NEWS

2017

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 Award. Alejandro 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. The Investigators in the Pathogenesis of Infectious Disease program provides opportunities for assistant professors to bring multidisciplinary approaches to the study of human infectious diseases. The goal of the program is to provide opportunities for accomplished investigators still early in their careers to study what happens at the points where the systems of humans and potentially infectious agents connect.  Read more about this prestigious award on the Burroughs Wellcome website.  Congratulations, Stacy!

Reese named a Harvard Junior Fellow.  Aspen Reese, an UPE graduate student in Lawrence David’s lab, will be a Harvard Junior Fellow 2017-2020. Founded in 1933 by former Harvard President A. Lawrence Lowell, Class of 1877, the society has offered junior fellows academic freedom and the opportunity to take intellectual risks ever since. Lawrence David was also a Harvard Junior fellow. More information about this society can be found here. Additional articles: The Crimson – Party of Eight and The Crimson-High Society.

Silver and Tobin promoted to Associate Professor. Debra Silver, PhD and David Tobin, PhD were both promoted to Associate Professors effective July 1, 2017. Congratulations to both of them!

The Ruth and A. Morris Williams, Jr. Faculty Research Prize was given to David M. Tobin, PhD, Assistant Professor of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology Presented by Nancy C. Andrews, MD, PhD, Dean of the School of Medicine and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, the Ruth and A. Morris Williams, Jr. Faculty Research Prize was established in May 2001 by Duke University Trustee Emeritus, A. Morris Williams, Jr., T’62, MA’63, and his wife Ruth Whitmore Williams, WC’63. It is presented annually to a faculty member at the Duke University School of Medicine who demonstrates the intellectual vigor, dedication, and scientific ingenuity needed to make a critical impact on the future of medical research.

Gokhale receives the AHA Perdoctoral Fellowship. Nandan Gokhale, an MGM graduate student in Stacy Horner’s lab, received the American Heart Association Predoctoral Fellowship. The objective of this fellowship is to empower postdoctoral trainees who are not yet independent with individualized, mentored assistance and training to initiate careers in cardiovascular and stroke research.

Mitchell-Dick awarded and F31Aaron Mitchell-Dick, a Cell Biology graduate student in Debra Silver’s lab, received an F31 from NINDS.

Petes Fest: Celebrating Dr. Tom Petes’s 70th Birthday.  Petes Fest: April 29, 2017 at the Hilton Garden Inn, RTP.  A celebration of Tom’s 70th birthday and his illustrious career. (Petes-fest schedule)

Aballay and Valdivia promoted to Full Professor. Alejandro Aballay, PhD and Raphael Valdivia, PhD were both promoted to Full professor this past year.  Alejandro is the Director or the Center for Host Microbial Interactions and a member of the Faculty Honors Committee.  Raphael is Vice Dean of Basic Science and formerly the Director of Graduate Student Studies for the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology.  Alejandro’s promotion was effective as of June 1, 2016.  Raphael’s promotion was effective March 1, 2017.  Congratulations to both of them!

Aballay and Valdivia elected fellows of American Academy of Microbiology.  Professors of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology Alejandro Aballay, PhD and Raphael Valdivia, PhD, were recently elected as fellows of the American Academy of Microbiology, an honorific leadership group within American Society of Microbiology.  More…

Cullen and Su receive the Duke/UNC CTSA collaborative Pilot Award.   Bryan Cullen, PhD (Duke) and Lishan Su, PhD (UNC) receive the NIH Clinical and Transnational Science Awards (CTSA) for research on chronic hepatitis and anit-viral treatements.  More…

2016

Martinez awarded ASM Robert D. Watkins Graduate Research Fellowship.  The American Society for Microbiology (ASM) has selected David Martinez, a graduate student in Dr. Sallie Permar’s laboratory, as a 2016-2019 award recipient of the ASM Robert D. Watkins Graduate Research Fellowship.  More…

Neural stem cells serve as RNA highways too.  Debra Silver, Ph.D., and assistant professor of molecular genetics and microbiology recently published a paper in Current Biology.  The research was featured in Duke Today and on the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences.  To read the published manuscript, “Dynamic mRNA Transport and Local Translation in Radial Glial Progenitors of the Developing Brain,” Louis-Jan Pilaz, Ashley L. Lennox, Jeremy P. Rouanet, Debra L. Silver. Current Biology, December 19, 2016. DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2016.10.040, click here.

Rawls named AAAS Fellow.  John F. Rawls, Ph.D., an associate professor of molecular genetics and microbiology in the Medical School is being recognized in the AAAS section on Biological Sciences for his “distinguished contributions to the field of symbiosis, particularly using zebrafish as a gnotobiotic host model to identify mechanisms underlying host-microbiota interactions in the intestine.” His research is focused on host-microbe interactions in the gut that regulate immunity, digestion and energy balance.  AAAS Anouncement. Duke Chronicle Article.

