Spotlight Archives

New Research Discoveries…Mutant G Proteins and Disease

G proteinsCongratulations to Arthur Marivin, Anthony Leyme and colleagues in the Garcia-Marcos lab who have reported a new mechanism of action for disease-associated G protein mutants in their recent Science Signaling publication and highlighted in a Podcast. They found that a rare hereditary disease is caused by G protein mutants that act as dominant negative proteins that block endothelin GPCR signaling during embryo development. This is the first example of a human disease caused by G protein mutants that arises from a dominant negative function. For more info on the Garcia-Marcos laboratory please visit: Garcia-Marcos lab.

New Research Discoveries…Chaperone that disaggregates proteins

chaperoneCongratulations to the Sherman Lab for their recent publication in EMBO J. Nava Zaarur, a postdoctoral associate, and collaborators found RuvbL1 and RuvbL2 enhance aggresome formation in mammalian cells and disaggregate amyloid fibrils. For more information on their research please visit: Sherman lab.

New Research Discoveries…P2X7 and Corneal Epithelial Injury

P2X7Congratulations to the Trinkaus-Randall Lab for their recent publication in Am J Pathol. Martin Minns, a recent PhD graduate in the Trinkaus-Randall lab, found that P2X7, a purinergic ion channel, is an important mediator of the corneal epithelial injury response, both immediately after injury and during cell migration. For more information on their research please visit: Trinkaus-Randall lab.


New Research Discoveries…Crb3 and Airway Cell Differentiation

Crb3Congratulations to the Varelas Lab for their recent publication in Developmental Cell. Aleks Szymaniak, a PhD candidate in the Varelas lab, found that the apical polarity determinant Crb3 is an essential regulator of airway cell maturation and that Crb3 scaffolds Hippo pathway components at the apical domain of epithelial cells to restrict the nuclear activity of the transcriptional regulator Yap, and showed that loss of Crb3 results in aberrant airway cell maturation. For more information on their research please visit: Varelas lab.


Spotlight on…Dr. Dafne Cardamone

Congratulations to Dr. Dafne Cardamone for her recent promotion to the rank of Instructor. Dr. Cardamone joined Dr. Perissi’s lab and the Biochemistry Department in 2011. Dafne received a PhD in Complex Systems in Molecular Biology from the University of Torino (Italy) and previously worked as a postdoctoral fellow in the Rosenfeld lab at UCSD. In Dr. Perissi’s lab, Dafne is investigating a small transcriptional cofactor, G Protein Suppressor 2 (GPS2) in adipocytes and immune cells. Her studies have revealed interesting insights into the role of GPS2 in regulating inflammation and lipid metabolism via modulating ubiquitin signaling (Cardamone et al, Mol Cell 2012; Cardamone et al, Cell Reports 2014).
For past Spotlights:Archives

New Research Discoveries…Beige Adipocyte Differentiation

GprotCongratulations to the Farmer, Layne, and Smith laboratories for their recent publication in Cell investigating the mechanisms of beige adipocyte differentiation. Meghan McDonald and Chendi Li from the Farmer lab are co-first authors. This study found that BMPs induce brown adipogenesis from mesenchymal stem cells by inhibiting ROCK activity. Furthermore this study found that loss of the SRF cofactor MRTFA promoted browning and resistance to diet induced obesity. For more information on their current research please visit: Farmer lab. Layne lab.


Spotlight on…Graduation 2015

Congratulations to our students who recently or will soon graduate. Receiving a PhD in Biochemistry: Hejiao Bian, Yuhuan Ji, Chendi Li, Yanyan Lu, Martin Minns. Receiving a MA in Biochemistry: Lisa Brennan, Mark Lohsen.


