NEWS

2018

Jen-Tsan "Ashley" ChiJen-Tsan “Ashley” Chi, MD, PhD, Associate Professor in the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiologyand lab recently published new findings on unmasking blood doping in athletes. Read more about the findings in the Duke Today news release.   Read the published research here.

 

 

Dennis Ko and Sam Miller Professor Samuel Miller from University of Washington gave a talk entitled “Are Pathogenic Bacteria Just Looking for Food” for the Thursday Seminar Series on October 11. Dr. Miller served as the post-doctoral mentor for MGM faculty member Dennis Ko from 2006-2012. In appreciation for Dr. Miller encouraging mentees to take on high-risk, high-reward projects while providing the mentorship and support to succeed, Dennis presented him with a piece of the Apollo 11 command module foil, which served to protect astronauts during the moon mission.

Sam is Professor of Medicine, Microbiology, Immunology and Genome Sciences at the University of Washington. He has made groundbreaking discoveries including sensing of pH and antimicrobial peptides by PhoP/Q, immune evasion through modification of LPS, antibiotic induction of biofilms, structure-function of the TTSS and associated effectors, evolution of Pseudomoas in the CF lung, mechanisms and visualization of c-di-GMP signaling dynamics, role of the microbiome in CF and Crohn’s disease, and novel systems to study host-pathogen interactions. These systems included expression of Salmonella effectors in yeast developed by his postdoc Cammie Lesser who was here last week, and cellular GWAS with the Hi-HOST approach that Dennis developed while in his lab. Most recently Sam has turned his attention to characterization of genes of unknown function in Acinetobacter.

Sam has authored over 200 publications and has been recognized with numerous honors including the Squibb Award from the Infectious Diseases Society of America, fellowship in the American Academy of Microbiology, the American Society of Clinical Investigation, and the American Association of Physicians.

Joseph Heitman Nicholas Heaton HeadshotHeitman and Heaton received awards from ASM  Joseph Heitman, M.D., Ph.D., Chair and James B. Duke Professor and Nicholas Heaton, Assistant Professor in the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology have received awards from the American Society for Microbiology.  Dr. Heitman received the ASM Award for Basic Research which recognizes an outstanding scientist whose discoveries have been fundamental in advancing our understanding of the microbial world.  Dr. Heaton received the ASM Award for Early Career Basic Research which recognizes an early career investigator with distinguished basic research achievements in the microbioal sciences.  Click here for the School of Medicine Blog post.  Click here for the ASM 2019 Award Winners Announcement.

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Dr. John Rawls and collaborator Dr. Steven Farber from the Carnegie Institution were recently awarded a Pew Innovation Fund grant from the Pew Charitable Trusts. Their project uses zebrafish to investigate how dietary nutrients and microbes alter the body’s ability to sense glucose in the gut. The Pew Innovation Fund supports innovative interdisciplinary collaborations between former Pew Scholars and Fellows.  Click here for more information.

 

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Dionna Gamble, a PhD candidate in the Jinks-Robertson lab, has been awarded a NIGMS Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award Indiviual Predoctoral Fellowship (F31). This award will support her research which centers around the repair of DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) via homologous recombination (HR) in the budding yeast. Specifically Dionna is investigating the effect of different DSB end structures, created by nuclease platforms, on the intermediates and outcomes of HR.

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Matsunami invited to serve as a member of the Chemosensory Systems Study Section.  Hiro Matsunami, PhD accepted and invitation to serve as a member of the Chemosensory Systems Study Section at NIH effective immediately until June 30, 2022.  Members are selected based on their demonstrated achievement in their scientific discipline as evidenced by the quality of research accomplishments, publications in scientific journals, and other significant scientific activities and honors.  Congratulations Hiro!

