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CAS - Basic Sciences - Internal E-Newsletter [Vanderbilt University]

February 2020


Stanley Cohen (1922 – 2020)

Professor Emeritus of Biochemistry and Nobel laureate Stanley Cohen passed away on February 5 at the age of 97. A member of the Vanderbilt faculty from 1959 through his retirement in 1999, Cohen’s seminal discovery of epidermal growth factor and its receptor revolutionized our understanding of cancer biology and led to the development of many new anti-cancer drugs. Stanley was an icon of basic science and a beloved member of our community. He will be greatly missed. Read more


Brown lauded as most inspiring

Breann Brown (Biochemistry) is on Cell Press’s Crosstalk blog as one of the 100 most inspiring black scientists in America.




Calipari receives Early Career Award

The Division for Neuropharmacology of the American Society of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics has awarded their Early Career Award to Erin Calipari (Pharmacology).



Bordenstein honored for excellence in education

The Genetics Society of America has bestowed its Elizabeth W. Jones Award for Excellence in Education to Seth Bordenstein (Biological Sciences).



VBS Core Development Grants awarded

We are pleased to announce the recipients of the 2020 Core Development Grants, which provide $50,000 each to support the scientific mission of our cores. The awardees are: Jarrod Smith (Vanderbilt Structural Biology Computer Support Service), Joshua Bauer (High-throughput Screening Core), Jenny Schafer (Cell Imaging Shared Resource), and Chris Farmer (High-throughput Screening Core).


Trainee awards

Our trainees continue to win recognition for their research. The most recent fellowship awards went to Michael Raddatz (Merryman lab, Biomedical Engineering) from the NIH, Kavi Mehta (Cortez lab, Biochemistry) and Elleansar Okwei (Meiler lab, Chemistry) from NIGMS, Abigail Smith (Johnston lab, Chemistry) from NHLBI, and Ayesha Muhammed (Roden lab, Medicine) and Mark Crowder (Collins lab, Medicine) from the American Heart Association.



New Discoveries

Probing differentiation 

Emily Hodges (Biochemistry) and her lab report the development of a new tool that allows them to study cellular differentiation by simultaneously measuring DNA methylation and chromatin assembly.


Resolving a calcium receptor

The lab of Erkan Karakas (MPB) has determined the structure of human IP3R type 3, a calcium channel found in rapidly proliferating cells.


Targeting cancer through MYC

A collaboration between the labs of Bill Tansey (Cell and Developmental Biology) and Steve Fesik (Biochemistry) has demonstrated the importance of the MYC-WDR5 interaction in tumor cell growth and survival.


Keys to DNA repair

Walter Chazin (Biochemistry) and his lab provide new insight into the mechanisms of action of key proteins in the nucleotide excision repair pathway for DNA repair.



New tools to fight depression

A team including the labs of Jeff Conn (Pharmacology), Danny Winder (Molecular Physiology & Biophysics), and Craig Lindsley (Pharmacology) provides a framework for the discovery of new drugs to fight major depression.


Understanding atherosclerosis

Recent findings from Sean Davies (Pharmacology) and colleagues show that a lipid oxidation-mediated chemical modification can impede HDL function.




Uncovering new retromer structures

Lauren Jackson (Biological Sciences) and her lab report  using single particle cryo-EM to uncover how the highly conserved protein complex retromer can carry different types of cargoes to different locations.


Mechanism of H. pylori-mediated carcinogenesis

New research from Timothy Cover’s (Medicine) lab reveals the roles of three ATPases that enable H. pylori to transfer an oncoprotein into gastric cells.




Blocking ebola

James Crowe (Pediatrics) and colleagues report a mixture of antibodies that blocks Ebola virus infection in nonhuman primates.



Integrin in the lung

A recent study from Roy Zent (Medicine), Timothy Blackwell (Medicine), and Ambra Pozzi (Medicine) reveals the importance of beta-1 integrin in normal lung function.


Neurology of social function

Research from Sachin Patel (Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences) and his colleagues identifies a neural pathway in the brain of mice that induces pleasure but impedes social function.


Controlling ant aggression

Larry Zwiebel (Biological Sciences) and his lab report new findings that demonstrate the role of odor detection in regulating aggression towards non-nestmates.



Know Your Core

Did you know that Basic Sciences boasts 19 cores that can help you with an assortment of needs and techniques? We’ll be featuring them each month so that you can get to know them. Maybe they can help you with that project you’ve been putting off… Just don’t forget to acknowledge them in your publications!

Creative Data Solutions (CDS) is a fee-for-service shared resource that provides bioinformatics and informatics research services to the Vanderbilt community. From fixed-workflow services to deeper collaborative engagements, its vision is to help with discovery, publishing, and funding. Bioinformatics expertise includes bulk and single-cell RNA-Seq, ChIP-Seq, variant identification and analysis, data visualization, and algorithm development. Informatics services include web and API programming, software engineering, and database development. For more information, please visit the CDS website or contact the core director, JP Cartailler.



Research Assistant or Associate Professor, Stephen Fesik laboratory.

Research Assistant II, Innovative Translational Research Shared Resource.




New program project focuses on extracellular RNA

Congratulations to Alissa Weaver (Cell and Developmental Biology) and her many collaborators on their new grant that provides ~$9 million over 5 years to enable investigations into the packaging of extracellular RNA into vesicles.


