Edward A. Doisy Department of
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Department of Biochemistry News
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Frances Yap Receives Mallinckrodt Grant

Congratulations to Frances Yap, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Biochemistry, who was awarded a grant from the Edward Mallinckrodt, Jr. Foundation. Dr. Yap's project will study the ligand- and sequence-specific inhibition of protein synthesis by antibiotics.

The Edward Mallinckrodt, Jr. Foundation funds basic research projects in the St. Louis area, as well as throughout the United States, with emphasis on supporting early stage investigators. Research of recipients usually focuses on furthering the understanding or treatment of human disease. For more information, see the Foundation website.








Mediomics Awarded National Cancer Institute Grant

Mediomics recently received a $970,000 Small Business Innovation Research grant from the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health. The grant will be used to continue development of the Pincer platform, an automated analyzer screening program. Mediomics was founded in 2001 by Yie-Hwa Chang, Ph.D., Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and specializes in the creation of testing kits for research and educational use.

The story was featured in the St. Louis Business Journal. You can read the full story here.







2014 Doisy Undergraduate Biochemistry Scholars

We are pleased to welcome the 2014 Undergraduate Scholars to the department. Pictured from left to right are Mary Clare McGlynn, Megan Fabry, Catie Knoverek, and Monica Carron.

















Mary will work in Thomas Cho's lab, Megan and Monica will work in Alessandro Vindigni's lab, and Caite will work in Yuna Ayala's lab. The summer research cycle will start in June and finish in August.

First Recipient of Sly Fellowship Announced

Congratulations to Ray Kreienkamp, the first recipient of the William S. Sly Fellowship in Biomedical Sciences. Ray is an M.D./Ph.D. student in Dr. Susana Gonazlo's lab.

The William S. Sly Fellowship provides full support for meritorious M.D./Ph.D. students who decide to join the Biochemistry program for their Ph.D. training.







Microgravity enhances protein crystallization

Sergey Korolev, Ph.D. and Enrico Di Cera, M.D. recently sent protein crystallization samples into space aboard the Space X Dragon capsule. The samples will spend several months at the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory before returning to Earth for analysis.



The microgravity environment may help improve the resolution of the crystal structures both researchers are trying to grow and purify. Their research is the result of a grant obtained from the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), which was chosen by NASA to manage the laboratory on the ISS.



Dr. Korolev, an Associate Professor in the Department of Biochemistry, is attempting to crystalize calcium-independent phospholipase A2, an enzyme which is involved in many reactions in the body, including inflammation, heart metabolism and signaling. Because it is a part of so many processes, it has been difficult to purify and determine how it interacts with other molecules. He hopes that obtaining high resolution crystals will help answer these questions.



Dr. Di Cera, Alice A. Doisy Professor and Chairman in the Department of Biochemistry, is studying the structure of prothrombin, the precursor to thrombin and a key factor in the clotting cascade. Obtaining high resolution crystals of this important molecule will allow him to better understand how prothrombin is activated and how it can be utilized for blood-related diseases.



You can read the full story in Newslink. A full outline of the research can be found on the NASA site.





Merlow Dunham awarded Undergraduate Fellowship

Congratulations to Merlow Dunham, who was awarded a 2014 American Heart Association Summer Undergraduate Fellowship for her studies on novel chlorinated lipids in monocytes and macrophages. Merlow is a senior at Saint Louis University and a student worker in David Ford's lab in the Department of Biochemistry.

The AHA Summer Undergraduate Fellowship aims to encourage promising students to consider research careers while supporting studies on cardiovascular disease and stroke.







Mark Duerr awarded Predoctoral Fellowship

Congratulations to Mark Duerr, who was awarded a 2014 American Heart Association Midwest Affiliate Predoctoral Fellowship for for his project entitled "Chlorinated lipid mediation of contractile dysfunction in cardiac ischemia reperfusion injury." Mark is a graduate student in David Ford's lab in the Department of Biochemistry.

The AHA Predoctoral Fellowship supports trainees initiating careers in cardiovascular disease and stroke research before they are ready to establish an independent lab.







Biochemistry Faculty receive PRF grants

The results of the ninth round of the President's Research Fund were announced recently. Three Biochemistry faculty were among the recipients of these awards.

Congratulations to:

  • Maureen Donlin, "Identification and characterization of cell wall stress sensors in the human pathogen Cryptococcus neoformans"
  • Alireza Rezaie, "Molecular determinants of the specificity of factor IX and factor IXa interaction with their physiological targets in the extrinsic and intrinsic pathways"
  • Alessandro Vindigni, "Human RECQ1 helicase mechanism of Holliday junction branch migration"

The President's Research Fund is in its fifth year of funding projects that have a strong potential for obtaining external funding for SLU investigators. The funds are used to collect preliminary data for a new or related project, and also support cross-disciplinary projects to maximize collaborations across departments and schools at SLU. Applications are accepted twice a year, in May and October. For more information, see the Research Planning Committee website.

