Derbyshire, Fighting Malaria in the Classroom and in the Lab. Trinity College of Arts and Sciences recently published an article on Emily Derbyshire, Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Secondary MGM Faculty Member, focusing on how she wants to help people – and she wants to do it at scale. Derbyshire’s focus in the classroom is overcoming the fear chemistry inspires in many students. Derbyshire quotes, “I try to remove any intimidation or preconceived notions about how hard it is. I think sometimes people just never had the opportunity to be taught in a way that was accessible.” To read the full article please click here.

photo of Carlos, Victor, and MaribelCongratulations to Dr. Victor Garre, Professor of Genetics at the University of Murcia and his two Ph.D. students, Maribel Navarro Mendoza and Carlos Perez Arques, for receiving the Fleming Award for a recent article published in Current Biology on discovering the centormeres of Mucor.  The Fleming Award is granted by the Spanish Society of Microbiology (SEM).  With the receipt of the award, one of the authors is invited to give the closing plenary talk at the upcoming XV National Conference on Mycology.  This meeting is being postponed until 2022 because of the COVID-19 crisis.  Click here to read the paper.  This paper was a collaboration between several investigators including Dr. Joseph Heitman and Dr. Kaustuv Sanyal.

Derbyshire: 2020 Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar. Congratulations to Emily Derbyshire, Assistant Professor of Chemistry and secondary MGM Faculty member, on being awarded a 2020 Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award. The Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Awards Program supports the research and teaching careers of talented young faculty in the chemical sciences. Based on institutional nominations, the program provides discretionary funding to faculty at an early stage in their careers. Criteria for selection include an independent body of scholarship attained in the early years of their appointment, and a demonstrated commitment to education, signaling the promise of continuing outstanding contributions to both research and teaching.

The Derbyshire lab combines chemical biology, biochemistry and genomics to uncover complex biological processes in pathogenic parasites with the long-term goal of advancing therapeutic design. Through an integrative approach utilizing small molecule probes, gene sequencing technologies, proteomics and high-throughput screening, their efforts have discovered parasite and host processes involved in Plasmodium parasite infection. Their findings highlight the dependence of Plasmodium on host factors and reveal parasite vulnerabilities that may be leveraged for future disease control efforts.

Ko promoted to Associate Professor with tenure. Please join in congratulating Dennis Ko, whose promotion to Associate Professor with tenure was just approved by the Duke Board of Trustees. This is terrific and richly deserved news, and MGM is very fortunate to have Dennis as a colleague. Ko joined the faculty of Duke Molecular Genetics & Microbiology in 2012, his research program is advancing in science and with translational potential to impact medicine as well.

The Ko lab discovers fundamental insights in host-pathogen interactions and susceptibility to infectious disease by using both human and pathogen genetic diversity. Ko pioneered genome-wide association studies of cellular infection traits more than a decade ago with the Hi-HOST platform (High-throughout Human in vitrO Susceptibility Testing). His lab has used Hi-HOST, experimental dissection, and translational studies to make discoveries regarding the role of methylthioadenosine (MTA) in regulation of inflammation and sepsis, human genetic variation and Salmonella invasion and typhoid fever risk, and human genetic regulation of C. trachomatis infection. They have also expanded Hi-HOST to various bacterial, fungal, protozoal and viral pathogens and made data publicly available: They have also had success in leveraging pathogen variation to discover a Salmonella secreted effector that mimics the cytosolic domain of an activated cytokine receptor to turn on STAT3 and that diverse intracellular pathogens evolved convergent mechanisms of CXCL10 suppression for immune evasion. Ultimately, the Ko lab utilizes a unique perspective to reveal critical genes and pathways with the goal of enabling development of new biomarkers and therapies.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Dennis is leading his research program while homeschooling his two children while his wife treats patients at Durham Regional Hospital. While at home, he taught his son how to ride a bike, observed 4 planets and 3 of the moons of Jupiter through their backyard telescope, supervised the construction of the Saturn V rocket (in Lego form), invented marshmallow nutter butters, and helped take down their Christmas tree in April. Members of his lab in this time defended a thesis, submitted an F31, remotely taught a college microbiology class, analyzed various omics datasets, worked on manuscripts, and fostered a dog.

