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Fall 2016 Letter from the Chair

Dear Friends of UT Molecular Biosciences,​

This fall, UT Austin welcomed its largest incoming class to date, and we are excited to have many of these new Longhorns in the Department of Molecular Biosciences. We welcomed a new faculty member who has done groundbreaking research in CRISPR gene-editing and are preparing a new research facility that allows scientists to see the inner workings of cells at higher resolution than ever before. We also are celebrating Professor John Wallingford's election as president of the Society for Developmental Biology and the achievements of our alumnus, Dr. Jim Allison, who The New York Times featured prominently for his leadership in immunotherapy cancer treatment. We are thankful for your continued support. You're essential in making UT Austin a science education leader and a hub for discovery and innovation that changes the world.


Dan Leahy
Chair, Department of Molecular Biosciences

P.S. Giving from alumni, parents, and friends allows us to pursue strategic initiatives and to support our faculty and students in their education and research endeavors. Please consider making a gift to UT Molecular Biosciences today.

Spring 2016 Letter from the Chair

It’s an honor to introduce myself to you as the chair of the Department of Molecular Biosciences. Established in 2013, our department is the largest in the College. Our outstanding faculty members have already proven their strong commitment to making the department a world leader in research and education.

I received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Yale University, a Ph.D. in biophysics from Stanford University, and conducted postdoctoral research at Columbia University before joining the faculty at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. My research interests center around how specific hormones and growth factors trigger cells to grow or differentiate at just the right time and in just the right way to develop and maintain us in all of our complexity. To investigate this problem I use the tools of structural biology—X-ray crystallography and cryo-electron microscopy—to study the conformational changes in specific cell-surface receptors that occur when factors bind and how these changes alter cell growth and behavior. Many of the growth signals we study go awry in cancer, and we are very interested in learning what goes wrong in these cases and how that knowledge might contribute to the development of new cancer therapies. A new lab in the Larry R. Faulkner Nano Science and Technology Building that will be used by me and other faculty in the department is being equipped with state-of-the-art instruments to support this growing area of research.

Our faculty members span the gamut of biomedical and molecular bioscience research, ranging from those who work on regulation and organization of metabolic pathways, to the protein and nucleic acid structure, to infectious diseases. These faculty members are developing novel approaches to biological problems and offer unique perspectives to our students at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Central to this continual transformation are our close associations with a number of interdisciplinary institutes, centers, and facilities. These include the Institute for Cellular and Molecular Biology, the Center for Systems and Synthetic Biology, the John Ring LaMongagne Center for Infectious Disease, the Center for Computational Biology and Bioinformatics, and the Genome Sequencing and Analysis Facility. These intellectual and technological drivers further provide bridges between the faculty and broader clinical and commercial communities, enhance the productivity of the faculty, and enliven our educational and outreach efforts.

My goal as chair is to help advance biomedical sciences and prepare the College for strong, ongoing collaboration with the Dell Medical School. The opportunity to interact and coordinate with partners in the newly forming medical school is exciting for our department and UT Austin.

I am committed to doing all I can to ensure that molecular biosciences at UT Austin not only remains strong but advances its position as a world leader in research and education . As a stakeholder in our success, you help distinguish UT Molecular Biosciences from its peers, and we need your help financially. In this spring season, please consider making a gift to the department. Giving from alumni, parents, and friends allows us to pursue strategic initiatives and to support our faculty and students in their education and research endeavors.

Thank all of you for your support, which will make a tremendous difference in our day-to-day work.

Dan

Fall 2015 Newsletter

Hello from your UT MBS department!


Letter from the Chair

As interim chair, I have been honored to work with exceptional students and faculty who are committed to building a rich community of research and innovation in the Molecular Biosciences. I also am pleased to announce that Dr. Dan Leahy, a structural biologist and Professor of Biophysics & Biophysical Chemistry at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, will assume the role of Chair in January. We are all pleased to welcome him to UT Austin! Our department is a place for groundbreaking ideas, spanning a wide range of expertise and interests, and we are committed to bringing innovative solutions to important biological problems. As such, I am pleased to share with you a few highlights from the Department: 

  • The Center for Infectious Disease will host the second annual La Montagne Lecture on March 29th, 2016. Dr. Penny Heaton, director of Vaccine Development with the Global Health Program of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, will be the guest speaker. The inaugural lecture in this series was given by Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, on February 9th, 2015. Watch his talk on the Ebola outbreak, here.

  • Molecular Biosciences has initiated a new faculty search for one Assistant Professor this year. We are excited about the candidates and the chance to grow our already-fantastic faculty. Interviews will be conducted early in the spring, and we hope to be able to introduce a new member of our team as soon!
  • The annual Molecular Biosciences retreat will be held at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center on March 5, 2016. This is an opportunity for students, postdocs, and faculty to hear about the latest in MBS research discoveries. Our invited speaker will be Dr. Elaine Fuchs from Rockefeller University, a leader in the field of skin stem cells and their role in tissue maintenance and cancer.

As you can see, the Department of Molecular Biosciences continues to grow and make an impact. We’re able to do so thanks to the committed support of our alumni and friends – you help distinguish UT MBS from its peers. Please consider renewing your support for the department by way of an annual contribution – all gifts make a difference in our ability to enrich the experience of our students and faculty.

Thank you for being an important part of the Department of Molecular Biosciences!

Jon Huibregtse
Department of Molecular Biosciences

 

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2016 Alumni & Friends Awards


Nominations for the Emerging Leader, Distinguished Alumnus and Distinguished Service Award are now open. To learn more about Hall of Honor and to submit your nomination, click here.

 

 

 

Spring 2015 Newsletter

Greetings from your UT Campus!

Letter from the Chair

The Department of Molecular Biosciences continues to be on the cutting edge of scientific research while dedicating itself to quality and innovative education for both undergraduates and graduates. As such, I am proud to serve as Interim Chair. As one of our graduates, you are our most important ambassadors. We are pleased to send you the latest addition of the department’s newsletter.

A few highlights from this semester include:

•    The Center for Infectious Disease hosted Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, for the inaugural John LaMontagne Lecture on February 9th, 2015 on campus. Watch his talk online at Time Warner Cable News.

•    MBS has ongoing searches for two Assistant Professors, one Full Professor, and a permanent Department Chair.  We are excited about the candidates and the chance to grow our already-fantastic faculty.  Look for introductions to these new MBS members as soon as possible!

•    We also have two retiring faculty this spring, Dr. Jon Robertus and Dr. Jerry Brand.  Dr. Robertus, Professor in Biochemistry, and Dr. Brand, Professor in Molecular Cell and Development Biology, have each been researching, teaching, and serving the larger UT community for over 40 years. They will be honored at a retirement party on May 12th, 2015.  Have a memory to share about them?  Please click here to contribute to our memory book for them.

•    And finally, commencement is around the corner!  The College of Natural Sciences will hold a graduation ceremony honoring Biology majors affiliated with MBS on May 23rd.  I will be proud to shake hands with 264 MBS graduates.
 
Our department is strong because of you. As a stakeholder in our success, you help distinguish UT Molecular Biosciences from its peers, but we need your help financially. Please consider making a gift to MBS to help strengthen and support our legacy of excellence. Giving from alumni, parents and friends allows us to be strategic and supportive of our faculty and students in their education and research endeavors.

Thank you for being an important part of this fantastic department!

Jon Huibregtse
Interim Chair, Department of Molecular Biosciences

 

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