Single Molecules Workshop

The Department of Biochemistry and PicoQuant co-hosted a 1-day workshop on December 12, 2013 entitled "MaD for Single Molecules: New Techniques for Detection and Imaging." The workshop highlighted Macromolecular Dynamics (MaD) for single molecules and the PicoQuant MicroTime 200.

The workshop featured talks by a PicoQuant scientist as well as several investigators from area universities. In addition to the talks, the MicroTime 200 was demonstrated in real-time via video uplink from the lab. The workshop was attended by close to 100 registered participants.




















2013 Biochemistry Retreat

The annual Biochemistry Retreat was held October 11-12, 2013 in New Haven, MO at the Cedar Creek Conference Center. On Friday afternoon, various lab members had the opportunity to give a brief talk on their recent research. Each lab was also able to present a poster at the informal poster session that evening. Attendees had time for fun and games by participating in various sports and recreation activities.

The retreat concluded on Saturday afternoon following several more presentations.

Biochemistry Department featured in MO Medicine

The Department of Biochemistry was featured in the July/August 2013 issue of MO Medicine. The cover of the journal shows the department's founder and namesake, Edward A. Doisy, M.D., and highlights the history of the department over the last 90 years.

Several faculty members, including Joel Eissenberg, Ph.D., Dale Dorsett, Ph.D., Alessandro Vindigni, Ph.D., Susana Gonzalo, Ph.D., Frances Yap, Ph.D., Yoonsang Cho, Ph.D. and Ángel Baldán, Ph.D. wrote research articles for the special issue as well. The department history and all of the faculty articles can be viewed here: MO Medicine.











Ángel Baldán and Tomasz Heyduk receive PRF grants

The results of the eighth round of the President's Research Fund were announced recently. Two Biochemistry faculty were among the recipients of these awards.

Congratulations to:

  • Ángel Baldán, Ph.D.: "A new pathway linking cholesterol and glucose metabolism"
  • Tomasz Heyduk, Ph.D.: "Next generation sequencing as a readout in bioanalytical assays"

The President's Research Fund is starting its fifth year of funding projects that have a strong potential for obtaining external funding for SLU investigators. The funds are used to collect preliminary data for a new or related project, and also support cross-disciplinary projects to maximize collaborations across departments and schools at SLU. Applications are accepted twice a year, in May and October. For more information, see the Research Planning Committee website.

Matteo Berti awarded EMBO short-term fellowship

Matteo Berti, Research Assistant in the laboratory of Alessandro Vindigni, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Biochemistry, has been awarded a short-term fellowship from the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO). The fellowship will allow Matteo to spend two months in Zurich, Switzerland to learn state-of-the-art electron microscopy approaches to visualize DNA replication intermediates. The overall purpose of the short-term fellowships is to support joint research work and enable collaborations between research groups in other countries. The fellowship covers travel and subsistence for the awardee.

EMBO was established in 1964 and is now comprised of more than 1,500 researchers. EMBO aims to support researchers in all stages of their careers, to facilitate information exchange through courses, workshops and conferences, and provide training and collaboration opportunities.



STARS student, Shaori Tomatsu, wins Excellence in Research Award

Students and Teachers as Research Scientists (STARS) student and Clayton High School senior, Shaori Tomatsu, was one of 35 students honored with the LMI Aerospace Inc./D3 Technologies Award for Excellence in Research. Her paper entitled "26S proteasome inhibition in aggregation of the protein antitrypsin" was based on research done in the lab of Dorota Skowyra, Ph.D., an Associate Professor in the Department of Biochemistry. The award is given to students who distinguished themselves during their summer research period and the winning papers were the best in terms of difficulty and complexity of research, appropriateness of research methods, findings, quality of the writing, and the overall quality of the research.

The STARS program is sponsored by the University of Missouri-St. Louis in partnership with the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in Creve Coeur, MO, Saint Louis University, and Washington University in St. Louis. The six-week program introduces exemplary high school juniors and seniors to scientific research through mentoring by established investigators, lectures by guest scientists, instruction on the research process, and presentation of results.

Sly syndrome clinical trial to begin soon

Ultragenyx Pharmaceutical Inc. announced recently that they will begin a Phase 1/2 clinical trial to test UX003, a recombinant human β-glucuronidase, to treat mucopolysaccharidosis type VII or Sly syndrome. MPS VII is a rare, autosomal recessive lysosomal storage disease that causes multiple organ dysfunction and for which there is currently no cure.

MPS VII was first characterized by William Sly, M.D., Professor and Emeritus Chairman in the Department of Biochemistry, in 1973 and is one of the rarest of the lysosomal storage diseases. The deficiency of β-glucuronidase causes a build-up of mucopolysaccharides in multiple tissues, leading to various symptoms, such as skeletal abnormalities, short stature and joint deformities, enlarged liver and spleen, and heart valve abnormalities.

Ultragenyx is a private biotechnology company working to provide treatments for rare genetic diseases. It was founded in 2010 by Emil Kakkis, M.D., Ph.D., who is known for his work in developing treatments for ultrarare disorders.

