Life Sciences Division Newsletter
In this issue:
Scientific News »
- New Clues to Why Older Women are More Vulnerable to Breast Cancer »
- New Details on Microtubules and How the Anti-Cancer Drug Taxol Works »
- In the News »
- Recent Publications »
- Four Lab Scientists Receive DOE Early Career Awards; Includes Trent Northen »
- Research Funded to Identify New Strategies to Increase Warfighter Resilience to Stress »
- Berkeley Lab Spinoff Newomics Snags $908,000 in SBIR Grants »
- Life Sciences Division Honors Careers of Retiring Colleagues »
- Division Hosts Inaugural Distinguished Biosciences Lecture on Stem Cells »
- In Memoriam: Friend and Colleague Carmen Escobar (1960-2014) »
- In Memoriam: Friend and Colleague Chris Ramsey (1965-2014) »
- Berkeley Lab Celebrates LGBT Pride Month »
- Staff Show Their World Cup Colors »
- New Hires and Departures: Welcomes and Goodbyes »
From left to right: Tiina Jokela, Martha Stampfer, Jim Garbe, Mark LaBarge, Masaru Miyano, and ChunHan Lin (Fanny Pelissier not pictured).
Scientists from the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have gained more insights into why older women are more susceptible to breast cancer. They found that as women age, the cells responsible for maintaining healthy breast tissue stop responding to their immediate surroundings, including mechanical cues that should prompt them to suppress nearby tumors.
Their work sheds light on how aging alters cellular and molecular functions, and how these changes contribute to the prevalence of breast cancer in older women. The disease is most frequently diagnosed among women aged 55 to 64, according to the National Cancer Institute.
The research appears online June 5 in the journal Cell Reports. It was led by Mark LaBarge of Berkeley Lab’s Life Sciences Division, with help from first author Fanny Pelissier and other Berkeley Lab scientists, and researchers from UC Berkeley and Norway’s University of Bergen.
News Release, Berkeley Lab News Center, June 5, 2014
Eva Nogales of the Life Sciences Division led a team of researchers that produced the most detailed look ever at the assembly and disassembly of microtubules, tiny fibers of tubulin protein that form the cytoskeletons of living cells and play a crucial role in cell division. Through a combination of high-resolution cryo-electron microscopy and image analysis, they imaged microtubule polymerization and depolymeration at the unprecedented resolution of 5 angstroms. These images provide new insight into the success of the anti-cancer drug Taxol and point the way to possible improvements. Other members of this team were Gregory Alushin, Gabriel Lander, Elizabeth Kellogg, Rui Zhang and David Baker. More »
Today at Berkeley Lab, May 27, 2014
A review of Life Sciences researchers, staff, and students who have appeared in the news media. This is but a sampling of our coverage. Please note that some links may expire after time.
A June 17 Scientific American story on cancer therapies quoted the Lab’s Mina Bissell.
A June 8 Daily Cal story highlighted new insights into breast cancer, work led by the lab’s Mark LaBarge. The South China Morning Post also covered his work (last item).
A June 5 Science 2.0 story highlighted new insights into breast cancer, work led by the Lab's Mark LaBarge. R&D magazine also ran a story on the work.
A May 23 R&D magazine story highlighted work led by the Lab’s Eva Nogales which shows the first explanation of Taxol’s success as a cancer chemotherapy agent. Health Canal and others also covered her work.
A May 1 Talking New Media story noted former Lab employee Lila Tretikov will head the Wikimedia Foundation. The New York Times also profiled her.
A May 1 Northwest Public Radio story included research on walking and running by the Lab’s Paul Williams.
The Lab’s Science at the Theater event held in Richmond on May 1was covered by the Contra Costa Times. Paul Williams participated in the event.
What follows is a review of Life Sciences recent publications.
