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Alumni News 2008

The Attie lab is delving ever more deeply into genetics of diabetes. Our lab has completed a large study where we are identifying gene loci that control gene expression of many thousands of genes in various tissues in relation to obesity and diabetes. The volume of data before us has made us develop a web site that allows us to probe our large data sets. We have made part of our data publicly available: http://diabetes.wisc.edu.

Below are some news items from various past and present members of the Attie lab.

Angie Oler is a biochemist turned geneticist. She is currently chasing diabetic genes on mouse chromosomes 16 and 2. Most of her days, she is up to her ears in pancreatic islets. She spends her free time playing volleyball on her home court and traveling the ever expansive globe.

Summer Raines is continuing her graduate work in the Attie Lab, with a focus on vascularization of the pancreatic islet. Outside of lab, she recently became engaged to Greg Jakubczak (former Raines lab manager), and is planning a wedding for September 2009, (hopefully) following her graduation.

Phil Raess is enjoying his third year of medical school, doing clinical rotations at the UW hospital and in outlying communities. He and his wife Nicole have been enjoying cross-country skiing this winter in their rare free time. Phil will graduate from the MSTP in 2009, and has yet to decide on his medical specialty.

Susie Clee left her position in the Department of Biochemistry at the end of June last year. She is currently establishing her own lab as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Cellular and Physiological Sciences at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. Her work will continue to focus on using genetics as a tool to identify novel pathways increasing susceptibility to developing obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Jaap Twisk has been working at Amsterdam Molecular Therapeutics (Amsterdam, The Netherlands) since 2002, where he is involved in a number of gene therapy projects. The most promising project involves adenovirus-associated virus (AAV)-mediated expression of Lipoprotein Lipase (LPL) in muscle, as a treatment for Type I LPL deficiency in man. The project has evolved from designing the vector, testing it in LPL-deficient mice and cats, to clinical testing in patients. Jaap is mostly involved in research management but spends part of his time at the bench as well.

Jaap and Arlene live in Hillegom in the Netherlands, between the tulips, where they spend most of their free time rebuilding and refurbishing their (old) house. They have 2 cats for company. Free time is otherwise spent on softball, dancing, playing the trumpet (very early stages), and of course enjoying those beautiful flowers!

Dan Gretch is now an Associate Professor at Carroll College in Helena, MT. He is teaching Biochemistry and Genetics, as well as conducting research on prion protein misfolding in Chronic Wasting Disease. Living in Helena places him within 20 miles of 4 lakes, dozens of hiking trails, 20+ campgrounds, and the continental divide. If you are visiting MT, stop by and say hello!

Scott and Amy Cooper are enjoying a very white Wisconsin winter. Scott's new challenge in his 13th year of teaching at UW-LaCrosse is a course in radiation biology. He's already hit Scott Lowe up for some suggestions on using p53 in the lab section.

Paul Bates is teaching Freshman and Advanced Placement Biology at Edgewood High School. He is also an Adjunct Professor at Edgewood College, teaching Biotechnology as well as supervising some undergraduate students in their research projects. They are studying hybridization between native and invasive species of the aquatic plant milfoil at the anatomic and DNA levels. In his free time, he's building furniture for his home and training for his second marathon.

After completing her doctorate degree in 2006, Jessica Flowers went on to become a registered dietitian after completing an internship in dietetics at the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics. She is currently participating in the Waisman Center Leadership Experience in Neurological Development interdisciplinary training program and she recently started working as a nutritionist for the research diet design company Harlan-Teklad.

Don Gillian-Daniel is now an Associate Director of the Delta Program in Research, Teaching and Learning at UW (www.delta.wisc.edu). He recently co-authored a book chapter about the program, "Preparing Future STEM Faculty," to appear in the Monograph Series: "New Directions in Teaching and Learning." Don also teaches metabolism in the Vet School each spring (Alan's old course), where he gets to try out all kinds of new pedagogy on the unsuspecting students! Anne Lynn is the Program Administrator for the NMRFAM with John Markley.

Dawn Brasaemle, Associate Professor in Nutritional Sciences, Rutgers University, organized the first ever conference dedicated to the biology of lipid droplets as a 2007 FASEB Summer Research Conference. The conference was a huge success, and was attended by Attie lab alum Steve Sturley, who gave a brilliant talk (as usual). The conference will continue as a regular meeting with the next one scheduled for Summer 2010.

Thomas Baranski was promoted to Associate Professor at Washington University where he continues his research on signal transduction by G proteins. He has also initiated a new project in the lab that focuses on glucose toxicity and insulin resistance in a Drosophila model system. As an added benefit, this project has precipitated discussions and video chats with his former mentor, Alan. Capitalizing on this technology, Tom co-founded a company, Medros (Medicines from Drosophila) that uses whole animal screening to identify novel drugs for cancer and diabetes. Tom remains happily married to Karen and his family continues to grow. He has three children--Katie (9), Elizabeth (6), and Jack (4).

I have been on the "dark side", pharmaceutical industry as my academic friends call it, for three years. I chase new drug targets in obesity and diabetes. An industry job relies heavily on team work and collaborations. I don't need to run all the experiments, but I need to work with my colleagues or with outside service companies to get results as fast as possible. I spend a large amount of time writing e-mails and attending various meetings, coordinating group efforts. I enjoy working with my colleagues.

Kurt Grunwald is taking his last class towards his degree(s) in Physics with Astronomy Emphasis and Math. He has accepted a new position at UW-La Crosse as the equipment maintenance manager. He will be responsible for maintenance and repair of the Biotech equipment in Biology. He is also the Radiation Safety Officer at UW-L. His oldest son is in middle school, his daughter is in elementary school and his younger son will start kindergarten this fall. Kurt and his son Alex are active Boy Scouts. Kurt is slated to become the Scoutmaster for their troop next year. With any free time Kurt is a part time business partner in a woodworking business making yoga props at "Yoga Place Props."