutated in Oculopharyngeal Muscular Dystrophy" was selected as an outstanding poster presentation at the 2012 New Directions in Biology and Disease of Skeletal Muscle Conference in New Orleans. In recognition of this award, Ayan received a travel grant.