The ‘Innate Immunity, Inflammation, and Disease Symposium’ will be held May 23rd 2018, in the Great Hall of the Trent Semans Building. Registration will be required and is free. The event is open to all faculty, students, and staff. The program is being finalized and an update will follow soon.

The North Carolina Microbiome Consortium is pleased to announce that it will hold its second inagural Microbiome Symposium on May 15th, 2018 at the NC Biotechnology Center in RTP. Please mark your calendars for a full day of industry and academic talks, networking and student poster sessions. Registration will open in the coming months.

Duke researchers are 1% of the top 1% of most cited researchersThe Chronicle published an article with this information that includes two MGM faculty in the list. Bryan Cullen, PhD, and Georgia Tomaras, PhD, are in the top 34 researchers listed out of 3400 in their respective fields, according to a report released by Clarivate Analytics. We asked Dr. Cullen and Dr. Tomaras their thoughts on this list. Dr. Cullen said, “When you perform biomedical research, you of course want the resultant manuscripts to be widely read and to then influence the research performed by other groups. The fact that the research performed by my group has been cited in over 21,000 articles published by other scientists is very gratifying, as it shows that our research has indeed had a significant impact”. Dr. Tomaras added, “What stands out most to me are the technical staff, graduate students and postdocs who are the scientists in the lab every day making the experiments happen. Communication of scientific results through publication is a key part of scientific progress. One important driver of scientific progress is the strong day to day collaborations within and across the Departments in concert with the research institute model. In my case, this is with the Departments of Surgery, Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, Immunology, Medicine, and the Duke Human Vaccine Institute.” Congratulations on this recognition of your hard work!

Claire De March’s book chapter is published. Claire De March‘s research, in Hiroaki Matsunami’s lab, focuses on understanding the complexity of olfaction at the molecular level. Using computer tools, cell biology, and sensory analysis, she hopes to help elucidate the strategy of our organism to perceive its volatile environment. She wants to establish the link between the chemical structure of an odor molecule, the biological processes involved, and the sensation it causes. Claire was honored in 2016 with “5 best Ph.D. thesis awards” from international foundations and the most impressive one is from the French newspaper, “Le Monde”. She wrote a book chapter with Cédric Villani, the Fields medal 2010 and member of the National Assembly of the French government. This book was published in November 2017.

David Martinez, a PhD candidate in the Permar lab, has received two highly prestigious fellowships. He was awarded an NIAID Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) Individual Predoctoral Fellowship (F31) and a Burroughs Wellcome Fund Graduate Diversity Enrichment award. These awards will fund research projects involving factors that regulate the placental transfer of maternal IgG and mechanisms of HIV virus escape from maternal neutralizing antibodies. Congratulations David!

MGM Assistant Professor, Lawrence David, was selected for a Damon Runyon Innovation Award. The Damon Runyon-Rachleff Innovation Award is designed to provide support for the next generation of exceptionally creative thinkers with “high-risk/high-reward” ideas that have the potential to significantly impact our understanding of and/or approaches to the prevention, diagnosis or treatment of cancer.

Former MGM faculty member, Hunt Willard, is named Director of the Geisinger National Precision Health Initiative: https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/geisinger-launches-national-precision-health-initiative-300555595.html

Katelyn Walzer, MGM Graduate Student wins ASTMH Young Investigator Award. The purpose of the ASTMH Young Investigator’s Award is to recognize the work of young investigators and to encourage developing scientists to pursue careers in various aspects of tropical disease research. Katelyn was one of 5 winners among over 80 applicants. She is pictured here with ASTMH President, Patricia Walker and other recipients of the 2017 award. See the complete list of past winners here. Congratulations, Katelyn!

People with malaria give off a distinctive “breath-print”Prof Audrey Odom John, PhD, the first Duke Undergraduate Student to work in the laboratory of Dr. Joseph Heitman, James B. Duke Professor and Chair of the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology has researched and developed a prototype breath test to detect malaria. Read more about Dr. Odom’s prototype here.

MGM’s newest faculty member is Craig Lowe, PhD. We are looking forward to Craig’s arrival to MGM in the Spring of 2018 from Stanford University. Read more about Craig here.

Tobin receives 2017-2018 Thomas Langford Lectureship Award – David Tobin, PhD, Associate Professor of MGM presented a lecture about his research at the annual Langford Lectureship series on October 23, 2017. This luncheon series was designed to provide Duke’s faculty with an opportunity to hear about ongoing scholarly activities of recently promoted or hired colleagues. Congratulations, David! See pictures here.

