Image of Harry Steenbock depicted in murals in Biochemistry
Oct 13, 2017

The year 1917 — 100 years ago — was a big year for the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, then called the Department of Agricultural Chemistry. Now in 2017 the department is celebrating the centennial of two major achievements: the discoveries of vitamin B and the link between goiter and iodine.

Elmer McCollum and Marguerite Davis were responsible for the discovery of “fat-soluble A” (which was eventually resolved into vitamins A, E, D, and K), and E. B. Hart and Harry Steenbock confirmed that iodine can alleviate goiter. These two important...

Photo of Frederick Porter
Sep 21, 2017

For biochemistry Ph.D. alumnus Frederick Porter, graduate school was a start to a second phase in his career. After beginning a career in the pharmaceutical industry, he came to the University of Wisconsin–Madison Department of Biochemistry in his thirties to study virology under biochemistry professor Ann Palmenberg. After graduating in 2008 and completing a postdoc, his career took him out of the basic science lab and into vaccine product development.

After graduating from the department, Fred spent eight years in the vaccine industry where he held multiple roles leading the...

Photo of a crystal obtained by the Holden Lab
Sep 14, 2017

It’s square one. It’s step one. It puts the “basic” in basic science. How ever you describe it, understanding protein structure and function through what’s called X-ray crystallography is an important approach in many areas of biochemistry, including drug design. And it’s a technique many researchers in the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Wisconsin–Madison specialize in.

A computer repairperson can’t fix or improve a computer without knowing anything about the parts, and a scientist can’t work with a protein properly without knowledge of its basic structure first....

Photo of Allison Didychuk
Sep 08, 2017

Think of the cellular machine known as the spliceosome as being like a car. For a car to function properly, its parts have to be assembled in a particular order. Additionally, many of the car’s parts have to also be put together before they can be put in the car, making up an increasingly complex system of assembly that must be tightly regulated to ensure it is done correctly.

In the case of the spliceosome, errors don’t result in recalls, but instead in a lack of the proteins humans need to survive or stay healthy. The spliceosome is responsible for taking RNA — which gets its...

Photo of a biochemistry undergraduate researcher
Aug 25, 2017

Getting undergraduate students involved in research is part of the mission of the Department of Biochemistry and the University of Wisconsin–Madison as a whole. Finding a laboratory to join that does research you’re interested in can seem daunting — but it shouldn’t. Faculty, advisors, and other students are here to help. Here are six ways any undergraduate can get into research.

Photo of Mark Meyer, UW–Madison Department of Biochemistry associate scientist and first author on the study
Aug 18, 2017

Biochemists at the University of Wisconsin–Madison have deciphered the molecular mechanisms that underpin how the synthesis of the active form of vitamin D is regulated in the kidney, summing up decades of research in this area that was started here in the Department of Biochemistry in the 1970s.          

Photo of Jacob Karlen, biochemistry undergraduate alum
Aug 10, 2017

An upbringing on a Wisconsin dairy farm, combined with an interest in biochemistry, led 2008 biochemistry undergraduate alum Jacob Karlen to a career overseeing technology used to chemically analyze agricultural forage.

During the first semester of his freshman year in the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s Department of Biochemistry, Karlen got involved in research at the Dairy Forage Research Center on campus. Through his biochemistry undergraduate classes and work in research, he developed a keen interest in the instrumentation used to gather data in the laboratory. Today he is...

Ophelia Venturelli, biochemistry assistant professor
Aug 03, 2017

Biochemistry assistant professor Ophelia Venturelli recently received funding for her proposal to the Army Research Office Young Investigator Program. Titled “Large-scale mapping and modeling of human gut microbiota stability and activity,” her research project seeks to develop new technologies to study microbiomes.

Christian Collin, a recent Youth Apprentice in the Department of Biochemistry's information technology office.
Jul 27, 2017

Over the years, the Department of Biochemistry's laboratories and staff members have mentored high school students through the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development's Youth Apprenticeship Program. Apprentices have worked in biochemistry laboratories and in information technology and go on to successful careers or college education. 

Photo of Mark Keller, who recently earned the title of Distinguished Scientist in the Department of Biochemistry
Jul 14, 2017

Staff scientist Mark Keller’s long and successful career in the Department of Biochemistry has received some much-deserved recognition. He recently earned the prestigious University of Wisconsin–Madison “Distinguished” job title — one of only a handful in the department to ever receive the honor.

Biochemistry’s faculty and students are supported by many talented scientific and administrative staff, and for years Keller has been an integral part of the lab of Professor Alan Attie.

Photo of Ben Ehrlich mentoring elementary school students
Jul 06, 2017

By getting involved in the Adult Role Models in Science (ARMS) program, some biochemistry undergraduate majors are mentoring elementary and middle school students in science. 

Photo of Ann Palmenberg
Jun 26, 2017

Ann Palmenberg and Rob Kalejta heard complaints at one too many virology conferences about the perceived lack of women among the invited and keynote speakers. So, they did what all good scientists do: They tracked down the data.

In their recent study, published in the Journal of Virology, the University of Wisconsin–Madison researchers examined 35 years worth of invited speaker rosters from four prominent virology meetings, including the American Society for Virology, which is hosting its annual meeting in Madison, Wisconsin starting June 24, 2017.  They found that men were...

Graphic of the gut microbiome
Jun 22, 2017

Out of a wide range of thirteen projects funded by the UW­–Madison Microbiome Initiative, two of them are led or in collaboration with Department of Biochemistry faculty members. The funding was announced June 20, 2017.

The Integrated Program in Biochemistry Logo
Jun 13, 2017

The Integrated Program in Biochemistry — the joint graduate program of the Department of Biochemistry and Department of Biomolecular Chemistry — is proud to announce its recent award winners. Tyler Stanage earned the Sigrid Leirmo Memorial Award in Biochemistry and Michael Kelliher and Keren Turton each received a Denton Award for Graduate Student Excellence in Teaching and Mentoring.


Tyler Stanage, a graduate student
in the Cox Lab, won the 2017 Sigrid 
Leirmo Memorial Award in Biochemistry.

Photo of Aaron Goldstrohm, former biochemistry postdoc
Jun 07, 2017

The Department of Biochemistry at the University of Wisconsin–Madison has a long and rich history of studying RNA biology. It’s what former postdoctoral scholar Aaron Goldstrohm says drew him to the department and helped further his career.

Goldstrohm was a postdoc in the lab of professor Marvin Wickens from 2001-2008. After a stint at the University of Michigan, where he earned tenure, he is now a faculty member at the University of Minnesota. He rapidly became a leader in understanding the mechanisms of RNA regulation, and most recently, its roles in human disease.

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