Spotlight on…Russek Day 2015

The 21st Annual Henry I Russek Student Achievement Day will be on May 1st. The keynote lecture will be by Dr. David M. Livingston who will discuss “How does BRCA1 suppress the development of breast and ovarian cancer”. The day will also have a student poster session and student Russek winner talks.
For more Information: Russek Day 2015        


Spotlight on…Earth Day 2015

Join us on the Talbot Green from 11 a.m-2:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 16 for our annual Earth Day festival! Come learn more about sustainability@BU and sign up to Join the Challenge and get a free travel mug. Learn about the health and environmental benefits of sustainable transportation. Recycle toner cartridges and learn about the “We Bagged the Box” program. Put your clothes to work, help BU, the environment, and the entire community by cleaning out your closets and donating old work clothes to Goodwill. Cheer on Team BMC before they run the 2015 Boston Marathon at a pep rally. For more Information: BUMC Earth Day 2015        


Spotlight on…BUMC Art Days—March 30 & 31

All students, faculty and staff at the Boston University Medical Campus are encouraged to submit artwork of any medium to the 25th annual “Art Days”, founded by former BUSM Dean Aram Chobanian to foster the support and growth of the creative arts at BUMC. The exhibition is mounted by the Creative Arts Society.

Spotlight on Research…G proteins and disease

GprotCongratulations to the Garcia-Marcos lab for their recent publication investigating the molecular basis for disease-linked mutations in G proteins. Heterotrimeric G proteins are molecular switches that control signal transduction. Many mutations in G proteins have been shown to cause human diseases. But not all these mutations are made equal. They found that two identical mutations can cause different diseases even if present in highly similar G proteins. By dissecting the biochemical properties of the different mutants, they elucidated the basis of how an identical mutation can make one G protein hyperactive in cancer and the second G protein inactive in rare inherited disease. For more information on their research and publications please visit their lab page: Garcia-Marcos lab.

Spotlight on Research…Neurodegenerative disease

misfold140The Harris and Abraham laboratory’s research findings on Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases were recently highlighted in an article in the Boston University Medicine Spring magazine misfold.

For more information on their research and publications please visit their lab pages: Harris lab. Abraham lab.




Spotlight on…Faculty Recuitment

As part of an ongoing expansion program, the Department of Biochemistry at the Boston University School of Medicine invites applications for new faculty positions at the level of Assistant or Associate Professor. We seek creative scientists using cutting-edge technologies and experimental systems to address the cellular and molecular mechanisms of biological processes, particularly those that relate broadly to human disease.
For more Information: Faculty positions        For past Spotlights:Archives


Spotlight on…Undergraduate Researchers

Congratulations to the undergraduate students in our Department who were given awards through the BU Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program. Kshitij (Kay) Sharma is working in the Garcia-Marcos lab, Holly Johnson is in the Perrissi lab, Chris Bishop is working in the Schreiber lab and Joanna (Tze Yu) Tung (not pictured) is working in the Abraham lab.UROP.


Spotlight on…Graduation 2014

Congratulations to our students who recently or will soon graduate. Receiving a PhD in Biochemistry: Brian Fluharty, Dana Pena, Yu Huang, Kathleen Tumelty. Receiving a MA in Biochemistry: Yang Liu. More info on graduation ceremonies:


Spotlight on Research…Varelas Lab

HippoCongratulations to the Varelas lab for their recent publication identifying the Hippo pathway as a critical mediator of microRNA (miRNA) biogenesis. MicroRNAs are small double stranded RNA regulators of gene expression that are implicated in most aspects of human development and disease. Deregulation of Hippo pathway signals leads to defects in the maturation of precursor miRNAs into mature and functional miRNAs. Their study provides unexpected insight into the roles of Hippo pathway signaling, providing an important new mechanism for how miRNAs are controlled. Additional information on the Varelas lab, its research, and these publications can be found here: Varelas lab.


The 20th Annual Henry I. Russek Day will be held on Friday May 2nd in Heibert. To highlight the new BRAIN initiative the Keynote address will be given by HHMI investigator Dr. David Ginty who will be speaking on “The Sensory Neurons of Touch”. From Biochemistry, Kathleen Tumelty won first prize and Samantha Hiemer won second prize. More information here: Russek Day 2014.For past Spotlights: Archives


Spotlight on…BUMC Earth Day 2014

BUMC Earth Day is Thursday April 17th on Talbot Green. Bring your clothes for Goodwill, Styrofoam, Toner, and learn about laboratory recycling. More information here: BUMC Earth Day.


Spotlight on…Franzblau Travel Award Competition

Congratulations to Chun Shao, Madelane Teran, Martin Minns, and Larry Pessolano, who were winners of the 2014 Carl and Myrna Franzblau Travel Award. This award provides support for these students to travel to a scientific meeting and present their research.


