Photo of biochem undergrad alum Kevin Sokolowski
Dec 04, 2019

Biochemistry is the foundation of what Kevin Sokolowski does every day in his career. Armed with an undergraduate degree in biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin–Madison, as well as an M.D., he has embarked on a unique alternative career as a Senior Medical Science Liaison for Solid Tumor Oncology Development at AbbVie.

Sokolowski came to UW–Madison in 2000, after a year at UW–La Crosse, and graduated in 2003 before heading to medical school. He says he was drawn to Madison because of the university’s history and strength in biochemistry.

Energy for Life logo
Nov 26, 2019

For people that suffer from rare mitochondrial diseases, there aren’t many places to turn. The United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation (UMDF) is one organization providing resources that allow them to find community — and also connect with scientists, such as those who study proteins and cellular processes that relate to their disease in the lab of biochemistry professor and Morgridge Institute for Research investigator Dave Pagliarini.

Professor Emeritus of Biochemistry and Nutritional Sciences and Ph.D. alumnus William G. “Bill” Hoekstra
Nov 18, 2019

University of Wisconsin–Madison Professor Emeritus of Biochemistry and Nutritional Sciences and Ph.D. alumnus William G. “Bill” Hoekstra died on Monday, Nov. 4, 2019 at 91. For nearly four decades, he was a faculty member with expertise in the role of trace minerals in human and animal nutrition. He made seminal contributions to both departments and helped found the Department of Nutritional Sciences during his time in the UW–Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences.

Hoekstra was born in Colorado and obtained a bachelor’s degree at Colorado State University. He then headed...

Photo of Holly Ingraham
Nov 12, 2019

Holly Ingraham of the University of California, San Francisco will give the 2019 UW–Madison Department of Biochemistry Steenbock Lectures in early December. All members of the campus community are invited to attend these lectures and learn from this pioneer in understanding multiple areas of endocrine signaling.

Ingraham is known for both her research and being a leader of diversity in STEM initiatives. She investigates how multiple organs communicate energy demand and energy expenditure by regulating hunger, nutrient absorption, and physiological development. She is a leader in...

Biochemistry assistant professor and Morgridge investigator Jason Cantor
Nov 06, 2019

Cell culture media, the cocktail of chemicals and nutrients that keep cells alive and thriving in a dish, have been an essential tool of biology for more than 70 years. Remarkably, the composition of these potions hasn’t fundamentally changed much over that time, primarily because they deliver what scientists need: Cells that stay viable and rapidly divide.

But Jason Cantor is thinking about cell culture media from another angle: Can we make it more human?

Chemistry professor and biochemistry affiliate Andrew Buller
Oct 25, 2019

Andrew Buller, professor of chemistry at UW-Madison and affiliate of the Department of Biochemistry, is working to develop methods to create new protein building blocks in living systems. This chemical research, recently recognized with a $2.2 million grant from NIH, could make these processes more affordable for and accessible to scientists with expertise in other backgrounds.

Buller will receive a 2019 National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director’s New Innovator Award from the High-Risk, High-Reward program for his project, titled Engineering In Vivo Biomolecular Synthesis with...

Biochemistry professor Dave Pagliarini and Senator Tammy Baldwin
Oct 10, 2019

Forward-thinking science and childhood memories came full circle on Wednesday for U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, who visited a lab at the Morgridge Institute for Research that is carrying on the inspired legacy of her grandfather, David E. Green.

Baldwin, who was raised by her grandparents in Madison, spent many days visiting her grandfather’s lab just a few blocks away from the Morgridge Institute, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Enzyme Institute. Green was recruited from Columbia University in 1948 to be the original director of the Enzyme Institute and he led the program through...

Assistant scientists in the DeLuca Lab Amy Irving
Oct 03, 2019

It’s been a long and winding road in the lab of Emeritus Professor Hector F. DeLuca when it comes to the effects of vitamin D and ultraviolet (UV) light on the disease multiple sclerosis (MS), a debilitating neurological disease with no known cure. Years of research in mice have led them to the understanding that it’s not vitamin D that offers protection from the disease but rather a slice of the ultraviolet spectrum helping in some mysterious way.