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Fu and Pianalto awarded poster prize at the recent 2018 Cellular and Molecular Fungal Biology Gordon Research Conference. Ci Fu present the following poster entitled,  “Filamentation promotes foraging for mating partners of the opposite mating type in Cryptococcus deneoformans”. In this project, we tested whether the unisexual filamentation phenotype has any ecological benefits in promoting foraging for mating. Through competitive mating assays using strains of different filamentation phenotypes, we found that filamentation does not promote foraging for mating partners of the same mating type, but when cells of the opposite mating type were present, filamentation could promote foraging for mating partners of both the same and the opposite mating types.  Kaila Pianalto presented a poster entitled, “Multifunctional Nap1 Promotes Rim Alkaline pH Pathway Signaling in Cryptococcus neoformans through Protein Stability Maintenance.” The project I presented was describing the novel role for Nucleosome Assembly Protein 1 in the activation of the Rim pathway in Cryptococcus neoformans, a pathway that is required for sensing and responding to the host through changes in pH. I described how this protein likely is regulating the pathway through interactions with the pH sensor that are required for maintaining the protein levels of the sensor. I also described some new work that I am pursuing that is aiming to identify other mechanisms by which the pH sensor and the alkaline pH signaling pathway are regulated.

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Joseph Heitman, MD, PhD received the 2018 Rhoda Benham Award from the Medical Mycological Society of the Americas (MMSA) for continuous outstanding or meritorious contributions to medical mycology (https://www.mycologicalsociety.org/rhoda_benham_award). The award and medal were presented at the MMSA Annual Banquet held in conjunction with the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) Microbe meeting in Atlanta, GA on Saturday June 9th, 2018. Rhoda Benham was a luminary and international expert in medical mycology who served on the faculty at Columbia University and Johns Hopkins University. Her work focused on clinical microbiology and in particular emphasized analysis and characterization of pathogenic Candida and Cryptococcus species and dermatophytes. Dr. Heitman joins an illustrious group of previous recipients of the Rhoda Benham award, which has been awarded annually since 1967, including notable Cryptococcus researchers June Kwon-Chung, Arturo Casadevall, John Perfect, and many others (https://www.mycologicalsociety.org/rhoda_benham_awardees). Dr. Heitman’s research program focuses on both model and pathogenic fungi, including studies on 1) the mechanisms of action and the targets of natural products including the discovery of TOR and FKBP12 as the targets of rapamycin, 2) the evolution and impact of sexual reproduction and the key discovery of unisexual reproduction among eukaryotic microbial pathogens, 3) how pathogenic microbes sense and respond to the host and environmental signals, 4) the structure, function and evolution of fungal mating type loci and fungal genomes, and 5) the role of the phosphatase calcineurin as a globally conserved fungal virulence factor including efforts to develop novel antimicrobial agents that target fungal calcineurin. Dr. Heitman is an elected fellow of the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA), the American Academy of Microbiology, the Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI), and the Association of American Physicians, and has previously received the ASBMB AMGEN Award (2002), the Squibb Award from the IDSA (2003), a MERIT Award from NIH-NIAID (2011-2012), and the Stanley Korsmeyer Award from the ASCI (2018). Dr. Heitman is James B. Duke Professor and Chair of the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, Duke University.

Rhoda Benham award talk 2018 and Rhoda Benham Dinner Talk

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Tatjana Abaffy, Ph.D, Assistant Research Professor in the laboratory of Hiro Matsunami, M.D., recently published an online research article in Frontiers in Oncology that was featured by multiple news outlets including Duke Today. The article entitled, “A Testosterone Metabolite 19-Hydroxyandrostenedione Induces Neuroendocrine Trans-Differentiation of Prostate Cancer Cells via an Ectopic Olfactory Receptor”, discuss new research that one olfactory receptor plays a critical role in the progression of prostate cancer. They found that activating an olfactory receptor called OR51E2 in prostate cancer cells caused the cancer to morph into the more aggressive, ‘castration-resistant’ form of the disease. To read more, click on the following links: Duke TodayUPIFrontiers in Oncology.

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Dr. Dennis Ko has been awarded the 2018 Irving S. Sigal Memorial Award. Dr. Ko has made significant contributions that bridge microbiology, infectious disease, and human genetics. His pioneering work combining cellular microbiology with human genome wide association studies have identified human genetic differences that impact host-pathogen interactions and human disease susceptibility. This award, sponsored by the American Society of Microbiology and Merck, recognizes and awards excellence in basic research in medical microbiology and infectious diseases. The award is presented in memory of Irving S. Sigal, who was instrumental in the early discovery of therapies to treat HIV/AIDS.  Click here for more information.