Inhibition of "Fork Reversal" Improves Cancer Treatment

Alessandro Vindigni, Ph.D, Associate Professor of Biochemistry, recently published an article entitled "Human RECQ1 promotes restart of replication forks reversed by DNA topoisomerase I inhibition" in Nature Structural & Molecular Biology.

The article describes his lab's recent research results on how cancer cells respond to topoisomerase I (TOP1) inhibitors, a common class of anti-cancer drugs used in chemotherapy. Cancer cells can use a "fork reversal" process to repair nicks left in DNA strands by TOP1 inhibitors, thus reducing their effectiveness. The Vindigni lab found that two cellular proteins, PARP and RECQ1, can control the fork reversal process and increase the effectiveness of TOP1 inhibitors in cancer treatment, perhaps even allowing the use of lower TOP1 inhibitors and inducing fewer side effects.

You can read the full story in Newslink.




Armbrecht article featured in ASBMB Today

Harvey J. Armbrecht, Ph.D, Professor of Internal Medicine-Geriatrics, wrote an article entitled "My Spouse and the Mouse" that was featured in the recent issue of ASBMB Today. The article details his wife's diagnosis with Lewy body disease, which is related to Alzheimer's disease, and work on the SAMP8 mouse, a spontaneous animal model for early memory loss. The mouse has been used in the lab to help identify the cause of and possible treatments for Alzheimer's disease.






2013 Doisy Undergraduate Biochemistry Scholars

We are pleased to welcome the 2013 Undergraduate Scholars to the department. Pictured from left to right are Merlow Dunham, Andrew McLaughlin, and Kawen Zhang.

















Merlow will work in Dave Ford's lab, Andrew will work in Enrico Di Cera's lab, and Kawen will work in Frances Yap's lab. The summer research cycle will start in June and finish in August.

Dale Dorsett gives inaugural lecture

Dale Dorsett, Ph.D, Professor of Biochemistry, will give the Inaugural Laird and Marie Jackson Lectureship on Friday, June 7, 2013 in Philadelphia. The lecture is sponsored by the Center for Cornelia de Lange Syndrome and Related Diagnoses at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Dr. Dorsett's lecture is entitled " Using Drosophila to understand the molecular mechanisms underlying Cornelia de Lange syndrome." His pioneering research in the field of cohesinopathies has greatly expanded the understanding and mechanisms behind these diseases and helped identify potential therapies.







Baldán lab publishes two papers

Ángel Baldán, Ph.D, Assistant Professor of Biochemistry, recently published two papers detailing his research on microRNA and cholesterol efflux. The first paper entitled "MicroRNA-144 regulates hepatic ABCA1 and plasma HDL following activation of the nuclear receptor FXR." The paper was published in Circulation Research on March 21 and continues his research on microRNAs and bile acid receptors, which can regulate plasma HDL levels. The article recently appeared in PubMed.

The second paper was published in Cell Metabolism on April 2 and is entitled "Impaired cholesterol efflux in senescent macrophages promotes age-related macular degeneration." The paper details research showing that poor cholesterol efflux in older macrophages leads to polarization and and age-related diseases, such as macular degeneration. They also showed that treatment may be able reverse the degenerative effects and could provide therapies for age-related disease. The article also is available in PubMed.

Outstanding St. Louis Scientist Awards 2013

The Academy of Science - St. Louis Outstanding St. Louis Scientists Awards were presented on April 24, 2013 in the Starlight Room of the Chase Park Plaza. Each year, the Academy recognizes local individuals and/or institutions who are known worldwide for their outstanding contributions to science, engineering, and technology.


Ángel Baldán, Ph.D, Assistant Professor of Biochemistry, received the Innovation Award, which recognizes a scientist or engineer (age 40 or under) who has demonstrated exceptional potential for future accomplishments in science, engineering or technology.



Dale Dorsett, Ph.D., Professor of Biochemistry, received the Fellows Award, which recognizes a distinguished individual for outstanding achievement in science.


To see all awards and for more information about the ceremony, see the story on the Academy of Science - St. Louis site. (Note: pictures from Academy of Science - St. Louis)






Di Cera publication featured on JBC cover

A paper entitled "Autoactivation of thrombin precursors" by Nicola Pozzi, Ph.D. and the Di Cera lab will be published in the April 16 edition of The Journal of Biological Chemistry. The cover of the journal will feature a figure created by Tracey Baird, showing the crystal structures of the mutant S195A prethrombin-2 (cyan) and thrombin (gold) bound to argatroban (yellow sticks).

The paper discusses new findings showing that thrombin zymogen precursors are capable of catalytic activity and autoactivation. Activity of the mature thrombin protease is regulated by conformational selection in the trypsin fold, which could unlock autoactivation of the zymogen. Both the zymogen and protease exist in equilibrium between the active and inactive forms, which helps regulate the catalytic activity of the protease and could unlock activity of the zymogen. The production of enzymes through zymogen autoactivation could be applied to many clinically relevant trypsin-like proteases.











Biochemistry Faculty receive PRF grants

The results of the seventh round of the President's Research Fund were announced recently. Two Biochemistry faculty were among the recipients of these awards.