One place to begin the story is with a finding from a scientist named D. Goldberg. In the 1970s he observed that there was an inverse...

Woonghee Lee in the lab of biochemistry professor John Markley
Sep 25, 2019

Woonghee Lee in the lab of biochemistry professor John Markley plans to improve data analysis for the burgeoning technique of solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy thanks to a grant from the National Science Foundation.

NMR studies require sophisticated instrumentation, such as that located in the National Magnetic Resonance Facility at Madison (NMRFAM) housed in the UW–Madison Department of Biochemistry. But gathering data on the instruments is only half the challenge. Data must be analyzed to transform the data read out to something researchers can interpret...

Biochemistry professor Brian Fox
Sep 19, 2019

Researchers in the University of Wisconsin–Madison Department of Biochemistry and Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC) will utilize a $2.1 million grant from the United States Department of Energy to elucidate the properties of a potentially useful and understudied class of genes and enzymes in important bioenergy crops, such as poplar, sorghum, and switchgrass. The project is led by professors Brian Fox and John Ralph. 

The two kinds of enzymes — called acyl-CoA ligases and BAHD acyltransferases — together create a large variety of potentially useful molecules. In a...

Photo of biochemistry assistant professor Amy Weeks
Sep 05, 2019

Although cells may seem endlessly complicated, at the end of the day they are machines that aren’t so different from those in daily life — like a Roomba used to vacuum a house. They are just millions of times smaller, made from different components such as proteins, and powered by chemistry rather than electricity.

It’s understanding these cells and the even smaller molecular machines inside them that drive the research of Scott Coyle and Amy Weeks, the two newest assistant professors to join the University of Wisconsin–Madison Department of Biochemistry in September 2019.

...

Biochemistry professor Aaron Hoskins
Aug 29, 2019

With a grant from the Edward P. Evans Foundation, biochemistry associate professor Aaron Hoskins is searching for new treatments for myelodysplastic syndromes — a type of blood cancer — by being able to screen for RNA splicing inhibitors using “humanized” yeast.

Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) arise when bone marrow has defects in producing red blood cells, which can cause anemia or even blood cancers like acute myeloid leukemia. Treatments for the disorder are limited.

Biochemistry professor and Morgridge Institute for Research investigator Tim Grant
Aug 20, 2019

The University of Wisconsin-Madison effort to launch a shared cryo-electron microscopy facility for the bioscience community is gathering momentum, with two new faculty hires and key technology investments this summer.

Tim Grant, a research specialist at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s (HHMI) Janelia Farm Research Campus, is the latest addition to the core team. Grant will be a virology investigator for the Morgridge Institute for Research and an assistant professor of biochemistry at UW-Madison when he comes to Madison in early 2020.

Peter Favreau, Biochemistry Optical Core manager
Aug 08, 2019

Peter Favreau joined the Department of Biochemistry in July as the new manager of the Biochemistry Optical Core (BOC). The research core is housed in Biochemistry but serves as a resource for all campus researchers using or interested in using microscopy in their research.

Favreau joins the BOC from the Morgridge Institute for Research, where he was a postdoctoral scholar in the lab of biomedical engineering professor Melissa Skala. The project he worked on investigated cancer drug screening. In the Skala Lab he utilized multiple microscopy techniques to help physicians find the...

Biochemistry assistant professor Robert Kirchdeorfer
Jul 24, 2019

When Robert Kirchdoerfer was offered a faculty position in the University of Wisconsin–Madison Department of Biochemistry, it was a bit of a homecoming. The 2006 undergraduate alumnus and Oregon, Wisc. native will be arriving back on campus in mid-August — this time as an assistant professor in Biochemistry and the Institute for Molecular Virology.

Following his Bachelor of Science with majors in biochemistry and genetics, Kirchdoerfer earned his Ph.D. in biophysics at Scripps Research Institute in Southern California and continued there as a postdoctoral scholar before coming back...

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