Spotlight on…Chendi Li wins BNORC poster competition

Congratulations to Chendi Li, a student in Dr. Stephen Farmer’s laboratory who won first prize in the Boston Nutrition Obesity Research Center annual symposium. Chendi’s work defined a role for Myocardin-Related Transcription Factors in the regulation of beige adipocytes in white adipose tissue. For past Spotlights: Archives

Spotlight on Research…Kandror Lab

Fat CellCongratulations to the Kandror lab for their series of recent publications examining the regulation of adipose cell function. The first paper found that insulin induces the transcription factor Egr1 which suppresses transcription of the rate-limiting lipolytic enzyme, adipose triglyceride lipase. This evolutionarily conserved pathway represents a novel mechanism of insulin action on lipolysis. The second study identified a novel function for sortilin as a “proactive” component of insulin responsive vesicles. Additional information on the Kandror lab, its research, and these publications can be found here: Kandror lab.


Spotlight on…Dr. Harris Receives Alzheimer’s Disease Grant

Congratulations to Dr. David Harris who recently received a Massachusetts Neuroscience Consortium (MNC) Award. The Harris research lab is developing a novel therapy for Alzheimer’s disease based on targeting a newly recognized molecular pathway responsible for neurodegeneration. More info on the award: Grant. For past Spotlights: Archives

Awards to Faculty…

Cathy CostelloCongratulations to Catherine E. Costello for her appointment as a William Fairfield Warren Distinguished Professor, which was just announced by President Brown! This is major university honor, recognizing Cathy’s superlative scientific accomplishments and scholarly contributions. This is the first time the professorship has been awarded to a faculty member whose primary appointment is at the medical school. Additional information Professorship.

VickeryCongratulations to Dr. Vickery Trinkaus-Randall who was recognized with the GMS Faculty Recognition Award for her years of tireless efforts on behalf on all of the students of GMS.  Dr. Trinkaus-Randall has served as the Director of Graduate Studies for the CMB Program, taking each student under her wing from the date of matriculation to the day of graduation.  In addition, Dr. Trinkaus-Randall has been instrumental in creating the Foundations in Biomedical Sciences curriculum and one of the newest GMS initiatives, the Program in Biomedical Sciences.


Spotlight on…Graduation 2013

Congratulations to our students who graduated in May. Receiving a PhD in Biochemistry: Shannon Carroll, Edward Randles, Xiang Yu, Meghan Mcdonald, Ying Zhou. Receiving an MD-PhD: Kevin Anderson. Receiving a MA in Biochemistry: Katie Wu, Hank Kells. More info on graduation: Commencement. For past Spotlights: Archives

Awards to Faculty…

Nugent-awardThe Committee on Faculty Affairs (CFA) established the Educator of the Year Awards to recognize, honor and reward BUSM faculty who give special effort to ensure the best education for BUSM students. The recipients are characterized by their excellence in teaching, mentoring and/or devotion to students.

This year Matthew Nugent, Ph.D. was unanimously selected as the 2013 CFA Educator of the Year in the Graduate Medical Sciences.

In addition, Karen Symes, PhD was also among the faculty honored by student nominations as a “special educator”.

Russek 2013

Spotlight on…Russek Day 2013

The 19th Annual Henry I. Russek Student Achievement Day will be on Friday May 10th from 8:30a to 5pm in Hiebert Lounge. From the Department of Biochemistry, Shannon Carroll won first prize and Kathleen Tumelty won second prize. Terri Colvin won first prize from Molecular Medicine and Tracey Tucker in Pharmacology won honorable mention.

