Biological Sciences Initiative
May 30, 2014
The Howard Hughes Medical Institute has awarded the Biological Sciences Initiative at the University of Colorado Boulder $1.5 million over five years to continue to transform science education by encouraging more real-world research experiences for undergraduates, ranging from cancer studies to screenings for new antibiotics.
The new award will allow CU-Boulder to strengthen hands-on, research-oriented teaching to students planning to major in science, technology, engineering or mathematics, popularly known as STEM, said Julie Graf, director of CU-Boulder’s Biological Sciences Initiative. CU-Boulder is one of 37 research universities across the nation to be awarded a total of $60 million in the new round of funding announced today by HHMI, which is headquartered in Chevy Chase, Md.
Prior HHMI funding to CU-Boulder has helped engage more than 1,600 undergraduates in research projects spearheaded by roughly 230 faculty members from 15 departments. Graf said 92 percent of those students earned undergraduate STEM degrees. In addition, 82 percent of underrepresented minority students from that pool earned undergraduate STEM degrees, and 47 percent of the total number of CU-Boulder STEM students went on to earn doctoral degrees, said Graf.
May 27, 2014
Scientists from the University of Colorado Cancer Center and the University of Colorado Boulder used a new technology to tease out how the p53 gene—which is responsible for recognizing damaged DNA in cells and then marking them for death—is actually able to suppress tumors by determining what other genes p53 regulates. The study, published in the journal eLife, describes dozens of new genes directly regulated by p53.
The study authors say further research can explore which of these genes are necessary for p53’s cancer-killing effect, how cancer cells evade these p53-activated genes, and how doctors may be able to affect cancer cells’ ability to stay safe from these genetic attempts at suppression.
The exhaustively studied gene p53—which has been the subject of 50,000 papers over more than 30 years of research—is the most commonly inactivated gene in cancers. When p53 acts, cells are stopped or killed before they can survive, grow, replicate and cause cancer.
Help fight cancer and further research like this by donating to MCD Biology's Relay for Life Boulder team.
May 1, 2014
Brooke Wittleder, a 2013 graduate of CU-Boulder, with degrees in MCD Biology and Spanish, has been awarded a Fulbright grant to pursue teaching, research and graduate studies abroad during the 2014-15 academic year.
“The work of our students and their contributions to the global community are inspiring,” said Chancellor Philip P. DiStefano. “As ambassadors of CU-Boulder, they are bettering the world while setting an exciting path forward for their own lives and careers.”
Fulbright students are selected on the basis of academic and professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields. The 68-year-old program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, operates in more than 140 countries and currently awards about 1,900 grants annually to U.S. students, foreign students, U.S. scholars, visiting scholars, teachers and professionals.
Associate Professor Adjoint
April 30, 2014
Dr. Thomas Perkins, of the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Boulder, and Associate Professor Adjoint of Molecular Cellular and Developmental Biology and JILA Fellow, has been named one of 12 recipients of the 2013 Arthur S. Flemming Award, which honors outstanding federal employees.
The award recognizes Perkins “for creating unprecedented new ways, as a physicist, to precisely measure and manipulate the key molecules of life (DNA, RNA, proteins) under real world biological conditions for the first time, through innovative, multidisciplinary programs combining atomic force microscopy (AFM), laser physics, molecular biology, and advanced electronics. Dr. Perkins’ leadership has led to the invention of new AFM systems 100 times more stable and sensitive than the previous world’s best.”
April 23, 2014
University of Colorado Boulder biologist Leslie Leinwand has been selected as a member of the 2014 class of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, which honors the leading “thinkers and doers” from each generation, including scientists, scholars, writers and artists.
Leinwand—chief scientific officer for CU-Boulder’s BioFrontiers Institute and a professor of molecular, cellular and developmental biology—is an expert in cardiovascular disease.
“Her election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences is an outstanding recognition of Leslie’s scientific contributions to understanding the biology of the heart,” said BioFrontiers Institute Director Tom Cech.
March 25, 2014
Most university faculty divide their time between research activities, teaching and service to their institutions, sometimes putting in hundreds of hours weekly to accomplish the job’s demands. Being able to shine in all of these areas is a rare accomplishment, especially for newer faculty. For BioFrontiers faculty member Robin Dowell, juggling these responsibilities is somewhat second nature.
“With respect to components of academia, I firmly believe that these are difficult to separate,” she says. “The best way to deeply understand scientific concepts is to get your hands dirty— actually perform an experiment, write a program, or solve a math problem — or to teach the concepts to someone else. In the best-case scenarios, you do both.”
