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May 14, 2004

Life Sciences Institute grows to 13 faculty

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—The Life Sciences Institute at the University of Michigan is building a faculty of 25-30 cross-disciplinary scientists who will work together collaboratively in an open lab setting to attack difficult problems of human health from a variety of perspectives.

The institute’s core concentrations so far are in structural biology, cell biology, genetics and genomics, and a new field called chemical genomics.

As of May 14, 2004, Life Sciences Institute faculty and their areas:

LSI Faculty

Geneticist David Ginsburg, M.D. is studying human families with bleeding disorders such as hemophilia, and mice with genetic knockouts, to understand the genes and biomolecules that control the blood-clotting response.

Biological chemist Kun-Liang Guan, Ph.D. studies the enzyme chemical reactions that regulate cell division, growth and differentiation, which are crucial to understanding disease states like cancer, arthritis and diabetes.  

Cell biologist Daniel Klionsky, Ph.D. is using baker’s yeast as a model organism to uncover intriguing clues into a variety of human diseases, including cancer, and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Systems biologist Anuj Kumar, Ph.D. surveys large numbers of genes and proteins in baker’s yeast, using computers and robotic sample handling, and has discovered more than 137 new genes.

Pathologist John Lowe, M.D. is exploring the complex sugars which coat the outside of animal cells to better understand cellular signaling and inflammatory diseases including arthritis, psoriasis and hardening of the arteries.

Biological chemist Rowena Matthews, Ph.D. studies riboflavin and folic acid, and has contributed to the recommendation that all people should consume more folic acid to prevent heart disease and birth defects.

Structural biologist Gabrielle (Gabby) Rudenko, Ph.D. focuses on the structure and function of proteins that regulate the brain’s recovery from damage due to drugs or injuries.  

Cell biologist and LSI Director Alan Saltiel, Ph.D. studies the hormone insulin and its role in regulating cellular sugar levels and facilitating cell-to-cell communication.

Medicinal chemist David Sherman Ph.D. explores the biochemical pathways of marine microorganisms, with a goal of finding new drug candidates for infectious diseases and cancer. He also directs LSI’s new Center for Chemical Genomics.

Structural biologist Janet L. Smith Ph.D. examines the three-dimensional shapes of enzymes that are critical to multi-stage chemical reactions in the cell. Her work also examines structures in infectious pathogens including the RNA viruses that cause West Nile, yellow fever and dengue.

B. Joseph White Ph.D ., a professor of business administration, former dean of the Business School and former interim president of the University of Michigan, joins the LSI as a Research Professor to explore an initiative on personalized medicine.

Biological chemist Xian-Zhong “Shawn” Xu, Ph.D. is a physiologist who studies cellular signaling by calcium ions in the model organism C. elegans, a nematode worm. His work explores nervous system development and sperm fertility in the worms.

Structural biologist Zhaohui Xu, Ph.D. is examining “molecular chaperones” that help newly made proteins fold into the proper three-dimensional shape. Misshapen proteins are known to be a factor in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, diabetes, high cholesterol, mad cow disease, and bacterial infections and are probably involved in countless other conditions as well.

 

Contact: Karl Leif Bates
Phone: (734) 647-1842
E-mail: batesk@umich.edu