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Kevin Zhu, a PhD candidate in the Matsunami Lab, has been awarded a NIDCD Ruth L. Kirschstein Predoctoral Fellowship. This award will support his research to develop and implement a novel method to map the receptor-specific target sites of olfactory neurons traveling from the nasal epithelium to the olfactory bulb.

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Brooke D’Arcy, who joined the Silver Lab in March 2018, has been selected to receive a 2018 National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) Fellowship. The selection was based on her demonstrated potential to contribute to strengthening the vitality of the U.S. science and engineering enterprise.

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Jackie Lin, an undergraduate student in the laboratory of Joseph Heitman, M.D., Ph.D., was awarded a 2018 Biology Faculty Award for outstanding intellectual achievements and excellence in research. Jackie will be listed as an awardee in the official graduation book published by the University and will be recognized at the Biology diploma ceremony with a plaque and gift. Congratulations Jackie on this impressive achievement.

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Dr. Nick Heaton is the recipient of the the Hartwell Foundation‘s 2017 Hartwell Individual Biomedical Research Award and designation as a Hartwell Investigator. In selecting awardees, the Foundation takes into account the compelling and transformative nature of the proposed innovation, the extent to which a strategic or translational approach might accelerate the clinical application of research results to benefit children of the United States, the extent of collaboration in the proposed research, the institutional commitment to provide encouragement and technical support to the investigator, and the extent to which funding the investigator will make a difference. See the complete list of recipients here.

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Dulcemaria Hernandez, a graduate student in the Coers Lab, received the NSF graduate research fellowship for 3 years.The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) helps ensure the vitality of the human resource base of science and engineering in the United States and reinforces its diversity. The program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees at accredited United States institutions.

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Drs. Vance Fowler and Sallie Permar, MGM secondary faculty members, are the recipients of the 2018 Research Mentoring Award for Translational Research.   The Research Mentoring Awards were created in 2009 to honor the outstanding research mentors in the Schools of Medicine and Nursing.  Winners of this award demonstrate excellence in numerous aspects of mentoring, including accomplishments of individual mentees, programs implemented by the mentor, or by exceptional creativity in mentoring. These awards will be presented by Dean Mary Klotman at the annual Spring Faculty Meeting, which will be held at the Doris Duke Center, Duke Gardens on Wednesday, May 9, 4:45pm. 

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Dr. Bill Steinbach, MGM secondary faculty member, is the recipient of the 2018 Ruth and A. Morris Williams Faculty Research Prizefor his outstanding contributions in clinical science research.  This award will be presented  by Dean Mary Klotman at the annual Spring Faculty Meeting, which will be held at the Doris Duke Center, Duke Gardens on Wednesday, May 9, 4:45pm.  

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The Division of Human Genetics Scientific Retreat was held on Friday, March 16 at the NC Biotechnology Center in the Research Triangle Park. The keynote speakers were Stacey Gabriel from the Broad Institute and John Greally from Albert Einstein College of Medicine. There were several short talks from trainees and faculty along with a Happy Hour poster session. View the gallery here.

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Every year, F1000Prime gives awards to faculty members who have worked especially hard writing F1000Prime article Recommendations that have proved popular with users in the previous year and also to those who have made an extraordinary contribution to F1000Prime’s service. Congratulations to Dr. Joe Heitman for receiving an ‘Outstanding Faculty Member of the Year’ award!

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Michael Hoy and Giuseppe Ianiri both from the lab of Dr. Joseph Heitman, have received the Young ISHAM grant for the ISHAM 2018 conference. Michael has also been selected to give a short talk to students and postdocs at the event. Congratulations to Michael and Giuseppe!  The International Society for Human and Animal Mycology conference is held in Amsterdam June 30 – July 4, 2018.

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Dr. Micah A. Luftig has accepted the NIH’s invitation to serve as a member of the Virology-A Study Section, Center for Scientific Review. Members are selected on the basis of their demonstrated competence and achievement in their scientific discipline as evidenced by the quality of research accomplishments, publications in scientific journals, and other significant scientific activities, achievements and honors. Service on a study section also requires mature judgment and objectivity as well as the ability to work effectively in a group. His term will be from July 1, 2018 – June 30, 2022.