Alushin GM, Lander GC, Kellogg EH, Zhang R, Baker D, Nogales E. High-resolution microtubule structures reveal the structural transitions in αβ-Tubulin upon GTP hydrolysis. Cell. 2014 May 22;157(5):1117-29. PMID: 24855948 Abstract »
Beers KM, Yakovlev S, Jackson AJ, Wang X, Hexemer A, Downing KH, Balsara NP. Absence of Schroeder's paradox in a nanostructured block copolymer electrolyte membrane. The Journal of Physical Chemistry B. 2014 May 19. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 24842682 Abstract »
Bhat R, Bissell MJ. Of plasticity and specificity: dialectics of the micro- and macro-environment and the organ phenotype. Wiley interdisciplinary reviews. Membrane Transport and Signaling. 2014;3(2):147-163. PMID: 24678448 Abstract »
Chen XC, Wong DT, Yakovlev S, Beers KM, Downing KH, Balsara NP. Effect of morphology of nanoscale hydrated channels on proton conductivity in block copolymer electrolyte membranes. Nano Letters. 2014 Jun 3. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 24854241 Abstract »
Clausen CH, Brooks MD, Li TD, Grob P, Kemalyan G, Nogales E, Niyogi KK, Fletcher DA. Dynamic mechanical responses of arabidopsis thylakoid membranes during PSII-specific illumination. Biophysical Journal. 2014 May 6;106(9):1864-70. PMID: 24806918 Abstract »
Costello JC, Heiser LM, Georgii E, Gonen M, Menden MP, Wang NJ, Bansal M, Ammad-Ud-Din M, Hintsanen P, Khan SA, Mpindi JP, Kallioniemi O, Honkela A, Aittokallio T, Wennerberg K; NCI DREAM Community, Collins JJ, Gallahan D, Singer D, Saez-Rodriguez J, Kaski S, Gray JW, Stolovitzky G. A community effort to assess and improve drug sensitivity prediction algorithms. Nature Biotechnology. 2014 Jun 1. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 24880487 Abstract »
Damiola F, Pertesi M, Oliver J, Le Calvez-Kelm F, Voegele C, Young EL, Robinot N, Forey N, Durand G, Vallee MP, Tao K, Roane TC, Williams GJ, Hopper JL, Southey MC, Andrulis IL, John EM, Goldgar DE, Lesueur F, Tavtigian SV. Rare key functional domain missense substitutions in MRE11A, RAD50, and NBN contribute to breast cancer susceptibility: results from a Breast Cancer Family Registry case-control mutation-screening study. Breast Cancer Research. 2014 Jun 3;16(3):R58. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 24894818 Abstract »
Deng K, Takasuka TE, Heins R, Cheng X, Bergeman LF, Shi J, Aschenbrener R, Deutsch S, Singh S, Sale KL, Simmons BA, Adams PD, Singh AK, Fox BG, Northen TR. Rapid kinetic characterization of glycosyl hydrolases based on oxime derivatization and nanostructure-initiator mass spectrometry (NIMS). ACS Chemical Biology. 2014 May 12. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 24819174 Abstract »
Esserman LJ, Thompson IM, Reid B, Nelson P, Ransohoff DF, Welch HG, Hwang S, Berry DA, Kinzler KW, Black WC, Bissell M, Parnes H, Srivastava S. Addressing overdiagnosis and overtreatment in cancer: a prescription for change. The Lancet Oncology. 2014 May;15(6):e234-42. PMID: 24807866 Abstract »
Jagust W. Time for tau. Brain. 2014 Apr 15. [Epub ahead of print] Article »
Kim SH, Kothari S, Patel AB, Bielicki JK, Narayanaswami V. A pyrene based fluorescence approach to study conformation of apolipoprotein E3 in macrophage-generated nascent high density lipoprotein. Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications. 2014 May 24. pii: S0006-291X(14)00943-7. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 24866239 Abstract »
Laforce R Jr, Tosun D, Ghosh P, Lehmann M, Madison CM, Weiner MW, Miller BL, Jagust WJ, Rabinovici GD. Parallel ICA of FDG-PET and PiB-PET in three conditions with underlying Alzheimer's pathology. Neuroimage: Clinical. 2014 Mar 19;4:508-16. eCollection 2014. PMID: 24818077 Abstract »
Mason AC, Rambo RP, Greer B, Pritchett M, Tainer JA, Cortez D, Eichman BF. A structure-specific nucleic acid-binding domain conserved among DNA repair proteins. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science U S A. 2014 May 12. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 24821763 Abstract »
Mattsson N, Tosun D, Insel PS, Simonson A, Jack CR Jr, Beckett LA, Donohue M, Jagust W, Schuff N, Weiner MW; Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative. Association of brain amyloid-β with cerebral perfusion and structure in Alzheimer's disease and mild cognitive impairment. Brain. 2014 May;137(Pt 5):1550-61. Epub 2014 Mar 12. PMID: 24625697 Abstract »
