Illustration of protein engineering from the Romero Lab in Biochemistry
Mar 09, 2018

Proteins are an impressive bunch. Starting with amino acids as their basic building blocks, these complex molecules fold into intricate 3D structures and control just about every biological process that keeps us alive.

Phil Romero wants to understand how proteins accomplish that job so that he can eventually apply their power to important problems in medicine, agriculture, chemistry and bioenergy.

“Describing how proteins perform a vast array of biological functions is tremendously challenging for two reasons,” says Romero, an assistant professor of biochemistry at the...

Photo of biochemistry professor John Markley
Feb 23, 2018

The Department of Biochemistry and Department of Biomolecular Chemistry invite you to the 39th annual Steenbock Symposium on May 29-June 2, 2018. Registration is now open, and early discounted registration ends April 15.

This year’s symposium, entitled “Iron-Sulfur Proteins—Biogenesis, Regulation and Function,” will bring together scientists from across UW–Madison, the country, and the globe to discuss this unique class of proteins.

Patricia Kiley, professor and chair of Biomolecular Chemistry, and John Markley, biochemistry professor and director of the National Magnetic...

Photo of Amy Prunuske, former biochemistry postdoc
Feb 08, 2018

Amy Prunuske’s career is a healthy and happy mix of research, teaching, and community outreach — and she credits her time as a postdoctoral scholar in the Department of Biochemistry with helping shape that diverse career.

After earning an undergraduate degree in zoology and doing cancer research in the McArdle Laboratory for Cancer Research on campus, she went to the University of Utah for a Ph.D. in oncological sciences. An interest in the work of biochemistry professor Elizabeth Craig’s laboratory brought her back to the University of Wisconsin–Madison from 2007 to 2011.

Photo of Amy Betzelberger, Biochemistry's new undergraduate coordinator and advisor
Feb 01, 2018

The Department of Biochemistry has welcomed Amy Betzelberger as its new undergraduate coordinator and advisor.  

Betzelberger hails from Illinois and earned her bachelor’s degree in biology from Illinois State University and Ph.D. in plant biology at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign. A postdoc took her to the University of Cape Town in South Africa before returning to the States as the science liaison for Agrible, Inc., an agricultural tech startup, where she worked until joining Biochemistry.

Photo of assistant biochemistry professor Vatsan Raman
Jan 26, 2018

Assistant professor of biochemistry Vatsan Raman was recently named to a list of 44 young researchers featured in Biochemistry’s “Future of Biochemistry” special issue.

“It’s exciting to be invited to be part of this group, but what’s more exciting is that the rest of the researchers in this group are phenomenal,” Raman says. “I know some of them personally and they really cover the entire spectrum of research and represent the next big things in biochemistry. I’m happy to be a part of an amazing group of people that I respect.”

Photo of Har Gobind Khorana
Jan 09, 2018

On January 9, 1922, Har Gobind Khorana was born in the small village of Ruipar, India, now part of Pakistan. Today, on what would be his 96th birthday, Khorana is honored by the daily Google doodle for his Nobel Prize-winning work deciphering the genetic code, which takes the information from DNA into RNA and finally proteins and is fundamental to all of biology.

The doodle shows Khorana working in the lab, with a depiction of his work, the alphabet within our RNA, highlighted in Google’s distinctive blue, red, yellow and green.

Photo of Dave Pagliarini, professor of biochemistry
Jan 05, 2018

Coenzyme Q (CoQ) is a vital cog in the body’s energy-producing machinery, a kind of chemical gateway in the conversion of food into cellular fuel. But six decades removed from its discovery, scientists still can’t describe exactly how and when it is made.

Dave Pagliarini, an associate professor of biochemistry, says the list of unknowns is daunting. How does it migrate around in the cell? How does it get used up and replenished? What genes and proteins are responsible for CoQ dysfunction? Why does its presence decline as people age?

Photo of a two-year-old chimp named Betty
Dec 13, 2017

In the wild, chimpanzees face any number of dire threats, ranging from poachers to predators to deforestation.

That’s why scientists, investigating an outbreak of respiratory disease in a community of wild chimpanzees in Uganda’s Kibale National Park, were surprised and dismayed to discover that a human “common cold” virus known as rhinovirus C was killing healthy chimps.

“This was an explosive outbreak of severe coughing and sneezing,” says Tony Goldberg, a professor in the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s School of Veterinary Medicine and one of the senior authors of a...

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...

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