Spring 2013

What’s in a Name?

K-State Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics, The Active SiteThe Department underwent some changes this fall. First and foremost, we welcomed our new Department Head, Phillip E. Klebba, who joined us from Oklahoma. We also began a faculty search and revamped our undergraduate curriculum. Most public change: our new name.

Many professors in the department have diverged into biophysical science in their research. Grad Chair Michal Zolkiewski noted that while the name is new, the research is not. Zolkiewski, a biophysicist himself, described the discipline as “using physical principles to understand how different molecules participate in life processes.” When added to biochemistry, this offers a more complete view of these processes.  Zolkiewski continued, “Biophysics brings new approaches that aren’t available in more traditional biochemistry, it will open opportunities for new collaborations and projects, and potentially some new funding.” Continue reading

Battling bacteria: Research shows iron’s importance in infection, suggests new therapies

A K-State research team has resolved a 40-year-old debate on the role of iron acquisition in bacterial invasion of animal tissues.

The collaborative research – led by Phillip Klebba, professor and head of BMB – clarifies how microorganisms colonize animal hosts and how scientists may block them from doing so. The findings suggest new approaches against bacterial disease and new strategies for antibiotic development.

The study – in collaboration with Tyrrell Conway, director of the Microarray and Bioinformatics Core Facilities at OU, and Salete M. Newton, K-State BMB research professor – recently appeared in PLOS ONE. It shows how iron acquisition affects the ability of bacteria to colonize animals, which is the first stage of microbial disease.Ferric Enterobactin, 716 Da, Net charge -3

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Where do Graduate Students Come From?

Check out this subject using a search engine. You’ll find that the fraction of PhDs in sciences coming from small liberal arts colleges far exceeds what would be expected based on the numbers of students enrolled there. A big reason is because at those places, undergraduates routinely get to do lab research. Once in the lab, they often get bitten by the research bug, and experience success in making discoveries.

K-State works hard at getting undergraduates into research labs. At minimum, every Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics major has to do a research problem. Many, however, will greatly surpass this minimum before they graduate. Michael Kanost’s research group includes three excellent examples of undergraduate researchers, all supported in part by grants from national agencies. Continue reading

BMB Graduate Student Awards

Adriana Avila Flores (Tomich) and Yue Qi (Zolkiewska) each received a 2011-2012 Excellence in Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics Graduate Teaching Award.

Xiangming Li (Wangemann) received the 2011-2012 Excellence in Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics Graduate Research Award.

Flores, Qi, and Li will have their names engraved on the respective Graduate Award plaques displayed in the Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics office in Chalmers Hall.

1st Place Poster Presentation

Sara Duhachek Muggy (Zolkiewska) won first place for her poster presentation, “An essential role of metalloprotease-disintegrin ADAM12 in triple-negative breast cancer,” during the 2012 University of Kansas Cancer Center Research Symposium held at KUMC on November 8, 2012.Collaborating with Duhachek-Muggy included fellow graduate students Hui Li and Yue Qi, and faculty member Anna Zolkiewska.