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Professor Josh Akey from Princeton University gave a talk entitled “Genomic Tales of Human History” for a packed house at the UPGG Seminar on February 27. In gratitude for early support of his career as a postdoc at University of Washington, his MGM faculty host, Dennis Ko, presented him with a fragment of a Neanderthal hand axe.  

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Dr. Shinohara, MGM secondary faculty member, has been selected to be a study section member of the Innate Immunity and Inflammation (III) Study Section at NIH. Study section members are selected on the basis of their demonstrated achievement in their scientific discipline as evidenced by the quality of research accomplishments, publications in scientific journals, and other significant scientific activities, achievements and honors. Study sections review grant applications submitted to the NIH, make recommendations on these applications to the appropriate NIH national advisory council or board, and survey the status of research in their fields of science. These functions are of great value to medical and allied research in this country.

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The fungus that causes athlete’s foot and other skin and toenail infections may have lost its ability to sexually reproduce as it adapted to grow on its human hosts. The Heitman lab paper on toe fungus was recently published in Genetics and has been getting news coverage. Read more about the research at Duke Today.

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Joe Heitman: two interviews about his research

JCI Insight article  &Weill Cornell Medicine article
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Animal Study Shows How to Retrain the Immune System to Ease Food Allergies: Soman N. Abraham, Ph.D., professor in Duke’s Department of Pathology and a secondary faculty member in MGM, is senior author of a study published this month in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. Read the article by Duke Health here.

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Our own Amy Hafez, graduate student in Micah Luftig’s lab, has been elected as one of the Graduate and Professional Student Council (GPSC) members of the Duke Board of Trustees. Amy will be defending her Ph.D. on March 8th and plans to pursue post-doctoral work in Science Policy. We will be excited to welcome her back during her three-year term on the BOT.

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Joe Heitman, is the recipient of the 2018 American Society for Clinical Investigation’s (ASCI) Stanley J. Korsmeyer Award for his key contributions to our understanding of how eukaryotic microbial pathogens evolve, cause disease, and develop drug resistance; and his discovery of TOR and FKBP12 as targets of the immunosuppressive chemotherapeutic drug rapamycin. He will deliver the ASCI/Stanley J. Korsmeyer Award Lecture on April 20 at the upcoming AAP/ASCI/APSA Joint Meeting. For more information, see the interview published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation here, the School of Medicine blog here and Dean Klotman’s tweet here. Congratulations, Joe! 

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Congratulations to MGM secondary faculty, Sallie Permar and Georgia Tomaras for being elected AAM fellows! They were among 96 new fellows elected to the American Academy of Microbiology, an honorific leadership group. 

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Allison Roder, a PhD candidate in the Horner lab, has just been awarded an NIAID Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award  Individual Predoctoral Fellowship (F31). This award will support her research on defining novel regulatory controls of hepatitis C virus envelopment. Congratulations Allison!

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Congratulations to our Chair, Joe Heitman, for being a 2018 recipient of the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Mentoring. The recipients of the Dean’s Awards in Mentoring are recognized for helping to create a vibrant culture at Duke that values exemplary mentoring. The Dean’s Awards Ceremony will be on March 28, 2018 at 4:30 PM in the Sarah P. Duke Gardens.

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On January 27, some MGM faculty and students attended the Black Tie Dinner for the Duke Bouchet Society. The purpose of this dinner is to showcase and celebrate successful minority scientists produced by Duke University. It is a night of inspiration and encouragement as we gather together, not only for fellowship, but to also hear the stories of Duke Alumni that have gone on to be successful in their respective fields.  Pictured is Emma Bonglack, Stacy Horner and Christine Vazquez.

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Ted Espenschied in the Rawls lab took second place in the Pratt School of Engineering photo contest with an image capturing a cross-section of the intestine of a transgenic zebrafish. To see Ted’s photo entitled, “The Inside Track”,  and the other winning photos, click here.