McTernan PM, Chandrayan SK, Wu CH, Vaccaro BJ, Lancaster WA, Yang Q, Fu D, Hura GL, Tainer JA, Adams MW. Intact functional fourteen-subunit respiratory membrane bound [NiFe]-hydrogenase complex of the hyperthermophilic archaeon pyrococcus furiosus. The Journal of Biological Chemistry. 2014 May 23. pii: jbc.M114.567255. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 24860091 Abstract »
Mulvihill MM, Benjamin DI, Ji X, Le Scolan E, Louie SM, Shieh A, Green M, Narasimhalu T, Morris PJ, Luo K, Nomura DK. Metabolic profiling reveals PAFAH1B3 as a critical driver of breast cancer pathogenicity. Chemical Biology. 2014 Jun 17. pii: S1074-5521(14)00178-1. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 24954006 Abstract »
Pelissier FA, Garbe JC, Ananthanarayanan B, Miyano M, Lin C, Jokela T, Kumar S, Stampfer MR, Lorens JB, LaBarge MA. Age-related dysfunction in mechanotransduction impairs differentiation of human mammary epithelial progenitors. Cell Reports. 2014 Jun 4. pii: S2211-1247(14)00396-9. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 24910432 Abstract »
Rout MP, Karpen GH. Editorial overview: Cell nucleus: The nucleus: a dynamic organelle. Current Opinion in Cell Biology. 2014 Jun;28:iv-vii. Epub 2014 Jun 4. PMID: 24908378 Ed. overview »
Schaudinn C, Stoodley P, Hall-Stoodley L, Gorur A, Remis J, Wu S, Auer M, Hertwig S, Guerrero-Given D, Hu FZ, Ehrlich GD, Costerton JW, Robinson DH, Webster P. Death and transfiguration in static staphylococcus epidermidis cultures. PLoS One. 2014 Jun 25;9(6):e100002. eCollection 2014. PMID: 24964210 Abstract »
Toledo JB, Weiner MW, Wolk DA, Da X, Chen K, Arnold SE, Jagust W, Jack C, Reiman EM, Davatzikos C, Shaw LM, Trojanowski JQ; Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative. Neuronal injury biomarkers and prognosis in ADNI subjects with normal cognition. Acta Neuropatholical Communications. 2014 Mar 6;2(1):26. PMID: 24602322 Abstract »
Villeneuve S, Reed BR, Madison CM, Wirth M, Marchant NL, Kriger S, Mack WJ, Sanossian N, DeCarli C, Chui HC, Weiner MW, Jagust WJ. Vascular risk and Aβ interact to reduce cortical thickness in AD vulnerable brain regions. Neurology. 2014 Jun 6. pii: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000000550. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 24907234 Abstract »
Wallace DL, Aarts E, Dang LC, Greer SM, Jagust WJ, D Esposito M. Dorsal striatal dopamine, food preference and health perception in humans. PLoS One. 2014 May 7;9(5):e96319. eCollection 2014. PMID: 24806534 Abstract »
Wehrl HF, Wiehr S, Divine MR, Gatidis S, Gullberg GT, Maier FC, Rolle A-M, Schwenk J, Thaiss WM, Pichler BJ. Preclinical and translational PET/MR imaging. Journal of Nuclear Medicine. 55(Suppl 2):11S–18S, June 1, 2014 Abstract »
Wirth M, Villeneuve S, La Joie R, Marks SM, Jagust WJ. Gene-environment interactions: lifetime cognitive activity, APOE genotype, and beta-amyloid burden. Journal of Neuroscience. 2014 Jun 18;34(25):8612-7. PMID: 24948815 Abstract »
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Four Berkeley Lab scientists are among the 35 researchers selected by the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Science to receive significant funding for research as part of DOE’s Early Career Research Program. Lab awardees include the Chemical Sciences Division’s Rebecca Abergel, the Accelerator and Fusion Research Division’s Daniele Filippetto, the Material Sciences Division’s Alexander Weber-Bargioni, and the Life Sciences Division’s Trent Northen. Northen’s research, “Understanding microbial carbon cycling in soils using novel metabolomics approaches,” was selected for funding by DOE’s Office of Biological & Environmental Research (BER). His program will provide an urgently needed complement to DNA sequencing that will enable the understanding and mathematical modeling of soil carbon cycling, ultimately improving our ability to predict and mitigate the effects of climate change. The effort, now in its fifth year, is designed to bolster the nation’s scientific workforce by providing support to exceptional researchers during the crucial early career years, when many scientists do their most formative work. More »
Adapted from Berkeley Lab Today, May 8, 2014
