Faculty

Spotlights

Meyer Jackson met with Congressman Marc Pocan on Feb. 4 on behalf of the Biophysical Society as part of their effort to advocate for increased federal funding for biomedical research. This effort is being coordinated in part by Jonathan King, an emeritus professor from MIT who after decades of investigating protein folding, misfolding and aggregation and bacteriophage structure and assembly, is now concentrating on protecting the conditions needed to support biomedical research, in particular federal investment in biomedical research through the NIH and NSF budgets. Meyer Jackson was advocating on behalf of the Biophysics community on campus and talked about the groundbreaking work being done by members of the program and how the interdisciplinary nature of biophysical research helps the entire campus. 

Dr. Ed Chapman in the Neuroscience department was awarded a prestigious Pew Innovation Fund award, as pair of one of six pairs of researchers who received this honor. Dr. Chapman will work with Dr. Dorit Hanein to investigate the structure of proteins needed for cellular membrane fusion. The purpose of the Innovation Fund awards is to build research partnerships that leverage the diverse community of researchers Pew has investigated in to address important research questions in human biology and disease. Congratulation Dr. Chapman! (see full story: https://www.pewtrusts.org/en/about/news-room/press-releases-and-statemen...)

University of Wisconsin–Madison biochemistry assistant professor and biophysics trainer Philip Romero received the 2018 Shaw Scientist Awards from the Greater Milwaukee Foundation. The awards come with $200,000 in seed funding to support innovative research approaches and the career development of young investigators.
 
Romero’s work uses new technologies to understand how proteins work and how to design new ones. Using computational methods, he is able to analyze large amounts of data that help him investigate the relationships between protein sequence, structure and function. This allows him to pull out sequences that lead to useful properties and design new proteins with desired functions.
 
“The Shaw Award will enable us to pursue new high-risk projects that wouldn’t be supported by the standard funding agencies,” Romero says. “We’re excited to think longer term about where our field is headed, and how we can make a large impact on engineering biological systems.”
 
The Shaw Scientist Awards program began in 1982 thanks to a $4.3 million bequest from Dorothy Shaw, widow of James Shaw, a prominent Milwaukee attorney. In addition to $2 million in special grants, the Shaws’ fund has awarded about $14 million in grants to 73 scientists from UW–Madison and UW–Milwaukee. An advisory panel including scientists representing major U.S. research institutions recommends the winners. Founded more than a century ago, the Greater Milwaukee Foundation is the region’s largest community foundation and was among the first established in the world.
 
Full story: https://news.wisc.edu/two-professors-receive-shaw-scientist-awards-to-su...

Biochemistry assistant professor and biophysics trainer Vatsan Raman has received a Director's New Innovator Award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The New Innovator Award supports “unusually creative early stage investigators” whose research can have a broad impact on biomedical sciences.
Raman’s project is focused on understanding protein allostery. Allostery is a property by which when something happens to one part of a protein, a signal is somehow communicated to another part of the protein, where another action takes place. “So, the thesis of this award is: how does this on/off business work?” Raman says. “Can we figure out the specific amino acids — the smaller units that make up proteins — that allow it to change between on and off? In my laboratory, we develop high throughput methods to probe the role of every amino acid in these proteins to decipher which are involved in allostery.” Raman explains that their grand objective is to not just study allostery in one or two proteins, but understand the fundamental “rules” of the property. 
Full story: https://biochem.wisc.edu/news/2018/news-raman-nih-award-protein-function

Bob Landick, a professor of biochemistry and bacteriology, was elected this year to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Founded in 1780, the academy honors American leaders in science, art, business, and humanities. Other members elected this year include former president Barack Obama and actor Tom Hanks. Congratulations Dr. Landick! (https://news.wisc.edu/three-from-uw-madison-elected-to-american-academy-...)

Tom Brunold, professor of Chemistry, was recently honored with the Chancellor's Distinguished Teaching Award. This award has been given out since 1953 to honor top educators at UW-Madison. Congratulations Dr. Brunold on this outstanding achievement! (https://news.wisc.edu/distinguished-teaching-awards-2018/)

Gail Robertson, professor of neuroscience, who studies how excitable cells of the heart and brain produce coordinated electrical activity was recently honored with a Kellet mid-career award.  The award was created to provide support and encouragement to faculty who are 7 to 20 years past their first promotion to a tenured position and comes with $75,000 that may be spent over five years. The award is named for William R. Kellett, a former president of the WARF board of trustees and retired president of Kimberly-Clark Corp. Dr. Robertson's research led to the development of drug safety tests used worldwide to reduce the risk for life-threatening cardiac side effects. Additionally, Dr. Robertson has had teaching and leadership roles in medical education for 25 years and is co-founder of the UW-Madison’s Master of Science in Biotechnology Program. Congratulations Dr. Robertson! (https://research.wisc.edu/uncategorized/2018/03/15/faculty-recognized-wi...)