Her ability to apply this philosophy recently earned Dowell the National Science Foundation’s most prestigious award for junior faculty, the Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) grant. Providing five years of support totaling more than $650,000, the grant recognizes emerging investigators who excel at combining teaching and research in ways that directly impact their institutions and the broader community. Dowell is one of only ten scientists nationwide in the field of molecular and cellular bioscience who have received the award so far this year.
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Jonathan Van Blerkom
March 10, 2014
Two of MCD Biology's faculty have been recognized for professional excellence!
The Boulder Faculty Assembly has announced the 2014 recipients of the BFA Excellence Awards. These are the highest awards given by the BFA and recognize faculty for efforts in teaching, research and creative work, and service and leadership. Please join us in congratulating this year's BFA Excellence awardees.
Jennifer D. Bernet
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February 16, 2014
New findings on why skeletal muscle stem cells stop dividing and renewing muscle mass during aging points up a unique therapeutic opportunity for managing muscle-wasting conditions in humans, says a new University of Colorado Boulder study.
According to CU-Boulder Professor Bradley Olwin, the loss of skeletal muscle mass and function as we age can lead to sarcopenia, a debilitating muscle-wasting condition that generally hits the elderly hardest. The new study indicates that altering two particular cell-signaling pathways independently in aged mice enhances muscle stem cell renewal and improves muscle regeneration.
One cell-signaling pathway the team identified, known as p38 MAPK, appears to be a major player in making or breaking the skeletal muscle stem cell, or satellite cell, renewal process in adult mice, said Olwin of the molecular, cellular and developmental biology department. Hyperactivation of the p38 MAPK cell-signaling pathway inhibits the renewal of muscle stem cells in aged mice, perhaps because of cellular stress and inflammatory responses acquired during the aging process.
February 11, 2014
University of Colorado professor Mike Klymkowsky wants people to understand that evolution isn't inherently easy to understand, and teachers shouldn't pretend it is when talking to students.
He'll describe the difficulties of teaching evolution in a talk Wednesday as part of Darwin Day, a global celebration of science held on the birthday of evolutionary biologist Charles Darwin.
Klymkowsky is a professor in CU's molecular, cellular and developmental biology department and co-director of CU Teach, a math and science teacher preparation program.
January 26, 2014
When a batch of Avery Brewing Co.'s India Pale Ale goes through the brewing process, the Boulder-based brewer's California Ale Yeast conducts a dynamic performance.
The lively yeast not only helps to develop the alcohol and carbonation for the beer, but its unique genetic makeup also affects the finished product's character by accentuating the floral, citrus and piney hops, and leaving a clean brew.
That delicate dance and its result easily could get muddled if another strain — say, Belgian Wit Yeast — is present in the tank. That yeast, used for Avery's White Rascal Belgian Wheat, could impart its phenolic and spicy attributes on the hoppy flagship beer.
by Joaquin Espinosa
HHMI Early Career Scientist
January 17, 2014
Pink ribbons are for breast cancer, dark blue ribbons are for colon cancer, white ribbons are for lung cancer, gray ribbons are for brain cancer, emerald green ribbons are for liver cancer, and zebra-striped ribbons are for carcinoid cancers. January is cervical cancer awareness month, represented by the teal-and-white ribbon. February is for gallbladder and bile duct cancers, with a kelly green ribbon to represent them. And so on.
As cancer kills more people than ever before, it is natural for us to seek affiliation with those affected by a similar cancer type. Breast cancer patients, survivors and their friends and relatives coalesce their efforts to create awareness and raise funds for breast cancer research and prevention. The same goes for those affected by other cancers, and there is nothing wrong with that. At a time when the National Cancer Institute is losing purchasing power at a scary pace, and when cancer researchers struggle to fund their laboratories, every fundraising and educational effort from organized citizens makes a big difference.
However, we must be very cautious about how brightly we color our ribbons.
Distinguished Professor, Adjunct
January 16, 2014
Acclaimed University of Colorado Nobel laureate Thomas Cech has added another distinction to his resume with his appointment to the first-ever National Commission on Forensic Science.
Cech, a CU Distinguished Professor who shared the 1989 Nobel Prize in chemistry for the discovery of the catalytic properties of RNA, was one of seven chemists among the 33 commission members who were selected out of a pool of more than 300 applicants.
The commission is a joint project of the U.S. Department of Justice and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
A statement issued by NIST said members of the commission are charged with working to improve the practice of forensic science by developing guidance concerning the intersections between forensic science and the criminal justice system.