Janet Jansson (PNNL, previously of Berkeley Lab) and a team of Berkeley Lab researchers including Antoine Snijders, Jian-Hua Mao, Manfred Auer of Life Sciences and Hoi-Ying Holman of Earth Sciences received funding from the Office of Naval Research to study host-intestinal microbial interactions in response to specific stressors, with a long-term goal of identifying new strategies to increase warfighter resilience to stress resulting in reductions in infection, traumatic injuries and enhanced performance. Stressors such as those experienced during training or deployment can potentially lead to serious physical or psychological impacts.
In the four year project, the research team will investigate the influence of gut microbiome-host interactions on stress induced by altered sleep patterns. The proposed investigations utilizes diverse murine models to identify whether stress induced by altered sleep cycles experienced by personnel on submarines affects the composition of the gut microbiome, potentially resulting in altered motor function and anxiety. In addition, the research team will apply state-of-the-art and novel imaging technologies to determine the impact of altered sleep cycles on gut and brain tissue metabolites and host-microbe interactions. Studies of mechanisms underlying environmentally induced changes in the microbiome and how they affect host health are an ongoing area of research in the Earth Sciences and Life Sciences Divisions.
Newomics Inc., an early stage biotechnology company in Emeryville, CA that commercializes innovative (New) and integrative (Omics) platforms and solutions for personalized healthcare, has received two Small Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I grants from the National Institutes of Health totaling $908,000. In a statement, Newomics said that it plans to use the funding to hire two PhD-level scientists "to complement its technical team." Currently, the company consists solely of founders Daojing Wang and Pan Mao.
The company’s proprietary technology is based on silicon-microfluidic-chip for liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS), and offers unprecedented robustness, sensitivity, specificity, and throughput for analyzing molecules from minute amounts of biospecimens such as blood and urine. Their core technologies are built upon the multinozzle emitter array (MEA) technology which was invented at Berkeley Lab and has won the 2012 R&D 100 award.
The Multinozzle Emitter Array (MEA) has been called a "game changer" in the use of mass spectrometry to analyze biomolecules in microfluidic chips because it enables researchers to perform global analysis of nucleic acids, proteins and metabolites from a single cell. The MEA development team at that time included Wang and Mao, then of Berkeley Lab's Life Sciences Division; Peidong Yang of Berkeley Lab's Materials Sciences Division; and Hung-Ta Wang, who is now at the University of Alabama.
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In two different events, in May and June, Life Sciences Division members came together to honor the careers of three colleagues who retire at the end of June: Gail Mosley, the senior supervisor of administrative services who joined the Division just over 20 years ago; Kathleen Bjornstad, a research associate staff with the Blakely lab and Abergel lab, a longtime member of the Lab Diversity and Inclusion Council as well as the Division Safety Committee, who joined the Division nearly 34 years ago; and Karen Dickinson-Mazzei, proposals group manager since December 2009, who concludes 24 years of service to the University of California, most of them at the University of California, San Francisco.
The Life Sciences Division, on June 20, kicked off the Distinguished Biosciences Lecture series with an Inaugural Lecture on Stem Cells in Silence, Action and Cancer by Elaine Fuchs, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator and Rebecca C. Lancefield Professor, The Rockefeller University. Fuchs is one of the top researchers in stem cell research and past president of the International Society of Stem Cell Research; she is a recipient of many awards and a member of the National Academy of Sciences and its Institute of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society.