Heitman joins American Academy of Arts & Sciences (AAAS). Please congratulate Joseph Heitman, Chair and James B. Duke Distinguished Professor of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, on being elected as a member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences (AAAS) for 2020. He is among 276 artists, scholars, scientists and leaders honored this year.

Founded in 1780, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences honors excellence and convenes leaders from every field of human endeavor to examine new ideas, address issues of importance to the nation and the world, and work together, as expressed in our charter, “to cultivate every art and science which may tend to advance the interest, honor, dignity, and happiness of a free, independent, and virtuous people.” Our studies have helped set the direction of research and analysis in science and technology policy, global security and international affairs, social policy, education, and the humanities.

Heitman states “It is a humbling honor to be elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, and a testament to being surrounded by highly talented lab members, colleagues, and collaborators who made this success possible.  Also especially touching to share this honor with a stellar cadre of Duke colleagues who were also elected to the academy from across the university this year”.

A message from Nancy C. Andrews:

“We congratulate these incoming members of the Academy for excelling in a broad array of fields; we want to celebrate them and learn from them,” said Nancy C. Andrews, Chair of the Board of Directors of the American Academy. “When Academy members come together, bringing their expertise and insights to our work, they help develop new insights and potential solutions for some of the most complex challenges we face.” The Academy’s projects and publications are focused on the arts and humanities, democracy and justice, education, global affairs, and science.

To read more click here.

Congratulations to Sue Jinks-Robertson, Ph.D., Mary Bernheim Distinguished Professor, Effective July 1, 2020. Duke University has awarded distinguished professorships to 29 faculty members from eight Duke colleges and schools, with Sue Jinks-Robertson, Ph.D. being one of these faculty members from the School of Medicine. In recognition of her research accomplishments and her contributions as a mentor and administrator, Sue Jinks-Robertson was recently appointed the Mary Bernheim Distinguished Professor. Sue has been a leader and, arguably THE leader, in determining the mechanisms responsible for cellular mutagenesis. She showed that the rate of mutagenesis was elevated by transcription, and further demonstrated that some of the mutations were associated with the activity of Topoisomerase 1. Her studies also clarified the role of the error-prone DNA polymerase zeta in spontaneous and UV-induced mutagenesis. In addition to her studies of mutagenesis, Sue developed a system to analyze heteroduplex formation during mitotic recombination; she found that the current accepted models of recombination are inadequate to explain the observed patterns. She has been a superb citizen of the scientific community: serving on multiple NIH study sections, organizing meetings, acting as a member of editorial boards, and being a member of the Board of Directors of the Genetics Society of America. She has been a wonderful mentor and role model for individuals at all levels: undergraduates, graduate students, post-doctoral researchers, and beginning faculty members. She is Director of the Cell and Molecular Biology graduate program, co-Director of the Cancer Genetics and Genomics Program of the Duke Cancer Institute, and co-Vice Chair of MGM. Her award of the Mary Bernheim Distinguish Professorship is a well-deserved acknowledgement of her many accomplishments.

As a woman scientist, it is a particular honor to be named a Mary Bernheim Distinguished Professor.  Mary Bernheim was one of the original faculty members of the Duke Medical School when it was established in 1930 (Biochemistry Department) and is best known for her discovery of monoamine oxidase (MAO) while a graduate student at Cambridge.  She helped pave the way for other women to pursue academic careers at a time when such appointments were few and far between.

This is terrific recognition of Sue’s myriad accomplishments in science, and her broad contributions to leadership, mentorship, education, and administration. Sue’s contributions are very much valued, and appreciated. Being named a distinguished professor is a signature and capstone accomplishment, and we in MGM are proud and honored to have Sue as our esteemed colleague.

Mary Bernheim was a highly illustrious Duke faculty member, and her discovery of monoamine oxidase has been hailed as “one of the seminal discoveries of 20th century neuroscience”.
She has a wikipedia entry that has a lot of further information about her life and accomplishments:

The drugs that have been developed to target the enzyme she discovered are legion, and have been very widely used in medicine.

Please Congratulate Sue on this spectacular recognition.