Photo of UW–Madison biochemistry professor John Ralph
Dec 06, 2017

John Ralph, biochemistry professor and researcher with the Wisconsin Energy Institute (WEI), has been named to Clarivate Analytics’ 2017 list of “Highly Cited Researchers.”

Ralph’s research areas include biofuels and other bioproducts, as well as plant genetics and breeding. His research group is recognized for their work with lignin, the polymer that strengthens plant cell walls.

Photo of biochemistry professor Aseem Ansari
Nov 30, 2017

Professor Aseem Ansari’s research group in the Department of Biochemistry has designed a molecule that can precisely target a specific part of DNA and “switch on” genes located there. Specifically, their molecule targets short sequences of DNA that repeat many times (GAA1-GAA2-GAA3-…). These GAA repeats cause the rare but fatal disease Friedreich’s ataxia, and molecules that target such sequences would open doors for possible treatments of the disease and many others like it caused by other repeats.

Photo of Michael Rummel, biochemistry undergraduate alumni
Nov 17, 2017

Only a little more than a decade out of his biochemistry undergraduate degree, Michael Rummel is an owner in and the chief operating officer of an independent laboratory based in Southern California named InSource Diagnostics.

The 2005 Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry graduate is on a mission to create a better patient experience and increase accessibility to preventative laboratory testing. His laboratory is pursuing the development of diagnostics assays that utilize a fraction of the blood needed when compared to historic assays. However, he is careful to point out that this...

Photo of biochemistry professor Katherine Henzler-Wildman
Nov 07, 2017

Researchers in the University of Wisconsin–Madison Department of Biochemistry have discovered that a cellular pump known to move drugs like antibiotics out of E. coli bacteria has the potential to bring them in as well, opening new lines of research into combating the bacteria.

The discovery could rewrite almost 50 years of thinking about how these types of transporters function in the cell.

Cells must bring in and remove different materials to survive. To accomplish this, they utilize different transporter proteins in their cell membranes, most of which are powered by what...

Photo of Project CRYSTAL participants
Oct 24, 2017

The successful middle school outreach program called Project CRYSTAL has returned to the Holden Lab in the Department of Biochemistry. Professor Hazel Holden and a group of motivated undergraduates are showing six adventurous eighth graders the basics of biochemistry and X-ray crystallography throughout the 2017-18 school year.

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.