News

Carolyn Coyne Raphael ValdiviaCoyne and Valdivia named Distinguished Professors

Two MGM faculty have been awarded distinguished professorships by Duke University. Appointment to a distinguished professorship is the highest honor the university can bestow upon a member of the faculty, recognizing faculty who are well-established members of the Duke academic community and who have also achieved distinction as creative scholars in their field or in their ability to transcend disciplines.

Carolyn Coyne, PhD, has been named George Barth Geller Distinguished Professor of Immunology.

Raphael Valdivia, PhD, has been named Nanaline H. Duke Distinguished Professor of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology.

To learn more about the 2022 honorees, click here.

John RawlsRawls research featured in Duke Today

The microbes that help break down food actually tell the gut how to do its job better, according to a new study in mice from John Rawls, PhD, and his lab. It appears that the microbes are able to influence which of the gut’s genes are being called into action, and in turn, that interaction might lead to a remodeling of the epithelial cells lining the gut so that they match the diet. To learn more, click here.

Raphael ValdiviaValdivia to serve as interim chair of Immunology

Effective August 1, 2022, Raphael Valdivia, PhD, Nanaline H. Duke Distinguished Professor of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology and former Vice Dean for Basic Science for School of Medicine, will take on the role of interim chair of the Department of Immunology. In this role, Dr. Valdivia will form and chair a task force that will be charged with helping set a course for the future to ensure Duke’s preeminence in immunology and its intersection with other scientific areas of study.

Lee DolatLee Dolat wins JCS Prize

Lee Dolat (Valdivia lab) is the winner of the 2021 JCS Prize for his paper entitled “An endometrial organoid model of interactions between Chlamydia and epithelial and immune cells” (Dolat and Valdivia, 2021).

The prize of £1000 is awarded annually to the first author of the paper that is judged by the Editors to be the best eligible paper published in the Journal of Cell Science that year. To be considered for the prize, the first author must be a student or a postdoc of no more than five years standing. To learn more, click here.

Kris MathewsMathews promoted to Chief Administrative Officer

Kris Mathews has been promoted by the School of Medicine from Senior Business Manager to Administrative Director, with a new working title: Chief Administrative Officer in the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology. This is a richly deserved promotion in recognition of Kris’ myriad contributions to the success of both MGM and the School of Medicine.

Kris arrived with nearly 20 years of previous research administration and financial management experience when she joined MGM and Duke in March of 2015. In her positions at Duke, she has served as Grants and Contracts Administrator and Financial Analyst II before assuming the Senior Business Manager position in January 2020. As Chief Administrative Officer of MGM, Kris will continue to provide overall administrative leadership for our highly productive department, including coordination of support for MGM faculty and labs, managing departmental finances and budgets, grant administration, space and facilities planning, and policy interpretation. Kris oversees 13 MGM administrative team members, and together they support our MGM community and mission of outstanding research, training, and education. We are deeply indebted to Kris for her administrative leadership, acumen, and sage advice and vision, and to her team of their dedication and service that contribute to the success of the department at every level. Please join us in congratulating Kris on this richly deserved promotion and in thanking her for her dedication to excellence and success of the department.

Nick Heaton Dong YanHeaton and Yan promoted to Associate Professor with tenure

Please join in congratulating Nick Heaton and Dong Yan, whose promotions to Associate Professor with tenure were recently approved by the Duke Board of Trustees. The promotions are richly deserved, and MGM is very fortunate to have Nick and Dong as colleagues. Yan joined the faculty of Duke Molecular Genetics & Microbiology in 2014, and Heaton joined in 2015.

The Yan lab‘s research focuses on understanding mechanisms underlying neuronal development, regeneration, and degeneration. They use a free-living tiny roundworm, called Caenorhabditis elegans, as a model. The defined cell lineage, completely mapped connectome and rapid life cycle of this organism greatly facilitate investigating nervous system at the subcellular resolution. Using cutting edge laser axotomy, live imaging, and genetic and genome editing approaches, they address questions related to neurons and glia in development and aging.

The Heaton lab is primarily interested in the study of respiratory RNA viruses. They have published work on viruses of the families: orthomyxoviridae, paramyxoviridae, and coronaviridae. In particular, the lab’s current work is focused on the orthomyxovirus influenza A, as well as the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, as these are the viruses that have caused, and remain capable of causing, global pandemics.

Aruna Menon Jessica PortilloAruna Menon and Jessica Portillo receive honorable mentions from NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program
Aruna Menon (Tobin Lab) and Jessica Portillo were among only five students in the School of Medicine to receive honorable mentions for 2022 from the NSF GRFP. Launched in 1952, the NSF GRFP is the oldest graduate fellowship of its kind. It funds outstanding graduate students pursuing PhD or research master’s degrees in NSF-supported Science, Technology, Math, and Engineering (STEM) disciplines. To read more about Duke SOM students and the NSF GRFP, click here.

For past news articles please click here.