From the Chair
As 2018 comes to an end, I’d like to take this opportunity to share highlights from a successful year in the Department of Biochemistry. In our last newsletter, I introduced our eight newest faculty members, including the two who are largely responsible for our new Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center for Cryo-Electron Microscopy, Justin Kollman and David Veesler. In this issue, I’ll proudly share the latest accomplishments of our faculty. Our new faculty have started their labs, published in independent journals, secured outside funding, and attracted graduate students to their labs; all key milestones in launching successful independent careers.
Two of our junior faculty have received foundation funding. Young Kwon received an Edward Mallinckrodt, Jr. Foundation grant to support his investigation into the essential mechanisms underlying wasting processes using Drosophila melanogaster as an animal model for cachexia-like wasting. David Veesler is both a Pew Biomedical Scholar and Burroughs Wellcome Fund Investigator in the Pathogenesis of Infectious Disease. Dr. Veesler’s Pew project intends to design a vaccine against MERS and SARS. His Buroughs Wellcome project will work to elucidate the mechanism of infection for Nipah virus. Read more about these awards here.
Institute for Protein Design faculty members Liangcai Gu and Frank Dimaio were selected for the UW Innovation Award in 2017. The Innovation Awards were established in 2014 as part of the UW President’s Innovation Imperative, a broad institutional effort to foster a University-wide innovation mindset. Drs. Gu and Dimaio’s proposal is to develop a high-throughput method to detect small molecules, a technique which they will test on six drugs of high clinical importance. Read more about this award here.
Justin Kollman and David Veesler spearheaded an effort to expand our cryo electron microscopy suite. Partnering with multiple University of Washington Departments and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center for matching funds, they received funding from the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation, Murdock Foundation, Washington Research Foundation, and National Institutes of Health to purchase Titan Krios and Glacios microscopes, a Gatan K3 Direct Detection Camera, and a Gatan Bio Quantum GIF energy filter. More about this exciting resource here.
Thank you supporters. We are fortunate to have several funds to support lectures and graduate education. Among these are the Neurath Lectureship Fund, Bornstein Lectureship Fund, Schultz Fellowship, and Urdal Fellowship. In October, we held our 32nd Annual Hans Neurath Lecture, given by Eva Nogales of UC Berkeley. It was a wonderful and well-attended lecture. On April 16, 2019, we will host our 3rd Annual Paul Bornstein Memorial Lecture. We are thankful to Dr. Bornstein’s wife, Dr. Helene Sage, and his family and friends for establishing this lecture in Paul’s honor. Dr. Bornstein studied how cell-matrix interactions influence the cellular function of fibroblasts, osteoblasts, endothelial cells, and smooth muscle cells. Click here for details on the 2019 Bornstein Lecture. The Schultz Fellowship supports graduate student travel to society meetings to present their research. After their travels, students submit brief reports of their experiences. They always express gratitude for the great science that they are exposed to at society meetings, and for the chance to meet potential collaborators and make networking connections for their futures. More recently, the Urdal Fellowship for Graduate Education was established to honor Dr. David Urdal. This fellowship provides funding to our students to travel outside the area to receive training in techniques or on equipment that is not available in Seattle. Beginning this past fall, the fund also provides each of our incoming graduate students with a new laptop.
Our department is proud of all that our students and faculty have accomplished in 2018. Their hard work conducting innovative research and training the next generation of scientists is made possible by the generous support of our community, and–– especially in this holiday season –– we are grateful.
Wishing you all the best in 2019.