Breast Cancer Cells Starve for Cystine. Ashley Chi, MD, PhD  recently published a paper reporting that cells from a vicious and treatment-resistant form of breast cancer, called triple negative breast cancer (TNBC), die off rapidly when deprived of a key nutrient called cystine.  Breast cancer is a collection of different types of cancer subtypes. Among different breast cancer subtypes, we don’t have effective treatment for triple negative breast cancer that lack any of the targets we use to target cancer cells. In this study, we have found that the triple negative breast cancer cannot live without the import of the cysteine, an non-essential amino acids. Therefore, the removal or blockage of cysteine import into cancer cells may help patients with triple negative breast cancer.The research was featured in Duke Today.  Read the full article here.  The research was featured in Duke Today.  Read the full article here.

The Minute Marvels, Computing the Structure of Smell.  Claire de March, PhD was featured a 60 second video on the Duke Research Computing website.  Claire studies how we detect smells and the molecular structures that accomplish the work of disclosing odors to our consciousness.  Watch the video here.

Odom received the Emerging Leader Award.  Audrey Odom John, MD, PhD, was awarded the emerging Leader Award from the Duke Medical Alumni Association at the Medical Alumni Reunion in November.  Audrey also presented a seminar talk with the MGM Thursday Seminar Series on November 10, 2016.  Watch Audrey’s video here.

Hu selected for a Graduate Fellowship in Neurosceinces sponsored by the Trice family. Xiaoyang Serene Hu is a graduate student in the department of Molecular Genetics & Microbiology. Her dissertation research focuses on receptor-ligand interactions underlying olfactory-mediated innate fear. Anxiety disorders affect nearly 18% of adults in the United States and a significant portion of them experience uncontrollable states of chronic fear-related anxiety. The etiology of the disorder is considered to be influenced by both innate and learned mechanisms of fear. The identification of receptors responsible for innate-fear behavior could be applied to future studies to examine how instinctive emotions are organized and regulated in the mammalian brain and help formulate modern emotion theories.

Zika and the mystery of microcephaly. Debby Silver, PhD and Stacy Horner, PhD were featured in a radio interview on 88.5 WFDD. Listen to the interview here.

Genetic causes of small head size share common mechanism. Debby Silver, PhD was recently featured in Duke Today about a recent study of genetic microcephaly in mice that may reveal insights into Zika-based microcephaly. To read the full article on Duke Today click here. To read the published paper in PLOS Genetics, click here.

Can Scientists Really Harness the Poliovirus to Kill Cancer?  Dr. Matthias Gromeier, MD was recently featured in DukeForward.  Dr. Gromeier created a modified poliovirus that was awarded “breakthrough therapy” status from the Food and Drug Administration.  The modified virus has shown dramatic success in a small number of adults with aggressive brain cancer. Dr. Gromeier was also featured on 60  minutes on CBS on March 29th, 2015.  You may read the article here. Please visit CBSNews to watch the 60 minute video.

Horner featured in Duke Today.  Chemical tags affect ability of RNA viruses to infect cells.  Dr. Stacy Horner, PhD recently published a paper in Cell Host Microbe entitled, “N6-methyladenosine in Flaviviridae viral RNA genomes regulates infection”and was featured in an article published in Duke today.  Read the full article here.   Read the published paper here.  This story was also featured on the cover of Cell Host & Microbe.  On the cover: The RNA modification N6-methyladenosine (m6A) post-transcriptionally regulates RNA function and structure. In this issue, Gokhale et al. (pp. 654–665) and Lichinchi et al. (pp. 666–673) demonstrate that flavivirus infection results in m6A alterations in both viral and host mRNAs that regulate virus production. Mapping of the hepatitis C virus and Zika virus genomes reveals specific regions modified by m6A. Additionally, dampening the expression of m6A methyltransferases or m6A demethylases, respectively, increases or decreases HCV and Zika virus particle production, highlighting the importance of this pathway in controlling flaviviruses. The cover illustration is an artistic rendition of RNA modifications such as m6A leading to divergent viral RNA functions and fates. Image credit: Falguni Gokhale.

