Microbiology News

Microbiology’s Dokland named ASM Distinguished Lecturer

DoklandTerje Dokland, Ph.D., of the University of Alabama at BirminghamDepartment of Microbiology, has been named an American Society for Microbiology Distinguished Lecturer for 2017-2019. Dokland, a UAB associate professor, studies the structural biology of viral assembly and bacterial pathogenicity, using tools like cryo-electron microscopy and X-ray crystallography.

Beginning July 1, he will join a group of scientifically diverse lecturers who speak at American Society for Microbiology Branch meetings throughout the United States. Frances Lund, Ph.D., UAB chair of Microbiology, called Dokland’s appointment “a national honor.” Read more ...

Genetic clues to kidney disease uncovered

Briles.AAASUsing international genomic studies backed by proof-of-concept cell experiments, researchers have identified two genes that contribute to the chronic kidney disease glomerulonephritis.

This provides new genetic clues to understanding IgA nephropathy, an autoimmune kidney disease that commonly causes kidney failure. The findings are relevant to IgA nephropathy and other diseases with similar underlying molecular defects, such as inflammatory bowel disease, certain types of blood disease and cancer.

“Very little is known about the causes of IgA nephropathy, genetic or otherwise, so our discovery represents an important step toward developing better therapies for this disease,” said lead author Krzysztof Kiryluk, M.D., the Herbert Irving Assistant Professor of Medicine at Columba University Medical Center. Read more ...

Majoring in defense: UAB’s new Undergraduate Immunology Program

Briles.AAASIt doesn’t matter whether you live in Beverly Hills or a Brazilian favela — every human being is only a few inches away from disaster. From birth to death, on our arms, legs and everywhere else, each of us carries microbes that would love to get under our skin and reproduce, with potentially fatal results. A paper cut, an insect bite, an untimely rubbing of the eyes — it takes very little for bacteria, viruses and other invaders to get inside and start wreaking havoc. Read more ...

Three UAB faculty members selected as fellows by world’s largest general scientific society

Briles.AAASFaculty members from the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s College of Arts and Sciences and School of Medicine have been named fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

The AAAS is the world’s largest multidisciplinary scientific society and a leading publisher of cutting-edge research through its Science family of journals.

Charles Amsler, Ph.D., professor in the College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Biology, Steven Austad, Ph.D., distinguished professor and chair of the Department of Biology, and David Briles, Ph.D., professor in the School of Medicine’s Department of Microbiology and Department of Pediatrics, are UAB’s three representatives in the 2016 class of AAAS fellows. Read more ...

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Weinmann2009Dr. Amy Weinmann joined the microbiology department in February 2014.Growing up in Minnesota, Amy Weinmann attended the University of Minnesota, Morris, where she received a B.A. in biology in 1995. An undergraduate summer project at the Mayo Clinic gave her an appetite for research and set her on a path to crisscross the United States. She moved from Minnesota to California where she received her Ph.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles. She moved from California to Wisconsin where she completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and then she moved from Wisconsin to Seattle, Washington, and joined the faculty at the University of Washington Department of Immunology. Now, ten years later, she has made her way to Alabama.

Currently, she is working on the mechanisms by which lineage-specifying transcription factors regulate cell fate decisions in development. “A major focus of the research in my lab is on the T-box and BTB-ZF transcription factor families, which are required to promote cellular transitions in numerous developmental systems, ranging from early embryogenesis to immune cell fate. We are also interested in defining the mechanisms by which epigenetic patterns are established in a cell-type and activation-state specific manner. Collectively, our mechanistic studies will provide new insight into many human diseases that are associated with dysregulation of these pathways, including a major emphasis on blood cancers, autoimmunity, and birth defects.”

During this time of economic challenges, Weinmann takes her job as mentor seriously. She says that it is easy to get discouraged when funding is so limited, but a person must not accept the word can’t. “Science is do-able,” she says. “Passion comes from within. Nobody can take your passion away from you.” She enjoys watching students learn how to drive their own science. “Early on, it’s much more hands-on, but eventually it starts to flip and by the end, the student knows way more than I do. It’s a proud moment when they’re on their own.”

In her spare time, Weinmann follows professional sports (especially the Minnesota Vikings), and she herself can spike a mean volleyball, having played volleyball in high school and college. She says, “the mental discipline of sports fits well with science. It’s always a work in progress; you should be proud of what you’ve accomplished, but at the same time strive to do better and learn more.”