Congratulations to:

  • Dale Dorsett, "Transcriptional control of active genes by the PRC1 Polycomb repressor complex"
  • Susana Gonzalo, "Testing a new modality of treatment for triple-negative breast cancer"

The President's Research Fund is in its fourth year of funding projects that have a strong potential for obtaining external funding for SLU investigators. The funds are used to collect preliminary data for a new or related project, and also support cross-disciplinary projects to maximize collaborations across departments and schools at SLU. Applications are accepted twice a year, in April and October. For more information, see the Research Planning Committee website.

Telomeres play a role in cancer and aging

Joel Eissenberg, Ph.D., Professor of Biochemistry, recently published an article in the January/February 2013 issue of Missouri Medicine. The article, entitled "Telomeres, Cancer & Aging: Live Long and Prosper?" reviews research on telomeres, protective DNA sequences at the ends of chromosomes. Telomeres could play a role in aging and lifespan, since they protect chromosome ends from fraying and damage. They could also be a potential target for treating tumor cells, which have a much higher expression of telomerase, helping them to achieve immortality through telomere stability.





Vindigni lab research may improve cancer treatment

Alessandro Vindigni, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Biochemistry, recently published new findings that could help to improve existing chemotherapy treatments for cancer patients. The study, published in Nature Structural and Molecular Biology on February 10, details their work on the role of RECQ1 helicase during replication stress response, particularly in tumor cells after anticancer drug treatment with DNA topoisomerase 1 inhibitors. This work challenges long-established models of how DNA replication deals with genotoxic stress and provides a new rationale for the design of novel targeted inhibitors to sensitize cancer cells to much lower doses of the selected chemotherapeutic agent that are not toxic to normal cells.







Ray Kreienkamp honored at AOA Forum

Ray Kreienkamp, a second year medical student at SLU, won second prize in the 48th annual Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society student research forum held in January. The research for his presentation, entitled "Negative role of cathepsin-L in regulation of homologous recombination," was conducted in the laboratory of Susana Gonzalo, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of the Department of Biochemistry.

Ray competed against 40 total students during the initial poster presentation on January 10 and was one of six finalists selected to give an oral presentation on his work on January 30.

Vitamin D holds answer to treatment-resistant breast cancers

Susana Gonzalo, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Biochemistry, and her lab group have identified possible new diagnostic markers and treatments for breast cancers classified as "triple-negative." These cancers, which are difficult to treat and have a poor prognosis, tend to affect younger women who often have the BRCA1 mutation and are at an increased risk for breast and ovarian cancers.

Susana's group found a pathway that is activated in triple-negative breast cancers and responsible for unchecked tumor cell growth, making these tumors especially difficult to treat. This pathway is turned off by vitamin D, which could provide a new way to treat these cancers by helping traditional therapies to be more effective. They also identified three biomarkers that could help identify those patients who would most benefit from vitamin D treatment.

Susana's research was recently published in The Journal of Cell Biology. Her lab group worked in collaboration with the labs of Xavier Matias-Guiu and Adriana Duso at IRBLleida in Spain. The work was partially funded by a $500,000 Department of Defense grant. You can read the full story here.

Microgravity advances protein crystallization

Sergey Korolev, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Biochemistry, received a grant from the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) to advance crystallization of medically relevant proteins using microgravity. As part of this project, CASIS will assist Dr. Korolev in coordinating access to the International Space Station National Laboratory (ISS NL) for the purposes of using the microgravity environment and a counter-diffusion method to improve the crystal quality of two key proteins: human calcium-independent phospholipase PLA2g6 and prothrombin. Both proteins are essential players in the cardiovascular system and inflammatory cascades.

The microgravity environment will facilitate the solution of an atomic resolution structure and will help obtain better crystals, revealing the conformation of the proteins and allowing for analysis of the functional sites. These structural studies will permit development of new therapeutic approaches to treat multiple devastating diseases. Thrombin is one of the most important pharmacological targets in blood coagulation, while the PLA2g6 protein is a novel promising target for cardiovascular disease as well as for muscular dystrophy, Parkinson's disease, and diabetes.

The overall mission of CASIS is the advancement of educational and scientific research in connection with the ISS NL. Among CASIS's goals are efforts to fully utilize the ISS NL and enable technology that enhances utilization of the ISS NL by commercial interests, other government agencies, and educational entities.

Biochemistry faculty members are "Outstanding"

Dale Dorsett, Ph.D., Professor of Biochemistry and Ángel Baldán, Ph.D, Assistant Professor of Biochemistry, have been named Outstanding Scientists in 2013 by the Academy of Science of St. Louis. Dr. Dorsett will receive the Fellows Award and Dr. Baldán will receive the Innovation Award.

Dale has been called "the godfather of cohesinopathies." His discoveries have steered the course of understanding and potential therapy for this class of human genetic disorders. Dale's pioneering work has advanced knowledge in the fundamental mechanism of gene control during development. His research papers have been cited in thousands of publications, testifying to the impact of his discoveries on modern cell and molecular biology. The impact of his work truly extends from the bench to the clinic.