Mouse Study Shows How “Hair-of-the-Dog” Approach Works to Treat Allergies. Rush desensitization is a clinical procedure employed on allergic subjects to increase their tolerance to life threatening allergens. The procedure involves administering increasing doses of specific allergens to the patient over a short period of time. This procedure is often applied on patients who react adversely to essential antibiotics and chemotherapeutic drugs. Although this procedure has been utilized for over a century, its underlying mechanism has largely remained elusive. Soman Abraham and colleagues now report that the cellular target of rush desensitization is the mast cell and reveal the underlying events leading to its inactivation.  More…

Lawrence David, PhD, Named one of Science News Ten Scientists to Watch. Lawrence David, PhD,  Assistant Professor of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology was named one of Science News “10 Scientists to Watch” because of his extensive research of the microbiome. His lab works to to understand, predict, and manipulate how human microbiota behave over time.  More…

Villa awarded a Burroughs Wellcome Fund Fellowship.  Max Villa was one of 15 postdoctoral scholars selected to receive the 2016 Postdoctoral Enrichment Program Award from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund.  The fellowship grants a total of $60,000 over three years to support the career development of underrepresented minorities conducting postdoctoral research in the US and Canada. Read more in Duke Today.

Sullivan and team featured in Duke Today Variation in the coding region of the human genome is linked to changes in gene expression and disease and is an area of intense investigation. Conversely, few studies have focused on non-coding, repetitive DNA, sometimes called “junk” DNA because it was originally thought to have little impact on genome function. Beth Sullivan, PhD and her lab now report in Genome Research  that genomic variation in highly repetitive alpha satellite DNA influences the physical location of centromere assembly and has a direct impact on chromosome stability. Read more about this study in Duke Today.

Pilaz appointed a Duke Regeneration Next Fellow.  Louis-Jan Pilaz, PhD (Silver Lab) was appointed a Duke Regeneration Next Fellow, one of 4 postdoctoral associates part of the inaugural cohort. This group of scholars will help shape and grow the regeneration science community at Duke.  The fellowship with partially support his salary for the next two years.  Regeneration Next was launched in 2016 by the School of Medicine to bring faculty, trainees, and staff together to advance discovery research and education.  Directed by Ken Poss, PhD, Regeneration Next supports eight research programs, each dedicated to a specialty within the field of stem cell and regenerative medicine, and a graduate program focused on developmental and stem cell biology.  [Announcement]

Billmyre, Esher, and Kelliher awarded an Interdisciplinary Colloquia initiative. Blake Billmyre (Heitman Lab), Shannon Esher (Alspaugh Lab), and Tina Kelliher (Haase Lab) received an Interdisciplinary Colloquia initiative for the Eukaryotic Pathogenesis Investigator Club (EPIC). EPIC was established in 2015 with the goal of fostering interactions among scientists studying eukaryotic pathogens at Duke and in the Triangle area. Despite the wide variety of laboratories studying mycology and parasitology at Duke, EPIC is the only seminar series focused broadly on eukaryotic pathogenesis. EPIC meets once monthly and consists of two research talks from faculty and trainees in the group, including members of the Tri-Institutional Molecular Mycology and Pathogenesis Training Program (Tri-I MMPTP). After a successful first year in which over 15 research groups at Duke and UNC-Chapel Hill Universities participated, EPIC applied for and was awarded $5000 from the School of Medicine to sustain and expand the series to include two invited outside speakers.

Aballay featured in Duke Today.  Alejandro Aballay, PhD and his members of his laboratory have shown that manipulating dopamine signaling in the nervous system in C. elegans has a direct impact on inflammation in the gut.  Read more in the newly released publication in Current Biology [Science Direct].  Access the Duke Today article here.

Yibin Kang, MGM Graduate Student alum, Cullen Lab, inducted into the Inaugural Class of Few-Glasson Society.  Yibin Kang, PhD, Professor of Molecular Biology at Princeton University is among three distinguished alumni  inducted into the Inaugural Class of the Duke Graduate School Few-Glasson Alumni Society.  Yibin is a former graduate student of Bryan Cullen’s laboratory and is currently a professor at Princeton University.  More…

Rawls awarded an Interdisciplinary Colloquia initiative. John Rawls received an Interdisciplinary Colloquia Initiative for the upcoming Duke Zebrafish Research Symposia. The Duke Zebrafish Research Symposia bring together basic science, transnational and clinical scientists from across the Duke campus utilizing the zebrafish to model diverse aspects of human health and disease. Supported programs include weekly research-in-progress meetings, an annual research symposium, and an annual principal investigator summit.  Dr. Rawls was awarded $5000 for a one year period to fund the symposia.

Johnathan Bethke awarded an appointment in IBIEM program.  Johnathan Bethke was awarded an appointment in the Integrative Bioinformatics for Investigating and Engineering Microbiomes (IBIEM) program led by Claudia Gunsch.  IBIEM is an interdisciplinary graduate training program between Duke University and North Carolina A&T State University which brings together scientists from various fields with an interest in microbiome research.