Spotlight on…Thematic Seminar Series 2013

Seminars 2013

The Spring Thematic Seminar Series continues on May 2nd with Dr. M. Geoffrey Rosenfeld on the topic “Non-coding RNA in health and disease”. Seminars are at 3:00 pm in Keefer Auditorium followed by a reception. We look forward to seeing you at this exciting seminar series.  For past Spotlights: Archives

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Biochemistry Food Drive

The Biochemistry Department is collecting food for the BMC grow clinic. Please bring your donation to K225 by December 20th. To ensure that we provide the most needed items, see this list of preferred donations. Grow Clinic Needs



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Fall 2012 Thematic Seminar Series

The Biochemistry Department and the Evans Center are hosting a series of seminars focusing on “The Cytoskeleton in Health and Disease”. The third seminar will be given by Don W. Cleveland, PhD on December 6th at 3pm in Keefer auditorium (E111). The seminar will be followed by a reception. Fall 2012 Thematic Flyer Cleveland




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Fall 2012 Thematic Seminar Series

The Biochemistry Department and the Evans Center are hosting a series of seminars focusing on “The Cytoskeleton in Health and Disease”. The second seminar will be given by Lawrence Goldstein, PhD on November 15th at 3pm in Keefer auditorium (E111). The seminar will be followed by a reception. Fall 2012 Thematic Flyer Goldstein




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Biochemistry Retreat 2012

The Biochemistry Department recently returned from a 2 day research retreat at the Wachusett Village Inn. Details of the retreat are here along with winners of the Best Poster competition. Retreat 2012


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Valentina Perissi named recipient of Peter Paul Professorship

Dr. Valentina Perissi receives one of the prestigious 2012 Peter Paul Professorships. Details of the award are here. Peter Paul



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Dr. Nugent Receives American Health Assistance Foundation Grant


Matthew Nugent, PhD, professor of biochemistry, ophthalmology and biomedical engineering, has been awarded a 2 year grant from the American Health Assistance Foundation (AHAF) to study macular degeneration.





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Welcome Dr. Brigitte Ritter


The Department of Biochemistry would like to welcome our newest faculty member Dr. Brigitte Ritter. Dr. Ritter comes to us from McGill University. The Ritter laboratory’s research focuses on the role of receptor trafficking in health and disease. Please stop by Brigitte’s office and lab on K1 and introduce yourself.



2012 Graduates


The Department of Biochemistry would like to congratulate all our recent graduates who will be receiving their degrees on May 18th and May 19th. Receiving PhD degrees in Biochemistry: Erika Angle Ebbel, Johann Bergholz, Michael Breen, Jennifer Fitch, Amanuel Kehasse, Juyoun Kim, Larry Luchsinger, Le Meng, Nadezda Sargaeva, and Erica Walsh. Receiving a MD-PhD Degree: Nathan Wigner. Receiving a MA in Biochemistry: Robert Shine and Joseph Ferrari. Congratulations to our graduates and we offer them just one word of advice: “Plastics”.

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Dr. Valetina Perissi named Grunebaum Faculty Fellow

perissi“Congratulations to Dr. Valentina Perissi who was recently named a Grunebaum Faculty Fellow. The Grunebaum Faculty Research Fellowship, a BUSM annual faculty award, provides $36,000 in direct costs to a selected faculty member for a period of one year.



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Congratulations to Dr. Dafne Cardamone for her recent publication


“Congratulations to Dafne Cardamone and the Perissi lab for their recent publication in Molecular Cell which was selected for the cover! The cover image Dafne designed with the help of Philip F. O’Brien depicts the “two faces of GPS2,” as a transcriptional cofactor in the nucleus and an inhibitor of TNFR signaling in the cytoplasm, by referring to the mythical figures of the twin brothers Castor and Pollux, who divided their lives between the Hades, as mortals, and the Olympus, as immortals.”

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Celeste Rich named as a 2012 Perkins Award Winner for Distinguished Service



We want to share the good news that our own Celeste Rich has been awarded a 2012 Perkins Distinguished Service Award. These awards are presented annually by the Faculty Council to three members of the Boston University family in recognition of distinguished service to the University. Celeste was recognized for her outstanding contributions to the research mission of our Department and the University at large. Celeste will receive her award and be recognized at an upcoming BU Celebration. The ceremony and reception will be on Tuesday, May 1 at 5:00 p.m. in the Trustee Ballroom, 1 Silber Way, 9th floor. All members of the Department are invited to attend and join in the celebration!


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mito The Mitochondria: Engines of Life, Drivers of Disease

Our Spring seminar series is jointly sponsored by The Department of Biochemistry & The Evans Center. Our speakers are David G. Nicholls, Doug C. Wallace, & Richard J. Youle. Seminars will be on March 27th, April 3, and April 10 at 3pm in Keefer Auditorium. Please join us after the seminars at a reception.


