May 2019



Congratulations to two Biochemistry and Molecular Biology graduate students, Jana Jenquin and Jacob Andring, on being selected as award recipients during the 2019 Medical Guild Research Awards competition held on April 10, 2019.

Jana presented her research topic,  "Combination Treatment of Erythromycin and Furamidine Rescues Mis-Splicing in Myotonic Dystrophy Type 1 Models", and was selected as a Bronze Award Winner.

"The winners of the Medical Guild Research Awards are chosen based on their research and graduate portfolio", says Dr. Thomas C. Rowe, a College of Medicine associate professor and the Associate Dean for Graduate Education, in this article published in Doctor Gator, College of Medicine News. “This is really meant to be the culmination of work during their career in the program. It is not just about being a great speaker. It’s about being recognized as an expert in their field,” he said.

Jacob Andring received two honors - he was selected as one of three recipients of the 2019 Advancement to Candidacy Award and was also chosen as the 2019 Council of Academic Chairs Scholarship recipient!

Congratulations Jana and Jacob on receiving these honors, and thank you for representing our department in such an outstanding manner!



This year marked Dr. Bert Flanegan's 40th year with the University of Florida! For over 20 of those years, Dr. Flanegan has served as the Chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. The department celebrated this amazing accomplishment with Dr. Flanegan by having a surprise reception.



Dr. Brian Cain and Dr. Thomas Yang


BMB FACULTY - Exemplary Teaching Awards

Dr. Mavis Agbandje-McKenna
Dr. Jörg Bungert
Dr. Brian Cain
Dr. Michael Kilberg*
Dr. Robert McKenna
Dr. Daniel Purch

*This marks the 10th year that Dr. Michael Kilberg has received this award.



      The following graduate students successfully defended their  
                 dissertations and will be graduating this week:

Nikea Chanel Pittman  -  Dr. Mavis Agbandje-McKenna Lab
              Justin Kurian  -  Drs. Robert McKenna and 
                                          Mavis Agbandje-McKenna Lab
              Jana Jenquin  -  Dr. Andy Berglund Lab
                Bihan Wang  -  Master's graduate from the lab of 
                                          Dr. Suming Huang

         We extend our sincere congratulations and best wishes 
                            for all of your future endeavors!


2nd Annual Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
Undergraduate Research Poster Session

The 2nd Annual Biochemistry & Molecular Biology Undergraduate Research Poster Session was held on April 11 on the 3rd floor of the Academic Research Building (ARB). This poster session provides an opportunity each spring for those undergraduates who working in labs within our department to highlight and discuss their work.

Here are the five winners:

Caroline Lamoutte
PI: Thomas Mareci
Title: Characterizing Diffusion Weighted Images Using Configuration Analysis of Spherical Harmonics

Sarah Lulu
PI: Jianrong Lu
Title: Epigenetic Rescue of MOF in Mesenchymal Breast Cancer Cells

Krystal Glasford
PI: Michelle Gumz
Title: Kidney Specific Disruption of the Circadian Gene BMAL1 in Mice Produces a Sex-Depenent Effect on Systolic and Diastolic Blood Pressure

Margaret Hibnick
PI: Linda Bloom
Title: YoaA, A Putative Helices in Bacteria Involved in Repairing Blocks to DNA Replication

Taha Huda
PI: Mingyi Xie
Title: Investigating Metabolic Changes Caused by Oncolytic Myxoma Virus in SFxL Glioblastoma Cells

These students were each awarded a gift of $100.

We would like to thank those that participated at judges.
Postdocs and graduate students: Dr. Lauren Douma, Casey Chamberlain, Christopher Fields, Akilah Murray and Tori Fielding Makal
Faculty judges: Dr. Mingyi Xie, Dr. Robert McKenna and Dr. Susan Frost.

And special thanks to Dr. Frost for coordinating this annual event.



Zoe Fisher family photo

Ara Aslanian

Class of 2000

Mentor: Dr. Michael Kilberg

Dr. Ara Aslanian currently works at Hotspot Therapeutics, a venture-stage structure-based drug design company located in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  Hotspot is a virtual company, meaning all of their “wet work” is conducted by contract research organizations (CROs), which are guided remotely.  They are also a platform company, meaning they have no specialty disease area, but allow their technology guide them to the most robust drug targets. 

Ara was a founding scientist at Hotspot, and his current title is Senior Director, in vivo and in vitro Biology/Pharmacology.  He describes his position as, “In short, I am responsible for setting up all the assays and guiding compounds through every step of preclinical discovery and development including target identification, screening, biophysical validation, mechanism of action studies, pharmacology, and in vivo efficacy.”

Regarding his time at UF, here is what Dr. Aslanian states, “My experience at UF prepared me well for a career in drug discovery.  At UF, there is a strong emphasis on scientific rigor and developing critical thought skills, which has served me well at all stages of my career.  Also, during my graduate school experience, I had the ability to work on compelling projects that directly relate to human disease processes, which is essential to a career in industry.  Finally, effective science presentation skills are needed for success in biotech.  In this department, there were ample opportunities to present my work in all manner of settings, which was tremendously valuable for developing this skill.  My job has given me the opportunity to do interesting, challenging work, meet brilliant colleagues, and travel around the world – all started with my years as a student at UF!”

Ara is a native of the Boston area, and his education brought him back to the vibrant center of biotech in Massachusetts. He state that he is “married (to another UF B&MB grad) with two children, aged 9 and 14.  We live near the city but enjoy all types of year-round sports and activities here in New England.”

"My experience at UF prepared me well for a career in drug discovery.  At UF, there is a strong emphasis on scientific rigor and developing critical thought skills, which has served me well at all stages of my career."






Monday, May 20
Wen Jiang
Department of Biological Sciences
Purdue University
West Lafayette, IN

4:00pm     LG-101A
McKnight Brain Institute - DeWeese Auditorium


Monday, June 17
Dan Rosenbaum
Department of Biophysics and Biochemistry
University of Texas/Southwestern Medical Center
West Lafayette, IN

4:00pm     LG-101A
McKnight Brain Institute - DeWeese Auditorium



No Sessions until Fall 2019



                 Wednesdays     4:00pm     ARB R3-265

No sessions until Fall 2019


Biochemistry & Molecular Biology

Tuesdays    11:45am    ARB R3-265

No sessions until Fall 2019

Structural Biology

      Mondays     3:00pm     ARB R3-265     

No sessions until Fall 2019


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