Abraham and colleagues featured in Duke Medicine news.  Over the past decade, Abraham and colleagues have led many studies analyzing the immune responses to urinary tract infections (UTIs). One area of interest was investigating how bladder epithelial cells combat urothopathogenic E.coli after these cells have been invaded by the pathogen. Their research revealed that bladder epithelial cells actively expelled most of the infecting bacteria without any cell lysis. Recently, they elucidated the underlying mechanism of bacterial export and showed that it involved the transport machinery normally utilized by cells to secrete hormones. This work was published in the journal Immunity.  More…

Martinez awarded 2016 ASM Robert D. Watkins Gradudate Research Fellowship. David Martinez, a graduate student in the Permar lab, has received a prestigious 2016 ASM Robert D. Watkins Graduate Research fellowship. This award given by the American Society of Microbiology (ASM) recognizes the “best and brightest rising scientists” based on the research proposals they submit and on their research excellence. David will investigate the determinants of maternal IgG transplacental transfer to HIV-exposed uninfected infants. The fellowship stipend is $21,000 per year accompanied by a travel award to ASM Microbe, grant writing workshops, and is awarded for up to three years.

A Little Dirt Won’t Hurt:  Lawrence David, John Rawls, Pat Seed, and other Duke microbiome researchers are featured in a Duke Magazine article. Read the article here.

Horner awarded the 2016 ICAAC Young Investigator Award.  Stacy Horner, PhD, was awarded the 2016 Young Investigator Award from the American Society for Microbiology.  this award is given to recognize and reward early career scientist for research excellence and potential in microbiology and infectious disease. Stacy was one of four awarded this prestigious award.

Coers named a 2016 Burroughs Wellcome Fund Investigator in the Pathogenesis of Infectious Disease.  Dr. Jörn Coers is one of ten recipients of the 2016 Burroughs Wellcome Fund Investigator in the Pathogenesis of Infectious Disease award sharing the ranks with Audrey Odom, MD, PhD, Duke MSTP alum and Nels Edle, PhD, the 2015 invited MGM Retreat Lecturer.  More…

Gartin, awarded the 2016 Edward C. Horn Memorial Prize for Excellence in Biology.  Ashley Gartin, undergraduate research in Dr. David Pickup’s lab received the 2016 Edward C. Horn Memorial Prize for Excellence in Biology on Sunday, May 15, 2016.  This award is given each year to a graduating biology major who has shown the highest level of academic achievement and promise. This prize is in memory of Edward C. Horn.

Steinbach award the top award from the American Federation of Medical Research (AFMR). William Steinbach, MD, professor of Pediatrics (Infectious Diseases) and professor of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, will receive the American Federation for Medical Research’s (AFMR) highest honor for medical research, the Outstanding Investigator Award.  More…  

Fungal Pathogen sheds gene silencing machinery to become more dangerous Blake Billmyre, a UPGG Graduate Student in the laboratory of Dr. Joseph Heitman, was recently featured in PHYS.ORG, Genomeweb, and Duke Today for his recently published article, “Gene network polymorphism illuminates loss and retention of novel RNAi silencing components in the Cryptococcus pathogenic species complex” in PLOS Genetics.

Heitman awarded the F1000 Faculty Member of the Year Award 2015  Joseph Heitman, MD, PhD, James. B Duke Professor and Chair of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, has received the 2015 F1000 Faculty Member of the Year Award for the Microbiology Faculty. This is the 4th time he was awarded this honor.  He also received the award in 2011, 2013, and 2014. More…

Tomaras selected for 2016 Ruth and A. Morris Williams Faculty Research Prize Georgia Tomaras, PhD Professor in Surgery, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, has been selected to receive the 2016 Ruth and A. Morris Williams Faculty Research Prize.  Tomaras is being honored for her outstanding contributions in clinical science research.  More…

Alspaugh selected for 2016 Gordon G. Hammes Faculty Teaching Award Andrew Alspaugh, MD, Professor of Infectious Diseases and Professor of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, has been selected to receive the 2016 Gordon G. Hammes Faculty Teaching Award.  Alspaugh is being honored for his continuing excellence in teaching and mentoring and for his exemplary commitment to the education of graduate students. More…

Steinbach, Alspaugh, and Wormley elected to Fellowship in the American Academy of Microbiology (AAM) William J. Steinbach, MD, professor of Pediatrics (Infectious Diseases) and professor of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, Andrew Alspaugh, MD, professor of Infectious Diseases and professor of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology and, Floyd Wormley, PhD, alumni of John Perfect’s lab and CHoMI were elected to Fellowship in the American Academy of Microbiology. The Academy recognizes excellence, originality, and leadership in the microbiological sciences. More…