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John Lu, an MGM SURE alumnus, and undergraduate researcher in the Luftig Lab, was recently named a Marshall Scholar. This prestigious fellowship enables students to pursue post-graduate studies in the UK. In the Luftig Lab, John has worked on biochemical characterization of the interface between EBV and host proteins that regulate B-cell transformation. As a Marshall Scholar, he plans to study health policy at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine followed by a year of research toward a master’s in biochemistry at Cambridge. After this training in the UK, he intends to complete an M.D./Ph.D. and then embark on a career to develop vaccines that can eradicate neglected tropical diseases. A full press release on Duke Today can be found here.

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Division of Human Genetics Retreat –  This free event will be on March 16, 2018 at the North Carolina Biotechnology Center. The event is open to all Duke faculty, students, and staff interested in human genetics. Our two Keynote Speakers will be Stacey Gabriel of the Broad Institute and John Greally of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. The program will also include short talks and posters by trainees and a social hour. Email kristin.thole@duke.edu to register.

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Duke named 5th globally in microbiology by US News and World Report    There are many who have contributed to advance microbiology across our campus, including basic science and clinical departments, and the collaborative and collegial nature of the institution has fostered an environment that promotes interdisciplinary collaborations that advance excellence in microbial sciences.  Duke has a history of strength and both depth and breadth in virology that began when Bill Joklik was Chair of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology and which continues to this day, in part sponsored by the Center for Virology and the Human Vaccine Institute.  Similarly Duke has a history of excellence in mycology, and much of this stems from the tireless efforts of John Perfect, chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases in the Department of Medicine.  In 2002 a group of investigators focused on bacterial pathogens were brought together (Meta Kuehn, Soman Abraham, Rich Frothingham, and Ken Wilson) and assisted in the recruitment of additional colleagues working on bacterial pathogens that led to the success of the Center for Microbial Pathogenesis, which became the Center for Host-Microbial Interactions.  The Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology founded and supports and sustains the Center for Virology, the Center for Host-Microbial Interactions, and the Duke Microbiome Center, and thereby provides a series of forums that promote collaboration between basic scientists and physician-scientists.  The success of microbiology as a discipline at Duke is attributable to many contribution centers, departments, institutes, and programs, and the faculty and colleagues who bring their talents and energy to bear on understanding our microbial world and developing ways to mitigate the impact of microbial pathogens on human health.”  Joseph Heitman, James B. Duke Professor and Chair of the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology.

“Duke MGM has led a successful effort to establish microbiome sciences at Duke.  Recruitment of microbiome faculty into MGM formed a nidus that served to motivate and support other Duke faculty within and beyond MGM to engage in microbiome research.  As a result, we now have a spectrum of exciting microbiome research projects happening at Duke.  This includes development of novel computational approaches to understand and predict microbiome perturbations, design of new probiotics and prebiotics therapies, establishment of much-needed genetic tools for “genetically intractable” microbes, development of approaches for engineering environmental and host-associated microbiomes, and defining the molecular mechanisms by which microbiomes contribute to human diseases.  These research projects have been supported by innovative graduate training programs such as the NSF-funded Integrative Bioinformatics for Investigating and Engineering Microbiomes (IBIEM) Program, and by the intellectual environment and resources provided by the new Duke Microbiome Center and other Duke Centers.” (John Rawls)

A reception to celebrate Duke University being named 5th globally in microbiology by US News and World Report was held on Tuesday February 27th, 2018, 4:30 to 6 or 6:30 pm, Great Hall, Trent Semans Center. The celebration was a time to thank the various groups who contribute to the success of microbiology at Duke by working so productively and collaboratively for recruitment, mentorship, and advancing research programs:  The Human Vaccine Institute, the Global Health Institute, the Clinical Microbiology Laboratory, the Infectious Diseases Divisions of the Departments of Medicine and Pediatrics, and the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology.

Photos of the Event

Link to US News and World Report: https://www.usnews.com/education/best-global-universities/microbiology

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Lynne Zechiedrich, who was our invited guest speaker at the MGM retreat in 2016, was recently elected to the National Academy of Inventors. Lynne’s work on minicircles has been developing since the early 1990s. Twister Biotech, Inc. is a Baylor College of Medicine spin-out company from Lynne’s work. Read more about Twister Biotech here.

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2017

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.

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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.

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Duke researchers are 1% of the top 1% of most cited researchers. The 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!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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…

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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 i