Spotlight on…Student Awards 2012

congrats The Department of Biochemistry is pleased to announce the winners of the 2012 Myrna and Carl Franzblau Student Travel Award: Brian Fluharty, Amanuel Kehasse, Albert Lee, Kathleen Tumelty, & Meghan Zuidema. These awards are made possible by the generosity of Dr. and Mrs. Franzblau and provide funds for these students to present their research at scientific conferences.

We are also pleased to announce the names of the first Biochemistry Graduate Student Fellows, funded by a generous endowment gift to the Department from the family of a BUSM alumnus. The fellowships are awarded to Larry Pessolano and Kathleen Tumelty!


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Bob Varelas Receives MOD Grant

Congratulations to Dr. Bob Varelas for receiving a Basil O’Connor Award from the March of Dimes for his project “Defining Cell Polarity Cues That Direct Hippo Signaling To Influence Ciliogenesis”. Congratulations Dr. Varelas!


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Message from the Chair

Dr. David Harris’ annual message to the Department featuring updates on Faculty Recruitment, Laboratory Renovations, and additional Departmental Initiatives. Chair’s Message

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cakeBiochemistry Recruitment Day

The Department of Biochemistry will be holding its annual graduate student recruitment events on February 12-13th. Additional information on the event has been emailed to prospective graduate students. We look forward to meeting you.


Department of Biochemistry Receives Endowment Gift

We are pleased to announce that the Department of Biochemistry recently received a generous endowment gift from the family of a BUSM alumnus. We are extremely grateful for this donation, which will be used to support new departmental initiatives with a direct impact on our students and faculty. This year, the gift will allow us to establish a fellowship program that will provide stipend support to two of our Biochemistry graduate students. Instructions for applying for this award can be found here:Fellowship The deadline for applications is February 20, 2012.

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Welcome Dr. Garcia-Marcos

The Department of Biochemistry welcomes our newest faculty member Dr. Mikel Garcia-Marcos. He comes to us from the Farquhar lab at UCSD and will be establishing his lab on K2. Please stop by and introduce yourself to Mikel.

Dr. Barbara Smith Awarded Scleroderma Research Grant

Barbara Smith Congratulations to Dr. Barbara Smith who was recently awarded one of eight research grants for 2012 from The Scleroderma Foundation. Her project will investigate the mechanisms of “Collagen regulation in systemic sclerosis”. Please see this page for additional details


Joint Thematic Seminar Series: Protein Quality Control and Disease

Cuervo Please join the Department of Biochemistry and the Evan’s Center for Dr. Ana Maria Cuervo’s seminar “Selective Autophagy: Quality Control with a Twist”. The lecture will be on December 15th and held from 3:00-4:00 pm in Keefer Auditorium followed by a reception. Additional information here: Seminar




Joint Thematic Seminar Series: Protein Quality Control and Disease

Please join the Department of Biochemistry and the Evan’s Center for Dr. Randal J. Kaufman’s seminar “ER Stress and oxidative stress synergize to cause cell death”. The lecture will be
held from 3:00-4:00 pm in Keefer Auditorium followed by a reception. Additional information here: Seminar


January 2011


Welcome, Dr. Perissi!

The Department of Biochemistry is pleased to announce that Valentina Perissi, PhD will be joining the Department as a new Assistant Professor! Valentina is a superb biochemist and cell biologist from Geoff Rosenfeld’s lab at UCSD working on transcriptional control and the assembly of regulatory complexes on DNA. Her most recent work has important implications for inflammation and diabetes. Valentina will start in July, and her laboratory will occupy newly renovated space on the Harrison Avenue wing of K6. Please join us in welcoming Valentina to the Department!

May 2011

Congratulations Graduates!

cakeThe Department of Biochemistry congratulates our students Kevin Anderson, Sunitha Chari, Alexia Eliades, Hicham Naimy, Stephanie Seidl, and Ziyang Yu who recently defended their PhD theses. Commencement for the PhD graduates will be on Saturday, May 21, 2011 at 10 am.commencement info