Biochemistry professor John Ralph
Oct 11, 2018

Lignin makes up about a quarter of plant biomass and is the most abundant source of renewable aromatics on Earth. Aromatics are materials with six carbon rings usually derived from petroleum that are the building blocks for a wide array from products - from plastics to pharmaceuticals.

Despite its high energy density, researchers have struggled to find ways to realize lignin’s value, but if harnessed, this naturally-occurring substance could transform agricultural markets for the better.

Assistant professor of biochemistry Vatsan Raman
Oct 02, 2018

Biochemistry assistant professor Srivatsan “Vatsan” Raman has received a Director's New Innovator Award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The $2.2 million-grants fund high-risk, high-reward research performed by early stage investigators. Compared to traditional NIH grants, the New Innovator Award supports “unusually creative early stage investigators” whose research can have a broad impact on biomedical sciences.

Raman’s project is focused on understanding protein allostery. Allostery is a property by which when something happens to one part of a protein, a signal is...

Three undergraduate biochemistry alumni at UPMC
Sep 27, 2018

Three UW–Madison Department of Biochemistry undergraduate alumni walked into the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) and were instantly connected by their Badger pride. They might be far from their favorite spot, the Memorial Union Terrace, but that didn’t stop them from showing the rest of their medical team pictures of it — but “they just don’t do it justice,” they say.

The three alumni, all at different stages of their medical education, have met at UPMC as an attending, intern, and medical student. As fate would have it they all ended up on the same medical team at...

Rebecca Smith, a scientist in the lab of Professor John Ralph
Sep 13, 2018

Rebecca Smith has loved plants for a long time. In fact, her interest stems from an AP biology class in high school. 

“Something about the enormous variation and complexity in the plant kingdom sparked my interest,” says the assistant scientist at the Wisconsin Energy Institute and Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC), “and I knew I wanted to study plants as a career.”

During her undergraduate at the University of Manitoba, Smith took a course called ‘Medicinal and Hallucinogenic Plants’ which, she says, served as her introduction to the fascinating world of plant...

Students presenting at the life sciences consultancy competition
Sep 06, 2018

Badger Business Solutions — a team of graduate students and a postdoctoral researcher representing the departments and programs of Biochemistry, Chemistry, Food Science, and Biophysics — won third place at the Tufts New England Case Competition (TUNECC) on Friday, Aug. 3, 2018.

TUNECC is a life sciences consultancy competition where students and researchers are given an actual business case scenario: the company Seres Therapeutics specializes in microbiome therapies and is running out of cash but possesses great assets in their research pipeline that could make a profit. The...

Photo of biochemistry major Andy Delaitsch making the W sign on top of Jungfrau during a break from EMBL.
Aug 30, 2018

Not every student will go skydiving while doing research abroad like biochemistry undergraduate Meng Lou. However, they can take a plunge by making the decision to travel to a country they’ve never been to and perform research there in a scientific laboratory.

New Biochemistry professor Morgridge Institute investigator Jason Cantor
Aug 16, 2018

Jason Cantor could describe himself as an engineer, biologist and biochemist, but don’t try to put his expertise into one box.

Cantor, a scientist exploring the environmental influences on cancer cell metabolism, is launching a new lab in the Metabolism Theme at the Morgridge Institute for Research and joining the University of Wisconsin-Madison departments of biochemistry and biomedical engineering this August 2018.

“I have this half engineering, half fundamental biology background, and it’s a bit difficult to fit cookie-cutter style into one traditional department or one...

Photo of Elmer and the Hector F. DeLuca Biochemical Sciences Building
Aug 09, 2018

The University of Wisconsin–Madison campus is saying goodbye to a beloved natural landmark. An elm tree that has stood for more than 100 years fell victim to Dutch elm disease and is in the process of being removed from the Hector F. DeLuca (HFD) Biochemical Sciences Complex by UW–Madison grounds staff.

The tree – often known informally as Elmer – has a rich past with the Department of Biochemistry and surrounding departments in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS), such as the Department of Horticulture. Thousands of students who have taken biochemistry courses or...

Logo for Frontiers in Metabolism meeting
Aug 02, 2018

Metabolism is referred to as the “chemistry of life” and any dysfunction in its various pathways can greatly affect human health. A new scientific meeting hosted by the Morgridge Institute for Research will focus on the underlying mechanisms of metabolic diseases and innovations in the tools used to study them.

Biochemistry undergraduate Jon Doenier
Jul 24, 2018

Jon Doenier’s undergraduate career came to a close in May with not just bachelor’s degrees in biochemistry and computer science and three years of research experience — but also with a prestigious 2018 Dean’s Prize from the College of Letters and Science. He was one of three students from the college to earn the award.

“I was really surprised to be one of the three graduating students to earn the Dean’s Prize,” he says. “I came to UW–Madison to be part of a large research university and got involved in research my sophomore year. I think research is extremely valuable for society in...

Professor of biochemistry and Morgridge Fellow Dave Pagliarini
Jul 17, 2018

Heart disease is the number one killer in the United States, and high triglyceride levels in the blood are cited as just one of several risk factors. Millions of lipid panels, blood tests that look at cholesterol levels as well as triglycerides, are performed in clinics each year.

Two new Morgridge Institute for Research studies suggest the current tests, which measure the abundance of lipid classes, are insufficient. Rather, lipids identified and studied at the individual species level—instead of grouped in classes—may be better signatures of metabolic health.

The results...

Audrey Gasch, Biochemistry alumna and UW–Madison professor of genetics
Jul 13, 2018

Audrey Gasch just couldn’t stay away from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. The Wisconsin native earned her Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry here in ’94 and a decade later became a faculty member back at UW–Madison in the Department of Genetics.

“My undergraduate years in Biochemistry are really what got me started in research,” she says. “I was advised by now-Emeritus Professor George Reed, who introduced me to the possibility of doing laboratory research as an undergraduate, which was rarer then than it is now. He connected me with now-Emeritus Professor Bill Reznikoff and I...

Biochemistry professor Michael Sussman
Jul 10, 2018

Biochemistry professor Mike Sussman, longtime director of the UW-Madison Biotechnology Center, has announced that he is stepping down from that position to serve as director of the Genome Center of Wisconsin, located within the Biotechnology Center.

"With DNA analysis now permeating all aspects of research, our economy and our lives, aggressive attention to changes in the technology and its applications on campus is needed to ensure that we stay at the forefront of genomic sciences," Sussman says. "Moving forward, together with the excellent faculty already present in the center and...

Photo of biochemistry undergraduate Leah Johnson
Jun 26, 2018

University of Wisconsin–Madison biochemistry undergraduate students claimed three national awards and scholarships this spring. Clare Cimperman won a Fulbright Scholarship, Leah Johnson brought home a Udall Scholarship, and Nathan Wang earned a Goldwater Scholarship.

Cimperman, who graduated from UW–Madison in 2017, studied both biochemistry and Chinese. Her Fulbright will take her to Taiwan to teach English. She will be teaching in the city of Kaohsiung.

“I was so surprised and honored to win,” she says. “I thought my plans to be a science researcher put me behind students...

Photo of biochemistry professor Ophelia Venturelli
Jun 21, 2018

The human gut is teeming with microbes, each interacting with one another in a mind-boggling network of positive and negative exchanges. Some produce substances that serve as food for other microbes, while others produce toxins – antibiotics – that kill their neighbors.

Scientists have been challenged trying to understand how this collection of gut microbes – known as the microbiome – is formed, how it changes over time and how it is affected by disturbances like antibiotics used to treat illnesses. A new study from Ophelia Venturelli, a biochemistry professor at the University of...

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