MCB Seminar Series: Dr. Michael Church

December 5, 2023

Tuesday, December 5, 3:30 PM, BPB 130

Dr. Michael Church, Postdoctoral Research Associate, Stowers Institute for Medical Research

Host: Stacey Hanlon

Regulating metabolism through control of gene expression

Summary: Protein complexes that affect DNA accessibility by sliding/evicting nucleosomes are conserved throughout Eukarya, and play an important role in gene regulation. In the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, one such complex, Swi-Snf, is a well-known activator of gene transcription. However, swi/snf mutants display elevated levels of metabolic gene transcription in contrast to its known role as an activator. We aimed to discover the reason for this phenomenon, and further investigate the relationship between metabolism, chromatin, and the proteins that influence both.

Bio: Dr. Church received both his  B.A. and Ph.D. from the Department of Microbiology at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, after which he spent a short time working as an industrial scientist. Church moved to Kansas City, Missouri in 2017 to work as a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the lab of Jerry Workman, Ph.D. at the Stowers Institute for Medical Research. He is interested in how metabolism affects proteins that regulate gene expression, and vice versa.

Link to publication

MCB Seminar Series: Dr. Shaun Brinsmade

November 21, 2023

Tuesday, November 28, 2023, 3:30 PM, BPB 130

Dr. Shaun Brinsmade, Associate Professor, Department of Biology, Georgetown University

Host: Michel Giovani Santiago-Martinez

Integrating metabolism and virulence in Staphylococcus aureus

Summary: Metabolism fuels infection, and virulence can be thought of as a mechanism to maintain homeostasis. In my talk, I’ll discuss our current work to understand the linkages between bacterial physiology and the production of virulence factors in the model Gram-positive human pathogen Staphylococcus aureus.

About Dr. Brinsmade: Dr. Shaun Brinsmade earned his Bachelors of Science in Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of Connecticut. He was inspired in Dr. Teschke’s Biochemistry course to seek out undergraduate research in Dr. Judy Kelly’s lab. There he worked in the lab to help understand the structure, function, and catalytic mechanism of the D-ala-D-alacarboxypeptidase-transpeptidase. He then moved to the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he earned his PhD with Dr. Jorge Escalante-Semerena in the Dept. of Bacteriology to study bacterial physiology and Acetyl-CoA (Ac-CoA)homeostasis in the Gram-negative pathogen Salmonella enterica. Following his PhD studies, Dr. Brinsmade completed several years of postdoctoral work in the Dept. of Molecular Biology and Microbiology at Tufts Medical with Abraham “Linc” Sonenshein studying regulation of metabolism and virulence genes in Gram-positive bacteria. After training with Linc Sonenshein and a brief training at the ETH-Zürich with systems biologist Uwe Sauer, Dr. Brinsmade opened his own lab in August 2013. Thus, research in the Brinsmade Lab blends multiple fields and work from the last22 years and focuses on the physiological origins and molecular underpinnings of virulence in S. aureus. Dr.Brinsmade attributes his love (and passion!) for biochemistry, genetics, and microbiology in part to the UConn MCB faculty, including Drs Kelly, Knox, Teschke, Kendall, and Leadbetter.

Link to publications:

1.) (relevant for my seminar)
2.) (relevant for my seminar)
3.) (where it all began…at UConn MCB)

Brinsmade website

Passing of Dr. Ken Doeg

November 13, 2023

Kenneth A. Doeg, 92, of Storrs Mansfield, CT passed away on November 5, 2023. He was born in West Hoboken, NJ, and graduated from Montclair Teacher's College in 1952. Ken DoegHe received his doctorate in biochemistry at Rutgers University in 1957 followed by postdoctoral work at the Enzyme Institute at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. In 1961 he moved to the University of Pennsylvania, Pittsburg, as an Assistant Professor, doing research on diabetes. In 1964 he accepted a position at UConn in the Biochemistry and Biophysics Section of the Biological Sciences Group, the common ancestor of the MCB, PNB, and EEB departments. His research dealt with the hormonal regulation of metabolism in mitochondria, biosynthesis and control of mitochondrial membrane synthesis, and the reconstitution of mitochondrial anion transporters. He also taught biochemistry and other biology courses. He retired as Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology in 1997.

Throughout his life Ken pursued many passions including opera, UConn basketball, and traveling around the world. He was a well-known AKC dog judge and was an active member of the South Windsor Kennel Club. After retirement, he volunteered at the Windham Hospital for over 25 years. He is survived by his two daughters, Beth Murana and Leslie Romero.

MCB Seminar Series: Dr. Victoria Jeffers

October 17, 2023

Dr. Victoria Jeffers, Assistant Professor of Microbial Pathogenesis in the Department of Molecular, Cellular and Biomedical Sciences, University of New Hampshire

Host: Aoife Heaslip

Placing a BET on bromodomains in Toxoplasma gondii

Read More

MCB Seminar Series: Dr. Binyam Mogessie

September 28, 2023

Dr. Binyam Mogessie,

Assistant Professor of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, Yale

Assistant Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences, Yale

Wellcome Trust and Royal Society Sir Henry Dale Fellow

Host: Barbara Mellone

“Emerging mechanisms of chromosome segregation in mammalian eggs”

Read More

MCB Seminar: Dr. Tara McAllister

September 21, 2023

Dr. Tara McAllister, Research Fellow, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand

Host: Dr. Kat Milligan-McClellan

Tuesday, September 26, 2023, 3:30 PM, BPB 130

“Formidable Phormidium: toxic cyanobacteria in New Zealand rivers”

Read More

MCB Seminar: Dr. Janko Gospocic

September 14, 2023

Dr. Janko Gospocic, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Green Center for Reproductive Biology Sciences, UT Southwestern Medical Center


Host: Jelena Erceg

“Hormones and High Society: Control of Caste Identity in Ants”

Summary: Social insects are exceptional model organisms to study how epigenetic factors and gene regulation modulate neuronal circuitry resulting in specific social behaviors, in particular because very similar genetic backgrounds can give rise to distinct castes. The Indian jumping ant (Harpegnathos saltator) has the unique ability to change caste throughout adulthood depending on the social context within the colony. Analysis of brain transcriptomes during the transition revealed that neuropeptide corazonin and steroid signaling are major regulators of caste identity and behavior in social insects.

Read More

Annual MCB Department Retreat

August 28, 2023

The Annual MCB Department Retreat was held on 8/24/23. In the morning, Department Head Carol Teschke announced the 2023 Summer Fellowship Awards followed by Research Lightning Talks from MCB Assistant Professors Erceg, Hanlon, Heaslip, Milligan-McClellan and Santiago-Martinez.
A poster session was held with 21 labs represented.
Food trucks provided delicious lunch options and the day finished with a lively trivia competition. See photos here!

MCB PhD Students Awarded Poster Prizes at the 2023 FASEB Summer Research Conference on Microbial Pathogenesis

August 9, 2023

Josette Nammour (Robinson Lab) won an award for her poster entitled Altered Guanine Nucleotide Binding by the Bacterial Translation Factor BipA Negates Actin Pedestal Formation by Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli.

Corey Theodore (Campellone Lab) won an award for his poster entitled Cytoskeletal requirements for maintaining lysosomal integrity during autophagy.

Both poster awards were sponsored by the American Society for Microbiology (ASM). The FASEB Conference, The Microbial Pathogenesis Conference: Mechanisms of Infectious Disease was held July 9-13 in Southbridge, MA