The McGinnis Lecture Committee is very excited to announce that Dr. Bonnie Bassler will be giving the 38th annual Jim McGinnis Memorial Lecture on Thursday 3/17/16 at 4:00pm in 103 Bryan Research. More…

Keisha Findley, PhD, MGM graduate student alumnus visited Duke on Saturday, February 13th as an invited guest speaker at the 3rd  Annual Ida Stephens Owens Black Tie dinner presented by Duke University’s Bouchet Society. The Duke University Bouchet Society primarily supports underrepresented minority graduate students in the pursuit of scholarly excellence in the natural sciences, technology, engineering and math.  More…

The Duke Medical Alumni Association awarded Audrey Odom, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Molecular Microbiology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, an alumnus from Dr. Joseph Heitman’s lab and graduate of the Duke MSTP program, the 2016 Emerging Leader Award. A special awards dinner will be held during the Medical Alumni Weekend festivities. Audrey was recently asked to give a Ted Talk on Fighting drug resistant infections with your breath, which can be viewed here.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases recently awarded Sarah Jaslow a Fellowship Award (F31) for her project, “Characterization of a novel Salmonella regulator of IL-10 production and it’s role in pathogenesis.” Sarah is an MGM Graduate Student in Dennis Ko’s lab where she focuses her research on Host-Pathogen interactions, genetics, and translational medicine.

Nutrient Deprivation kills kidney cancer. Jen-Tsan Ashley Chi’s research was recently featured in a Duke Today article.  The Chi lab discovered a promising target for renal cell carcinomas. To read more about the article in Duke Today, click here.

Drug shows promise for controlling Epstein-Barr Virus. Drug shows promise for controlling Epstein-Barr Virus. Micah Luftig’s laboratory recently published a paper in PNAS finding that Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) uses autophagy as a means to compensate for metabolic stress to transform primary human B cells. The paper was featured in Duke Today. Click here to read the published article.

Slow Stem Cell Division May Cause Small Brains.  Published online on January 6 in the journal Neuron, Debby Silver and team figured out how microcephaly produces a much small brain than normal.  The article is featured in several sources including Medical Express and Duke Today.  Click here to read the published article.

The Calcineurin Symposium is scheduled for January 20, 2016 sponsored by the Tri-Institutional Molecular Mycology and Pathogenesis Training Program and the Duke Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology. The talks will be held in 143 Jones Building and lunch will be held in MSRB001.  More…

2015

Beth Sullivan named AAAS Fellow.  The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) named seven Duke Faculty as fellows in recognition of their contributions to innovation, education, and scientific leadership..  The story was featured on the GSA website, AAAS website, Duke School of Medicine website, and on Duke Today.

Hal Bogerd was awarded the Research Staff Appreciation Award in Basic Science by the School of Medicine.  Hal has been a key part of the foundation of MGM, and his partnerships with Bryan extremely successful.  Congratulations on winning such a prestigious award. More…

Alejandro Aballay was featured in a Duke Today news article on infertility worms resisting infection-induced neurodegeneration.  To read the full article, click here.

Rawls and David among the first to receive MEDx funding.  John Rawls, PhD and Lawrence David, PhD along with Claudia Gunsch, PhD received funding from MEDx their upcoming colloquia, “Microbiome Synthesis”.  More…

Heaton receives prestigious Whitehead Scholarship.  Nicholas Heaton, PhD, an assistant professor in the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, has received a three-year Whitehead Scholarship from the Duke School of Medicine. This highly prestigious award will provide stipend support for Heaton while working on his current research. More…

One step closer to a vaccine for cytomegalovirus: Monkeys transmit CMV the same way as humans.  Researchers, Sallie Permar, MD, PhD and Amitinder Kaur, MD now have a powerful new model for working on a vaccine for cytomegalovirus, or CMV, which is the leading infectious cause of birth defects worldwide.  More…

Joseph Heitman has received a Visiting International Professor grant from the University of Ruhr in Bochum Germany.  Dr. Heitman will spend several weeks over the next several years on working visits to collaborate, present research, and participate in graduate education.  His professorship nomination was sponsored by Ulrich Kück.  Visiting International Professor Grants are awarded only to researchers with outstanding scientific record and high international visibility to enable excellent international scientists to establish a sustainable research cooperation with Ruhr University Bochum while at the same time contributing to doctoral supervision and graduate education.