Congratulations to Dr. Emily Derbyshire for receiving the New Innovator Award. The NIH Director’s New Innovator award supports exceptionally creative early career investigators who propose innovative, high-impact projects. The Derbyshire lab has utilized novel strategies to identify host liver factors that are involved in Plasmodium infection. Through these studies, they found that the parasite’s liver stages have vulnerabilities that are distinct from their blood-infective forms. To better understand liver stage vulnerabilities, they propose to dissect the underlying mechanisms of host factor involvement in parasitic survival using an integrative multidisciplinary approach. Their work will advance the current understanding of host-parasite interactions during malaria’s elusive liver stage and will provide starting points for host-based antimalarial therapies to surmount the challenge of parasite drug resistance.

Congratulations to Dr. Bill Steinbach who received the 2017 ID Oswald Avery Award. The Oswald Avery Award recognizes outstanding achievement in infectious diseases by a member or fellow of IDSA who is 45 or younger. See the full article here.

In a study published September 26 in eLife, Duke researchers from the Heitman Lab show that lineages of the fungal pathogen Cryptococcus deuterogattii house a specific mutation in their DNA that increases their mutation rate. These ‘hypermutators,’ as they are called, rapidly develop resistance to the antifungal drugs FK506 and rapamycin. See the full article here.

Michael N. Hall was awarded the 2017 Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award for discoveries in relation to Nutrient-activated TOR proteins that regulate cell growth.
Michael N. Hall of the Biocenter at the University of Basel discovered the nutrient-activated TOR proteins and their central role in the metabolic control of cell growth.  By showing that the TOR system adjusts cell size in response to the availability of raw materials, Michael N. Hall revealed an unanticipated linchpin of normal cell physiology. More…

Non-coding alpha satellite RNAs are essential for human centromere assembly and cell cycle progression. New research from Shannon McNulty, a Duke MGM graduate student in Beth Sullivan’s lab, is featured in the August 7 issue of Developmental Cell. The study reports the crucial role of chromosome-specific non-coding RNAs produced from highly repetitive alpha satellite DNA at human centromeres and their interaction with key centromere and kinetochore proteins. The work is highlighted by a Preview published in the same issue of Developmental Cell.The primary research article can be accessed here.

Al Harding (Heaton Lab) – A feature on Al’s work was just published on DukeTODAY! It describes how our technology can be used to produce improved influenza virus vaccines. https://eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-07/du-nvp072417.php

Ristaino receives a Fullbright Award.  Jean Ristaino, William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor at North Carolina State University in the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology received a Fullbright U.S. Research Scholar Award. Jean conducted sabbatical studies in the Heitman lab and us continuing to collaborate with Francis Fang in the Heitman lab on oomycete pathogens of plants. Read more here.

Rawls and Davison feature in Duke today. John Rawls, PhD, Associate Professor and James Davison, Graduate Student in the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology recent publication, “Microbiota regulate intestinal epithelial gene expression by suppressing the transcription factor Hepatocyte nuclear factor 4 alpha” was featured in Duke today. Read more about the research here.

Tobin receives 2017-2018 Thomas Langford Lectureship Award – David Tobin, PhD, Associate Professor of MGM will present a lecture about his research at the annual Langford Lectureship series. This luncheon series was designed to provide Duke’s faculty with an opportunity to hear about ongoing scholarly activities of recently promoted or hired colleagues. Congratulations, David!

Horner receives ASV award. Stacy Horner, PhD, Assistant Professor in the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology received the Ann Palmenberg Junior Investigator Award from the American Society for Virology at the 2017 annual meeting in Madison, and presented a talk in conjunction with receiving the award.  This award recognizes junior investigators who have made significant contributions to the field of virology and who display exceptional promise. The award is named in honor of former ASV president Dr. Ann Palmenberg, University of Wisconsin-Madison, for her tireless efforts over several decades in supporting and continually improving our society’s annual meeting.  Stacy and her lab members have launched an exciting research program on mechanisms of innate immunity that defend against viral infection, and in parallel launched a highly successful pioneering program studying the impact of the modification of the N6 position of adenine by methylation on both viral and host RNA, studies that have resulted in a landmark publication in Cell Host and Microbe and featured on the cover (Gokhale et al CHM 2016) and a recent PLOS Pearls on this topic (Gokhale and Horner, PLOS Pathogens 2017).  These later studies contribute to the rapidly growing, emerging field of epitranscriptomics.  Congratulations, Stacy!

Aballay receives an NIH R37 Merit AwardAlejandro Aballay, PhD, Professor in the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology and Director of the Center for Host Microbial Interactions at Duke University, will be receiving an NIH MERIT Award from NIGMS for his research project on the role of the nervous system in controlling immunity in the model host C. elegans. More…

Horner named a Burroughs Wellcome Investigator.  Stacy Horner, PhD was awarded the Burroughs Wellcome 2017 Investigators in the Pathogenesis of Infectious Diseases award.