External Funding Opportunities

NIGMS Supplement Proposals
If you have an NIGMS R01, R35, or R37 grant, you are strongly encouraged to consider applying for an Administrative Supplement of up to $250,000 for equipment purchases. In recent years, the success rate of these NIGMS supplement proposals has been very favorable and there is every reason to be optimistic that the situation will be the same this year. Proposals are due March 30.


Internal Funding Opportunities

Global Research and Engagement Micro-Grants
The Office of the Provost invites faculty to submit proposals for the Global Research and Engagement Micro-Grants to help with the opportunity to pursue international research, scholarship, and creative expression projects, or to pursue strategic, time-sensitive opportunities for global research and engagement. Applications for this grant are received on a rolling basis through June 2020, and winners are announced monthly.


Limited Submission Opportunities

Additional LSO information
Information regarding limited submission opportunities may be found on the University and Medical Center websites. You can also sign up to receive regular updates by email. These opportunities are not limited only to faculty. Make sure you check these opportunities out, as some are open to postdocs and graduate and medical students.

Giving Day
Vanderbilt Giving Day will be held April 2. Please plan to take this wonderful opportunity to support Basic Sciences!

Did your paper just get accepted?
If a submitted manuscript recently got accepted, make sure to let us know! Email Craig Boerner (if you’re in the School of Medicine or VUMC) or Ian Morrison (if you’re in the College of Arts & Sciences), making sure to cc Lorena Infante Lara, to let us know before the journal-mandated embargo for your paper lifts. Their communication teams can help improve the reach of your research.

Lobbying and gift rules
The Office of Federal Regulations wishes to remind everyone of the rules regarding gifts to federal elected officials. Details are provided here, and questions may be directed to Christina West.

Women’s Center annual awards
Vanderbilt’s Margaret Cuninggim Women’s Center has three awards open for nominations: the Margaret Cuninggim Women’s Center Leadership Award, the Mentoring Award, and the Mary Jane Werthan Award. Consider nominating someone by checking out each award’s info page. Nominations are due February 21.

TN primary elections
Tennessee will have presidential election primaries on March 3. Early voting will take place between February 12 and February 25. For a list of key 2020 election-related dates, visit this page. You can also reference this website if you’re looking for general information on voting in the state of Tennessee.

NIH graphics policy
The NIH will soon adopt a policy prohibiting the inclusion of graphics in the Abstract or Specific Aims sections of grant proposals. The policy will not take place until it is formally announced, but in the meantime, applications that include graphics in these sections will receive a warning upon submission. This warning has no effect currently on application review.

NIH ORCID ID requirement
The NIH now requires that applicants for individual fellowship and career development awards have an ORCID ID linked to the PD/PI’s eRA Commons personal profile.

NIH guide
If you have not already done so, you are encouraged to subscribe to the NIH Guide email list, which provides a weekly update on NIH grant programs and requests for proposals. Subscribe here.

Get the VandySafe app
All members of the Vanderbilt community should download the VandySafe app, which offers emergency calling, reporting, services, guides, and more. To learn more and to download the app (from the Apple or the Google Play stores), click here.

Check us out on social media
Looking for the latest news from Basic Sciences? Follow us on Twitter for the latest news on publications, awards, and presentations, and on Instagram to see the research our trainees are conducting.

REDCap Day
The 2020 REDCap Day will be held on February 25, 2020. The sessions – which will cover exciting upcoming features in REDCap, unique ways researchers are using REDCap to do great work, REDCap training, and more – will begin at 8:00 AM. Registration is now open. If you have an interesting use case of REDCap that you’d like to share, submit your information here. You will be entered into a swag drawing and may be invited to present during the plenary lecture.

Inaugural EV Research seminar
The Program for Extracellular Vesicles Research is hosting Travis Thomson (University of Massachusetts Medical School) for a seminar on February 25th at 2:00 PM in MRBIII 1220.

Faculty development workshop
One more faculty development workshop is planned for the spring season. “Leaders: Cultivators of Culture,” will take place on March 25 at noon in 210 Kissam. Note that the sessions are not open to all faculty. Check the website for more details.

Brain Blast 2020
The Vanderbilt Brain Institute’s annual Brain Blast will take place March 28 from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM at the downtown branch of the Nashville Public Library. All are welcome! To participate, please submit a booth proposal before February 17th. And, if you would like to volunteer, sign up before March 9th.

Postdoctoral Association Symposium
The 14th Annual Postdoctoral Association Symposium, highlighting post-doc research across VU and VUMC, will be held April 23 from 11:00 AM to 6:00 PM at the Student Life Center. Register by February 29th. Don’t miss it!

Integrated Applications of Structural Biology Symposium
The Center for Structural Biology is celebrating its 20th anniversary by hosting a symposium to be held May 1-2. Registration is now open. Don’t delay!

NIH & You to occur in Nashville
One of the NIH’s Regional Seminars on Program Funding and Grants Administration for 2020 will take place right here in Nashville on October 28-30. Registration is now open. Attend this event, sponsored by the Office of Extramural Research, to learn about the application and review process, federal regulations and policies, current areas of special interest or concern, and more.

About the Newsletter

This monthly newsletter recognizes the achievements and latest discoveries of any trainees, faculty, and staff who aid in the basic research enterprise of the biomedical sciences at Vanderbilt University. Archive.

About this Issue’s Banner

Retromer is a protein complex found in endosomes that can load and ferry different kinds of cargoes to different cellular locations. This cryo-EM image of retromer shows it in a chain assembly formation. Image taken by Amy Kendall, lab manager of the Lauren Jackson lab.

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