Ángel began his groundbreaking studies on atherosclerosis as a postdoctoral fellow at UCLA. He showed that mice lacking a protein called ABCG1 develop massive cholesterol deposition and lipid release in the lung, resembling life-threatening human respiratory distress syndrome. This has important implications for the clinical course of lung infections, asthma, allergies and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Since moving to St. Louis, Ángel discovered the gene for sterol regulatory element binding protein 2 (SREBP-2) contains within it a second gene for a key regulatory RNA, called miR-33. This finding uncovered an unexpected mechanism by which the cholesterol-lowering statin drugs work and showed that miR-33 regulates key bile transporters in the liver, significant for patients with certain mutations. These findings suggest novel therapeutic approaches to manage patients at risk for cardiovascular disease and provide new insight into statin therapy and improving the effectiveness and safety of cholesterol-lowering medication.

The Outstanding St. Louis Scientist Awards will be presented on April 24, 2013 in the Starlight Room of the Chase Park Plaza. For more information on the awardees, please see the story in Newslink.

Sly honored with MPS Society grant

The National Mucopolysaccharidosis (MPS) Society has established a 2013 Family Support Programs Grant in honor of Dr. William Sly. Faculty, staff, and students in the Department of Biochemistry made contributions totaling $8,920 to the MPS Society in Dr. Sly's name to recognize him for his outstanding scientific contributions, leadership and friendship on the occasion of his 80th birthday. Dr. Sly received a letter from the MPS Society informing him of the tribute.

The National MPS Society provides support to affected individuals and their families by supporting research, advocacy and awareness of these disorders. Dr. Sly's group described the first patient with MPS VII (Sly syndrome) and worked with collaborators at The Jackson Laboratory to characterize the mouse model of this disease. He is recognized as a leader in the MPS field.

Contract awarded to faculty business

Mediomics recently received a $995,251 contract from the National Institutes of Health to participate in the second phase of development of an automated analyzer. The company was founded by Yie-Hwa Chang, Ph.D., Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and specializes in the creation of testing kits for research and educational use. Another St. Louis company, Gallus Biopharmaceuticals, will also participate in the research.

The story was featured in the St. Louis Business Journal. You can read the full story here.

Sly Fellowship established

The Department of Biochemistry has established the William Sly Fellowship in the Biochemical Sciences in honor of Dr. Sly for his achievements and service to the department. The Fellowship will give full support to meritorious M.D./Ph.D. students who decide to join the Department of Biochemistry to complete the Ph.D. portion of their degree.

Students interested in applying for the Fellowship can contact Marie Reynolds at 977-9202 for more information.

Article in Grand Rounds features new faculty

Susana Gonzalo, Ph.D. and Frances Yap, Ph.D., Assistant Professors of Biochemistry, were featured in the "Poised for Discovery" section of the Fall 2012 issue of Grand Rounds magazine.

Grand Rounds magazine is published twice a year by SLU Medical Center Development and Alumni Relations. It highlights the latest research, news, grant awards, and alumni news in the School of Medicine. You can read the article here.






Grantwinner Awardees

Congratulations to Marie Reynolds, Senior Department Administrator for Biochemistry, who received the 2012 Excellence in Research Administration Award at the 36th annual Grantwinner Reception on September 14, 2012.

The Grantwinner Reception is held each year by the Division of Research Administration in order to recognize faculty and staff for outstanding contributions and excellence in research, innovation, and service. Deans and committee chairpersons are asked to nominate individuals for each award.








Biochemistry Faculty receive PRF grants

The results of the sixth round of the President's Research Fund were announced recently. Several Biochemistry faculty were among the recipients of these awards.

Congratulations to:

  • Joel Eissenberg, "Defining targets of RNA Polymerase II elongation complexes in development"
  • Jung Huang, "Mechanism by which CRSBP-1 ligands unbutton lymphatic intercellular junctions"
  • Sergey Korolev, "Structure-functional studies of recombination mediator proteins"
  • Frances Yap, "Mechanistic basis for antibiotic-induced resistance"

The President's Research Fund is in its third year of funding projects that have a strong potential for obtaining external funding for SLU investigators. The funds are used to collect preliminary data for a new or related project, and also support cross-disciplinary projects to maximize collaborations across departments and schools at SLU. Applications are generally accepted twice a year, in May and October. For more information, see the Internal Awards website.

SLS Youth Orchestra members announced

Congratulations to Eric Cho, son of Yoonsang Cho, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Biochemistry, who was chosen as one of the cellists in the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra. The results of the final auditions were announced on August 23, 2012 (SLS YO Results).

The SLS Youth Orchestra is made up of about 100 musicians ranging in age from 12-22 years. Members of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra act as coaches for the Youth Orchestra members. The Youth Orchestra usually plays three concerts per year in Powell Hall, the home of the SLSO. Find out more about the orchestra and view their concert schedule here: SLS Youth Orchestra.