Molecular ‘Kiss Of Death’ flags pathogens for destruction.   Jörn Coers, senior author of a recent study discovering that our bodies mark pathogen-containing vacuoles for destruction by using a molecule called ubiquitin, commonly known as the “kiss of death”, was featured in a Duke Today article and on Science360 News.  More…

NSF awards $15 million to crack the olfactory code.  Hiroaki Matsunami was recently awarded an NSF grant to study the sense of smell.  Hiro is the Principle Investigator of the project titled: “Analysis of the mammalian olfactory code.” This project will investigate the process of odor recognition, focusing on how basic features of odor perception–odor identity and valence, which is the behavioral significance attached to an odor–are encoded in the brain. More…

Specific Fatty Acids May Worsen Crohn’s Disease.  Some research has suggested that omega-3 fatty acids, abundant in fish oils, can relieve inflammation in Crohn’s disease.  But a new study using software developed by Duke scientists hints that we should be paying closer attention to what the other omegas — namely, omega-6 and omega-7 — are doing to improve or worsen the disease.  More…

Duke researchers at the forefront of the field of immunotherapy are working toward applying a modified poliovirus to treat prostate and eventually breast cancer.  Dr. Matthias Gromeier, associate professor of neurosurgery at Duke, was the first to propose using poliovirus to destroy malignant tumors.  More…

The Alpha Omega Alpha (AOA) Medical Honor Society announced the 2015 new members, among them is Dr. William Steinbach, Professor of Pediatrics, Co-Director, Tri-Institutional Molecular Mycology and Pathogenesis Training Program.  Membership in AOA is a distinction that accompanies a physician throughout his or her career.  More…

Nicholas Heaton, PhD, joined the Duke University School of Medicine, Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology as an assistant professor in August 2015.  Nick’s current research is focused on Genetic engineering of influenza viruses to study viral pathogenesis.  More…

Lawrence David, PhD, Assistant Professor, has received a Beckman Young Investigator award from the The Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation.  The Beckman Young Investigator Program provides research support to “the most promising young faculty members in the early stages of academic careers in the chemical and life sciences,” according to the program guidelines. In particular, the award funds invention of “methods, instruments and materials that will open up new avenues of research in science.” Lawrence will receive a grant of $750,000 to support his research, “Using natural bacterial interactions to control microbial communities.”  To view a list of the 8 awardees, please click here.

Duke Medicine researchers have found that bladder cells have a highly effective way to combat E. coli bacteria that cause urinary tract infections (UTIs) [Miao et al., 2015].  In a study published online May 28, 2015, in the journal Cell, Duke researchers and their colleagues describe how bladder cells can physically eject the UTI-causing bacteria that manage to invade the host cell. More…

Debby Silver was recently featured in Science for her collaboration with Gregory Wray using mouse models to demonstrate brain development and evolution.  Please click here to view a PDF of the recently published article.

The selection committee has announced the 2015 MGM SURE awardees.  Congratulations to the following undergraduates:  Mawuli Attipoe, Horner Lab; Kimberline Chew, Sullivan Lab; Nick Donadio, Cardenas/Heitman Lab; Vinay Giri, Perfect Lab; Luke Glover, Ko Lab; Quang Nguyen, Permar Lab.  More…

The awards committee of the International Society for Human and Animal Mycology announces the selection of Dr. John Perfect as recipient of The 2015 Lucille K. Georg ISHAM Medal in recognition of his outstanding scientific achievement in the field of medical mycology and infections diseases. Dr. Perfect received the award at the 19th Congress of the International Society for Human and Animal Mycology meeting in Melbourne, Australia, May 4th – 8th, 2015.  More…

The Searle Scholars Program announced the 2015 awardees.  Fifteen young scientists in the chemical and biological sciences have been named 2015 Searle Scholars.  Lawrence David, PhD will be awarded $300,000 in flexible funding to support his work during the next three years. More…

The Hartwell Foundation today officially announced the winners of 2014 Hartwell Individual Biomedical Research Awards, which will provide support for three years at $100,000 direct cost per year.  Lawrence David, PhD and MGM Postdoctoral alumni Christina Hull, PhD received 2014 Hartwell Awards. More…

New Gene Influences Apple or Pear Shape, Risk of Future Disease
Scientists have known for some time that people who carry a lot of weight around their bellies are more likely to develop diabetes and heart disease than those who have bigger hips and thighs. But what hasn’t been clear is why fat accumulates in different places to produce these classic “apple” and “pear” shapes. More…

Gromeier, Abbruzzee Receive $300,000 Grant for Translational Pancreatic Cancer Research Matthias Gromeier, MD, and  James Abbruzzese, MD, have just received the 2015 Pancreatic Cancer Action Network Translational Research Grant, a two-year, $300,000 grant that supports translational research toward pancreatic cancer assessment, prevention, or treatment. More…