Jonathan Van Blerkom
January 1, 2014
Dr. Van Blerkom performed Colorado’s first successful in vitro fertilization procedure in 1982. He is recognized throughout the world as a preeminent expert on egg and sperm physiology. He has been Professor, Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, University of Colorado at Boulder since 1986 and IVF Laboratory Director, Colorado Reproductive Endocrinology, Rose Medical Center, Denver, CO since 1998. He is also Co-Coordinator: ESHRE/WHO Task Force on Reproductive Health in the Developing World.
Dr. Jonathan Van Blerkom has been named Embryologist of the year 2013 for his life-long contribution to the field of Reproductive Embryology and recent development of a low cost IVF technique to make IVF affordable for infertility patients in developing countries.
Dr. Van Blerkom has lectured extensively throughout North America, Europe, and Australia. He also serves on the editorial board of several international publications and has written numerous articles and books.
Live Births With Simplified IVF Procedure: Breakthrough Towards Universal and Accessible Infertility Care
Jonathan Van Blerkom
December 6, 2013
A recent prospective study published in Reproductive BioMedicine Online comparing conventional IVF with a novel simplified method showed that fertilization and implantation rates were similar for the simplified system when compared with those reported by conventional IVF programs. Sixteen healthy babies have already been born with this new method. According to the results of this study, IVF can be offered at reasonable prices and can be made available to a much larger part of the world population in the near future.
￼￼!More than 5 million IVF babies have now been born worldwide, but because of
December 6, 2013
There is a call to label foods as to whether they contain ingredients derived from genetically modified organisms (GMOs.) Not to concern ourselves for the moment with the fact that all modern foods are GMOs, the result of centuries to millennia of human interventions, Craig Schiesley (speaking on the opinion page of the Daily Camera, apparently in his role as a vice-president of a company that stands to gain from such labeling), raises a particularly interesting question, why shouldn't all foods, that is, anything people are expected to eat, be accurately labeled?
October 23, 2013
Thirty CU undergraduate and graduate students from a wide range of science and engineering departments worked together to design their project: “DIY Synthetic Biology,” taking apart and reconstructing lab techniques and tools and improving them. Over the summer, six students completed the project. Then, these students boarded a plane to Montreal, Canada with their faculty mentor, practiced their presentation until 2:00 a.m., and competed with 52 North American teams, earning an iGEM special award and their place in the upcoming iGEM World Competition in Boston this November.
August 27, 2013
The 2013 Society for Developmental Biology Viktor Hamburger Outstanding Educator Prize was awarded to Bill Wood for his outstanding contributions to developmental biology education. The University of Colorado, Boulder Distinguished Professor Emeritus has long championed improving science education through active learning methods.
August 27, 2013
The field work, led by Norman Pace, and financed by the Sloan Foundation, is beginning to map the ecological niches favored by certain aquatic organisms, which could lead to better screening methods and better water treatment.
July 10, 2013
A professor of molecular, cellular and developmental biology at CU-Boulder, Van Blerkom performed Colorado’s first successful in vitro fertilization procedure in 1982 and is recognized internationally for his research on egg and sperm physiology. He has been working with ESHRE since the project began in 2008.
June 28, 2013
Rui Yi, PhD, assistant professor of molecular, cellular and developmental biology at the University of Colorado Boulder and University of Colorado Cancer Center investigator has been awarded a four-year, $720,000 Research Scholar Grant from the American Cancer Society (ACS).
June 13, 2013
The grants awarded by the Webb-Waring Biomedical Research Program support the work of promising Colorado ECIs – Early Career Investigators; these faculty members are four years or less from their first academic appointment at a research institution. Eligible investigators apply through a competitive process within their respective institutions.
Protein linked with tumor growth could be potential target for cancer-fighting drugs, according to study led by CU-Boulder
June 7, 2013
A team of researchers led by the University of Colorado Boulder has discovered a protein complex that could be targeted with drugs to stunt tumor growth.
As tumors expand, their centers are deprived of oxygen, and so tumors must flip specific genetic switches to survive in these hypoxic environments.
June 6, 2013
"I can tell you the exact date that I began to think of myself in the first-person plural — as a superorganism, that is, rather than a plain old individual human being. It happened on March 7. That’s when I opened my e-mail to find a huge, processor-choking file of charts and raw data from a laboratory located at the BioFrontiers Institute at the University of Colorado, Boulder."
May 21, 2013
Shelley Copley of the University of Colorado and her colleagues have tested out the individual enzymes that Sphingobium use. From this they have been abel to map out some of the origins of this species.