Article highlights Rezaie lab research

Alireza Rezaie, Ph.D., Professor of Biochemistry, was featured in The St. Louis Post-Dispatch on August 23 for his continuing research on antithrombin and Protein C. Ray's research focuses on two areas of the blood clot cascade. His lab's newest line of research investigates the role of antithrombin in blood vessel wall inflammation. This important work could lead to improved treatments for patients of strokes, heart attacks and embolisms. His previous work, for which he was awarded an NIH grant in 2010, aims to prevent organ failure in sepsis patients by increasing the clotting activity of activated Protein C.

Ray's research was recently awarded a four-year grant from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute for the antithrombin studies.

Enrico Di Cera receives U54 subcontract

Enrico Di Cera, M.D., Alice A. Doisy Professor and Chairman of Biochemistry, has been awarded a five-year subcontract as part of a U54 Translational Research Centers in Thrombotic and Hemostatic Disorders (TRC-THD) Specialized Center grant headed by Evan Sadler, Ph.D., at Washington University. The application, which consists of 5 projects and 4 Core Units, was awarded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute at the National Institutes of Health.

The overall goal of the grant is to improve the health and survival of thrombosis patients by initiating collaborations between basic scientists and clinicians to develop new treatments for thrombosis. Dr. Di Cera's project entitled "Engineering thrombin for exclusive activity toward Protein C" has two parts: 1) elucidation of the molecular mechanism of action of existing anticoagulant thrombin mutants; and, 2) conversion of thrombin into an exclusive activator or protein C.

Enrico Di Cera receives NIH Grant

Enrico Di Cera, M.D., Alice A. Doisy Professor and Chairman of Biochemistry, has been awarded a four-year grant entitled "Studies on the anticoagulant properties of thrombin" from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute at the National Institutes of Health.

This grant will continue his studies aimed at understanding how thrombin functions as an anticoagulant. The knowledge gained could be used to engineer a new class of anticoagulants that can treat cardiovascular disease and it thrombotic complications.

New faculty member joins the department

We are pleased to announce that Yoonsang Cho, Ph.D., is joining the Department as Assistant Professor, effective July 2012. Dr. Cho was formerly an Associate Research Scientist in the Department of Pharmacology at Yale University School of Medicine.

Yoonsang is an established investigator studying the structural and chemical biology of ligands and receptors in inflammation and cancer. Immune cells interact indirectly with other cells via small protein ligands, such as cytokines and growth factors, but the mechanisms behind these interactions is not well understood. His research aims to unlock the molecular details of the ligand-receptor interactions in the hope that these molecules might be used as models to develop new therapies for cancer and inflammatory diseases.

Baldán lab helps improve treatment for heart disease

Ángel Baldán, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Biochemistry, was featured in Newslink in July for his continuing research on the microRNA, miR-33. Their most recent research focuses on the way that miR-33, which is induced by statins, can decrease bile production in the gallbladder, affecting the digestion of dietary lipids, which causes cholestasis and can lead to liver damage. Treatment with anti-miR-33 reversed the toxic side effects of statins in an animal model.

These important findings could lead to better statins to help control cholesterol levels, by reducing the liver damage that can be a side effect of these drugs. Their research could also help treat some genetic disorders that cause a similar defect in bile transporters and ultimately lead to liver damage through cholestasis.

Dr. Baldán's research was recently published in EMBO Molecular Medicine.

Frances Yap named 2012 Pew Scholar

Frances Yap, Ph.D., Assistant Professor in the Department of Biochemistry, was named one of 22 Pew Scholars in Biomedical Science for 2012. The Pew Scholars program provides funding to young, outstanding investigators whose research is aimed at increasing human health.

Each of 180 participating institutions is invited to nominate one individual each year for this prestigious award. Dr. Yap's research areas focus on misregulated translation in ribosomes and antibiotic resistance in E. coli.

The announcement of the 2012 awardees was made on June 14. Please see the full story on the Pew Scholars website for further details. You can also read about Frances' award in Newslink and in the St. Louis Business Journal.

Alireza Rezaie receives NIH Grant

Alireza Reazie, Ph.D., Professor of Biochemistry, has been awarded a four-year grant from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute at the National Institutes of Health. Ray's research on the anti-inflammatory properties of antithrombin could lead to treatments that would help prevent heart disease by blocking inflammation in the wall of the blood vessel.

For the complete story, please see the article in Newslink.

Amanda Koenig Awarded AHA Predoctoral Fellowship

Amanda is currently a Biochemistry Graduate Student in the Dorsett lab. She received the Midwest Affiliate Winter 2012 award from the AHA for her project entitled "Regulation of Gene Transcription by Cohesin".

Fei Shao Awarded ASBMB Travel Award

Fei is a graduate student in the Ford lab. She received a travel award to present her studies on the regulation of macrophage cholesterol homeostasis by trans fatty acids at the EB 2012 scientific meeting, which was held in San Diego, CA in April.

Jack Lally Awarded AHA Summer Undergraduate Fellowship

Jack is currently a junior undergraduate student at Notre Dame. He has received an award from the AHA for his studies on the interaction between chlorinated lipids and cholesterol that will be performed in the Ford lab during the summer of 2012.