SEMMA THERAPEUTICS announces $44 Million funding led by MPG Capital to develop Cell Therapy for treating type 1 Diabetes; signs agreement with Global Pharmaceutical company. Semma Therapuetics was co-founded by former Research Assistant Felecia Pagliuca who is now the Director of Technology and Corporate Development.  More…

Searle Scholars Program announced the 2015 awardees.  Fifteen young scientists in the chemical and biological sciences have been named 2015 Searle Scholars. Lawrence David, PhD will be awarded $300,000 in flexible funding to support his or her work during the next three years.
More…

DUKE-UNC collaboration creating “gut-on-a-chip” – Read a featured article about a Duke-UNC collaboration to build a “gut-on-a-chip” to study the microbiome of the human intestines. More…

Evolving a Bigger Brain with Human DNA
Duke scientists have discovered that a crucial DNA difference between humans and chimps boosts brain size in mice.  More …

Chromosome Biology: You’ve Come A Long Way, Baby – Read a featured post from Beth Sullivan, PLOS Genetics Associate Editor, on the last ten years of chromosome biology. More…

MGM Summer Undergraduate Research Engagement (MGM SURE)
The Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology is pleased to announce a 10-week summer fellowship program for Duke undergraduates. The program runs from June 1, 2015 – August 7, 2015.
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Cell’s Recycling Team Helps Sound Alarm on Pathogens
Just as households have recycling bins for getting rid of waste, the cell has its own system for cleaning up defunct components.  More …

2014

UPGG Graduate student, Blake Billmyre is awarded a 2015 DeLill Nasser Travel Award
The Genetics Society of America awarded Robert Blake Billmyre a DeLill Nasser Travel Award for Professional Development in Genetics for 2015.  This is one of the most important awards bestowed by GSA because it helps promote the future of their discipline by supporting early career scientists in their own professional development.  More…

Antifungal Drug Development Summit
Please join us for a summit at Duke University January 29-30, 2015 focusing on multi-disciplinary and complementary approaches to anti-fungal therapy development spanning academia and pharma.
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Willard Named President and Director of Marine Biological Laboratory
Huntington Willard, an innovative leader in the fields of genetics and genome biology who has built comprehensive research centers at leading institutions, has been appointed the next President and Director of the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts.  More …

Drugs to Block Angiogenesis Could Provide New Treatment for TB
Duke researchers’ findings suggest a new therapeutic approach that might target the body’s response to tuberculosis (TB).  More …

Microbiome Researchers Find Common Ground
More than 200 scientists, clinicians, engineers and students gathered at Duke University Medical Center to learn about cutting-edge microbiome research in an interdisciplinary symposium.  More …

Post-Doctoral Fellowships Available
The Center for Host-Microbial Interactions in the Duke Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology has current openings in the Tri-Institutional Molecular Mycology Pathogenesis Training Program (MMPTP).  More …

Cullen Presents 2014 Raymond Schinazi Distinguished Lectureship
Bryan R. Cullen, PhD, James B. Duke Professor and Director of the Center for Virology in the Duke Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, gave the Raymond Schinazi Distinguished Lectureship at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia on October 15.  More …

Scientists Identify Gene Required for Recovery From Bacterial Infection
Duke researchers have uncovered the genes that are normally activated during recovery from bacterial infection in the C. elegans worm. The finding could be key to new antibiotics and countering auto-immune disorders.  More …

Stem-Cell Breakthrough in Treatment of Diabetes
Heitman lab alumnus, Felicia W. Pagliuca, PhD, has helped develop a procedure for making hundreds of millions of pancreatic beta cells in vitro.  More …

Prospecting for Malaria Drugs
Assistant Professor, Emily Derbyshire, PhD, works at the intersection of chemistry and biology to address malaria and other global health problems.  More …

Molecular Players in Brain Development, Aging
Assistant Professor, Dong Yan, PhD, is studying molecular pathways critical in development and aging.
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Goldstein to Head Institute for Genomic Medicine at Columbia University
David Goldstein, PhD, will be joining Columbia as Director of the University’s Institute for Genomic Medicine and Professor of Genetics and Development in the College of Physicians and Surgeons, effective January 1, 2015.  More …

Payne Receives ASM/CDC Resident Postdoctoral Research Fellowship
Tamika Payne, a graduate student in the Duke University Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, has received the ASM/CDC Resident Postdoctoral Research Fellowship from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  More …

Ko Receives 2014 ICAAC Young Investigator Award
Dennis Ko, MD, PhD, an assistant professor in the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, has received a 2014 ICAAC Young Investigator Award for his innovative and multidisciplinary research on the genetic basis for pathogen susceptibility in humans.  More …