Dr. Leslie Leinwand has been named the Bonfils Stanton Foundation 2013 Honoree in Science and Medicine
May 17, 2013
The Bonfils-Stanton Annual Awards Program was established in 1984 in recognition of Charles Stanton’s desire to honor individuals who are advancing excellence in the Foundation’s major areas of interest. Each year, the Foundation Trustees recognize outstanding Coloradans with the dual goals of bringing acclaim to their efforts and motivating others to greater accomplishments on behalf of Colorado and its citizens. We would like to congratulate Dr. Leslie Leinwand for this achivement.
May 17, 2013
A particular tumor suppressor gene that fights cancer cells does more than clamp down on unabated cell division -- the hallmark of the disease -- it also can help make cells more fit by allowing them to fend off stress, says a University of Colorado Boulder study.
Febuary 22, 2013
Congratulations to Professor Mike Klymkowsky of the Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology department! He has received the 2013 Outstanding Undergraduate Science Teacher Award (OUSTA) from the Society for College Science Teachers (SCST). Mike is a leader on campus in using technologies to facilitate learning. To learn more about Mike's award, visit the SCST site. To learn more about Mike's work see his Be Socratic web site or his Klymkowsky lab site.
Febuary 7, 2013
In 2013, around 12,000 American women will be diagnosed with invasive cervical cancer and more than 4,000 will die from it. Globally, cervical cancer is the third most common cancer in women worldwide, killing >275,000 every year. But these numbers will go down, must go down, because cervical cancer is now a fully preventable disease. Or isn't it?
The MCD Biology Building on campus, long known to house outstanding research and teaching, has been renamed the Gold Biosciences Building in honor of University of Colorado Professor Larry Gold, an internationally known scientist whose research there over decades has spawned numerous discoveries and commercially successful biotechnology patents...
Congratulations to Buff Energy Star winners: Jerry Greene (MCDB) and Clark Oldroyd (Koenig Alumni Center)
December 5, 2012
As part of CU-Boulder’s ongoing effort to reduce its environmental footprint and campus energy bill, the university rewards employees who implement strategies to reduce energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions. Two campus buildings—the Koenig Alumni Center and Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology (MCDB)—attained Buff Energy Star status during the 2011-2012 fiscal year, in which building employees reduce energy usage by at least 5% over the previous fiscal year.
November 27, 2012
The Ellison Medical Foundation Senior Scholar in Aging program is designed to support established investigators working at institutions in the U.S. to conduct research in the basic biological sciences relevant to understanding lifespan development processes and age-related diseases and disabilities.
November 16, 2012
The University of Colorado and the Boettcher Foundation are pleased to announce the 2013 Boettcher Foundation Webb-Waring Biomedical Research Awards Program. The program supports early career investigators whose research has a direct impact on human health.
October 24, 2012
A University of Colorado Boulder-led team has discovered two prime targets of the Hepatitis B virus in liver cells, findings that could lead to treatment of liver disease in some of the 400 million people worldwide currently infected with the virus.
October 19, 2012
Life is an emergent property, something more than the sum of its parts, the irreducible product of complex relationships between inanimate components. After all, we are made of the same stuff as the dead matter around us. But how are we so different? An analysis of our bodies the minute before versus the minute after we die would not show many differences in our atomic, molecular and cellular composition. But the relational status at every level of organization would be drastically different. It's the relationships among our parts that keep us breathing, eating, thinking and loving.
October 17, 2012
Jared Polis who represents the district that includes the University of Colorado at Boulder visited MCDB on Wednesday October 17th. He came to learn about National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health supported local research.
October 15, 2012
Growing demands for skilled scientists and general science literacy have prompted scientists, educators, and policy leaders to issue several national calls for improving undergraduate science education.
October 10, 2012
The Functional Genomics Facility has undergone several exciting changes in recent months and these impressive updates will enhance your research.
October 8, 2012
The Provost's Faculty Achievement Awards are presented annually to selected faculty who have offered recent significant publication or creative contributions in their academic fields.
September 26, 2012
At first glance, the tumor-suppressor gene p53 would seem like an ideal weapon against cancer. It puts the brakes on cancer progression and is impaired in about half of human tumors.
In mouse models of cancer, HHMI investigators Tyler Jacks and Scott Lowe restored p53 activity in tumors and the tumors regressed. However, p53 activation kills some cancer cells, but not others, and no one knows why. HHMI early career scientist Joaquín Espinosa has set his sights on finding an answer, and with it, a strategy for making p53-based therapies effective. It’s a goal he’s pursued with relentless passion.
July 05, 2012
Down syndrome research hub based at CU School of Medicine
Nationally renowned molecular biologist Tom Blumenthal, Ph.D, has been named the new executive director of the Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome, headquartered at the University of Colorado School of Medicine on the CU Anschutz Medical Campus.