Biochemistry Department welcomes a new faculty member

We are pleased to announce that Susana Gonzalo, Ph.D., is joining the Department as Assistant Professor, effective April 2012. Dr. Gonzalo is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Radiation Oncology at Washington University School of Medicine.

Susana is an established investigator studying the causes of genomic instability in aging and cancer. Her research focuses on understanding how alterations in nuclear structural proteins and chromatin structure impact DNA repair and telomere biology. Identification of novel molecular pathways contributing to genomic instability can eventually be used as therapeutic targets for the treatment of disease.



Collaboration is good news for patients of rare disease

William Sly, M.D., Professor in the Department of Biochemistry, will collaborate with Ultragenyx Pharmaceutical Inc. on the development of enzyme replacement therapy (ERT) for Mucopolysaccharidosis (MPS) Type VII patients. MPS VII is an extremely rare genetic metabolic disease, which was first discovered by Dr. Sly in 1973 and is also known as Sly Syndrome. Although ERT is available for many other MPS diseases, no enzyme therapy has yet been developed for MPS VII due to the small number of patients.

Ultragenyx has in-licensed the enzyme treatment developed by Dr. Sly's research group in the hopes it can be made available to MPS VII patients. Please see the press release from Ultragenyx for more information: Ultragenyx Press Release.

William Sly to receive AAMC Award

William Sly, M.D., Professor in the Department of Biochemistry, has been chosen to receive the 2011 Association of American Medical Colleges' Award for Distinguished Research in Biomedical Sciences. The Award recognizes outstanding clinical or laboratory research conducted by a member of an AAMC member medical school. Dr. Sly was nominated for the award by Dr. Philip Alderson.

Dr. Sly will receive his award at a special black tie event on Saturday, November 5 in Denver, CO, during the AAMC Annual Meeting. For more information, please see the story in Newslink.

Dr. Sly was also featured in a story in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on December 2, 2011, which details his work and the award. You can read the story here: Post-Dispatch, Dec 2011.

Pictures from the 2011 Biochemistry Retreat

The annual Biochemistry Retreat was held October 14-15, 2011 in New Haven, MO at the Cedar Creek Conference Center. On Friday afternoon, faculty had the opportunity to give a brief talk on their recent research. Each lab was also able to present a poster at the informal poster session that evening. Attendees had time for fun and games by participating in various sports and recreation activities as well as gathering to watch the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Milwaukee Brewers in the fourth game of the National League Championship Series!

The retreat concluded on Saturday afternoon following several more faculty presentations.

Biochemistry Retreat 2011
Maureen Donlin, Ph.D., elected editor

Maureen Donlin, Ph.D., an Associate Research Professor in the Department of Biochemistry, has been nominated as an Academic Editor for PLoS ONE. PLoS ONE is an open-access, peer-reviewed scientific and medical research journal. Academic Editors participate in the peer-review process and make decisions on which manuscripts should be published in the journal. They also help set editorial policies for the journal.

Biochemistry Graduate Student receives award

Congratulations to Ryan Allen, M.S., graduate student in the Department of Biochemistry, who received a Junior Scientist Travel Award from the Gordon Research Conference. Ryan won the award as a result of the poster he presented at the 2011 Molecular and Cellular Biology of Lipids Gordon Conference. The Conference took place from July 17-22, 2011 in Waterville Valley, NH.

Ryan entered the graduate program in 2009 and is doing his thesis research in Dr. Ángel Baldán's lab.

Biochemistry Department welcomes a new faculty member

We are pleased to announce that Mee-Ngan (Frances) Yap, Ph.D., is joining the Department as Assistant Professor, effective September 2011. Dr. Yap is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow at the NIDDK-NIH in Bethesda, MD.

Frances is an established investigator studying the functional consequences of arrested translation and its effect on controlling gene expression and protein biogenesis. She also studies the selectivity and resistance properties of antibiotics that target the ribosome tunnel in order to develop more effective antimicrobial drugs.




Faculty member honored at celebratory dinner

William Sly, M.D., Professor in the Department of Biochemistry, was honored at a dinner hosted by the department on May 24, 2011. The dinner celebrated Dr. Sly's leadership during his 26 years as Chairman of the department and also highlighted his accomplishments during his many years at Saint Louis University.

Current and past faculty and staff members attended the celebration dinner, which took place at the Missouri Botanical Gardens. The faculty presented Dr. Sly with the portrait pictured at right, which was painted by Ted Wood. He also received a photo memory book detailing his career and departmental highlights.

Sly Honorary Dinner
Biochemistry M.D./Ph.D. student receives award

Wei-Hsien "Tommy" Hou, Ph.D., has been awarded the National Cancer Institute R12 Trainee/Donald L. Morton Cancer Research Trainee Award. He will receive his award and present his current research at the 4th International Symposium on Cancer Metastasis and the Lymphovascular System: Basis for Rational Therapy in New York, NY on May 13, 2011.