AOA Medical Honor Society Members Named
Twice a year the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society elects a small number of new members. Membership in AOA is a distinction that accompanies a physician throughout his or her career.  More …

Fungus Deadly to AIDS Patients Found to Grow on Trees
Researchers have pinpointed the environmental source of fungal infections that have been sickening HIV/AIDS patients in Southern California for decades. It literally grows on trees.  More …

Garcia-Blanco Appointed Chair of Biochemistry and Microbiology at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston
Dr.  Mariano A. Garcia-Blanco has agreed to join UTMB as Chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. As Chair of BMB, Dr. Garcia-Blanco will lead efforts to further excellence in research, education, mentoring and scholarship that have broad fundamental, translational and clinical impact.  More …

Editing HPV’s Genes to Kill Cervical Cancer Cells
Researchers have hijacked a defense system normally used by bacteria to fend off viral infections and redirected it against the human papillomavirus (HPV), the virus that causes cervical, head and neck, and other cancers.  More …

Gut Microbes Browse Along a Gene Buffet
In the moist, dark microbial rainforest of the intestine, hundreds of species of microorganisms interact with each other and with the cells of the host animal to get the resources they need to survive and thrive.  More …

Scientists Discover New Mechanism of Drug Resistance
Microorganisms like bacteria and fungi can evade treatment by acquiring mutations in the genes targeted by antibiotics or antifungal drugs.  More …

Macias Receives Dual Awards
Everardo Macias, PhD, was recently awarded a Prostate Cancer Foundation Young Investigator Award and an NIH Supplement to Promote Diversity in Health-Related Research.  More …

Recalled Yogurt Contained Highly Pathogenic Mold
Samples isolated from recalled Chobani yogurt have been found to contain the most virulent form of a fungus called Mucor circinelloides.  More …

David Selected for Prestigious Sloan Research Award
Lawrence David, PhD, an assistant professor in the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, has received a 2014 Sloan Research Fellowship, recognizing his work in computational and evolutionary molecular biology and identifying him as among the next generation of scientific leaders.  More …

Marchuk Awarded Distinguished Professorship
One Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology faculty member was awarded a distinguished professorship and recognized at a May 1 dinner at the Washington Duke Inn.  More …

Twelve MGM Trainees Receive Prestigious Fellowships/Honorable Mentions
Twelve MGM trainees have recently received prestigious fellowships/honorable mentions to support their research.  More …

Where DNA’s Copy Machine Pauses, Cancer Could Be Next
Each time a human cell divides, it must first make a copy of its 46 chromosomes to serve as an instruction manual for the new cell. Normally, this process goes off without a hitch. But from time to time, the information isn’t copied and collated properly, leaving gaps or breaks that the cell has to carefully combine back together.  More …

Deadly Human Pathogen Cryptococccus neoformans Fully Sequenced
Duke researchers have sequenced the entire genome and all the RNA products of the most important pathogenic lineage of Cryptococcus neoformans, a strain called H99.  More …

Modified Poliovirus Used as Therapy for Glioblastoma
Matthias Gromeier, MD, an associate professor of neurosurgery and molecular genetics and microbiology, has discovered that that the poliovirus could kill cancer cells while leaving healthy cells unharmed.  More …

Heitman Receives F1000Prime Faculty Member of the Year Award
Joseph Heitman, MD, PhD, James B. Duke Professor and Chair of the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology at Duke University, has received a 2013 F1000Prime Faculty Member of the Year Award.  More …

Valdivia Appointed Vice Dean of Basic Research
Raphael H. Valdivia, PhD, has been appointed the new vice dean for basic science for the Duke University School of Medicine, beginning July 1, 2014.  More …

MGM Summer Undergraduate Research Engagement (MGM SURE)
The Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology is pleased to announce a new 10-week summer fellowship program for Duke undergraduates. The program runs from June 2, 2014 – August 8, 2014.  More …

Four MGM Trainees Receive Prestigious Fellowships
Four MGM trainees, including Laura Simone Bisgono, Anthony Moore, Emily Snavely, and Barbara Sixt, have all recently received prestigious research support.  More …

Chi Receives Chancellor’s Discovery Award
Jen-Tsan Ashley Chi, MD, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology and Duke Institute for Genome Sciences and Policy at Duke University Medical Center, has received a Chancellor’s Discovery Award for his proposal entitled, “Dissect sexual differentiation in P. falciparum via single parasite analysis.”  More …

Permar Receives Young Investigator Award
Sallie R. Permar, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Infectious Diseases, Assistant Professor in Immunology, and Assistant Professor in Molecular Genetics and Microbiology at Duke University Medical Center, has received the Young Investigator Award from the Society for Pediatric Research (SPR).  More …

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