Dr. Hou was a graduate student in Dr. Jung-San Huang's lab in the Department of Biochemistry and received his Ph.D. in 2009. Their research was recently featured in Newslink and was reported in the April 15 issue of the Journal of Cell Science. The paper describes a molecule, CRSBP-1, that could block metastasis by preventing cancer cells from entering the lymphatic system. Their discovery will have a strong impact on the field of cancer research and could lead to new ways to prevent the spread of cancer.

Tommy is currently a medical student at Saint Louis University and will receive his M.D. degree next year.

Àngel Baldán featured in Grand Rounds

Ángel Baldán, Ph.D., Assistant Professor in the Department of Biochemistry, was featured in the Spring 2011 edition of Grand Rounds magazine, which is published biannually by SLU Medical Center Development and Alumni Relations.

Dr. Baldán was featured in a story highlighting the outstanding accomplishments of new junior faculty at the School of Medicine. His story can be found on pages 16-17.

William Sly to receive Distinguished Teaching Award

William Sly, M.D., Professor in the Department of Biochemistry, has been chosen to receive the 2011 School of Medicine Distinguished Teaching Award for small group facilitation. Awardees in the various categories are chosen by the School of Medicine student body.

Dr. Sly will receive his award in a ceremony on Monday, April 25 at 12:00 p.m. The ceremony will take place in LRC 112/113 and light refreshments will be served following the awards presentation. For more information, please see the story in Newslink.

Biochemistry Department welcomes two new faculty members

We are pleased to announce that Alessandro Vindigni, Ph.D., is joining the Department as Associate Professor, effective May 2011. Dr. Vindigni is currently Group Leader of Genome Stability at the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology in Trieste, Italy. He is a well established investigator in the areas of DNA repair and genome stability and has made seminal contributions to the structure, function and regulation of RecQ helicases, a ubiquitous family of DNA strand separating enzymes that defends the genome against instability associated with many inheritable human diseases and cancer.

Dr. Vindigni's wife, Youhna Ayala, Ph.D., is also joining the Department as Assistant Research Professor. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow in the group of Prof. Francisco Baralle at the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology in Trieste, Italy. Her research focuses on the RNA binding factor, TDP-43, a protein involved in a number of neurodegenerative pathologies.

Audrey Watson receives award

Audrey Watson, Senior Research Assistant in the Department of Biochemistry, received the "Hildred L.C. London Memorial Award" at the 51st Annual Mathews-Dickey Boys' & Girls' Club Awards ceremony on February 12, 2011. The award is one of the prestigious Memorial Awards given for unselfish and dedicated service to the Youth of the St. Louis Community.

Audrey received her award during the black-tie celebration at the Sheraton Westport Chalet. The theme of the evening was "Making the Best Better." The Mathews-Dickey Boys' & Girls' Club is a non-profit organization founded in 1960 by Martin Luther Mathews and the late Hubert "Dickey" Ballentine. The Club serves more than 40,000 young men and women, ages 5-18, and is an outreach resource center for troubled youth. For more information and details on the event, please see the Club's website: Mathews-Dickey Club.

Eric Appelbaum honored at AOA Forum

Eric Appelbaum, a second year medical student at SLU, won second prize in the 46th annual Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society medical student research forum held in January. The research for his presentation, entitled "Functional studies of thrombin mutant G219P," was conducted in the laboratory of Enrico Di Cera, M.D., Professor and Chairman of the Department of Biochemistry.

Eric competed against 35 total students during the initial poster presentation on January 12 and was one of six finalists selected to give an oral presentation on his work on January 26. For more information on the forum, please see the story in Newslink.

Pictures from the Biochemistry Retreat

The annual Biochemistry Retreat was held October 15-16, 2010 in New Haven, MO at the Cedar Creek Conference Center. On Friday afternoon, faculty had the opportunity to give a brief talk on their recent research. Each lab was also able to present a poster at the informal poster session that evening. Attendees had time for fun and games by participating in various sports and recreation activities as well as gathering around the bonfire on Friday evening.

The retreat concluded on Saturday afternoon following several more faculty presentations.

Biochemistry Retreat 2010
Baldán lab discovery could improve treatment for heart disease

Ángel Baldán, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Biochemistry, was featured in Newslink in October for his recent research on cholesterol and the microRNA, miR-33, which may control HDL levels in the blood. These important findings could lead to better drugs to control cholesterol levels and help reduce the incidence of atherosclerosis.

Dr. Baldán's research was recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Dale Dorsett on CdLS

Dale Dorsett, Ph.D., Professor of Biochemistry, was featured in Reaching Out, the quarterly publication of the Cornelia de Lange Syndrome Foundation. In the article, Dr. Dorsett reviewed the progress of research on CdLS and highlighted the findings presented at the Fourth CdLS Foundation Scientific Symposium held in Dallas, TX in June.

For more information CdLS, please visit the Cornelia de Lange Syndrome Foundation website. Dr. Dorsett's article can be found on pages 3 and 6 of the Summer issue of Reaching Out.