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Carmen Escobar, an administrator in the Environmental Energy Technologies Division’s (EETD) Building Technology and Urban Systems Department (BTUS), passed away on May 10 after battling through serious illness for months. She was 54 years old. Escobar previously worked at the Advanced Light Source and in the Life Sciences Division (until 2006) before coming to EETD in 2009. She worked as a contractor from 1999 to 2003, when she became a career employee in the Life Sciences Division. Prior to the Lab, she worked at UC Berkeley, where she obtained her undergraduate degree in history and met her future husband. She leaves her husband, Roy Robles, and her son Felipe.
Rick Diamond of EETD’s Residential and Commercial Building Systems Groups, which Escobar supported, recalled that “Carmen was a warm and kind individual, always willing to help others. I asked her right at the deadline if she could translate a flier for ‘Energy Upgrade California’ into Spanish, and gave her my rough draft. She did the work over her lunch break, and said, ‘Rick, your draft was worse than Google translator.’” A private memorial was held for her by her family and close friends. Donations in her name can be made to the East Bay SPCA where she had hoped to expand her volunteer hours when possible. Read Escobar’s brief obituary here.
Chris Ramsey, an engineer who worked on programs in the Life Sciences, Materials Sciences, and Nuclear Science Divisions, passed away on April 19 after a brief bout with cancer. He was 49 years old. He was a member of the Life Sciences Radiotracer Development and Imaging Technologies group and the Materials Sciences Scintillator Discovery and Development group. He joined the Lab in 2000. A memorial service was held, June 11 at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley. Go here to read a remembrance written by his colleagues.
Adapted from Today at Berkeley Lab, May 20, 2014
Profiles of Andrea Mercado, David Schild, and Amanda Krieger celebrate the diversity and inclusion of employees. — By Theresa Duque
Every June, Berkeley Lab festoons the main Blackberry Gate entrance with the rainbow flag, reminding employees and visitors that this month is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month. In honor of the Lab’s LGBT community, the following portraits of Andrea Mercado, David Schild, and Amanda Krieger celebrate a diverse and inclusive workforce where employees are free to be themselves. Continue here.
Schild, a staff scientist in the Life Sciences Division, together with Shraddha Ravani, represents the Division in the Lab Diversity & Inclusion Council.
Today at Berkeley Lab, June 24, 2014
Who will you be rooting for during the FIFA World Cup football competition? Lab members haves been invited to submit a photo of themselves in their favorite team jersey and say how they plan to celebrate. Life Sciences Martin Gascon, physicist postdoctoral fellow in the Bizarri lab in Bldg. 55, revealed his favorite team in the June 5 Today at Berkeley Lab article here.
Tereza Sputova, research assistant, Garbe lab, per June 25
Persiana Simone Saffari, student assistant, Parvin lab, per June 23
Faisal Abu-Nimeh, physicist postdoc fellow, Choong lab, per June 16
Vyoma Shah, research associate, Jagust lab, per June 16
Brian Lee Xiao, student assistant, Bizarri lab, per June 10
Jennifer Ito, student assistant, Choong lab, per June 2
Alexandra G Walling, student assistant, Northen lab, per June 2
Jennifer Adams, administrator, Bissell office, per May 27
Sejal Mistry, research assistant, Kohwi-Shigematsu lab, per May 1
Kathleen A Bjornstad, research associate staff, Blakely lab, per June 28
Gail L Mosley, sr. supervisor, admin services, per June 28
Alan G Raetz, biologist special postdoc, Cooper lab, per June 28
Matthew Christopher Gallo, research assistant, Kohwi lab, per June 17
Daniel Hartono, student assistant, Northen lab, per June 17
Stanley Garnin Leung, research assistant, Wiese lab, per June 1
Claudia Wiese, biologist staff scientist, per June 1
Accepted an assistant professor position at the Colorado State University, Environmental and Radiological Health Sciences Department
James E Berleman, biologist project scientist/engineer, Auer lab, per June 1
Kester Savio Coutinho, research assistant, Auer lab, per June 1
Virginia Lam, student assistant, Butland lab, per May 31
Judee Amala Sharon, student assistant, Kohwi lab, per May 31
David Hampton, animal technician 2, per May 1
Manpreet Kaur, student assistant, Northen lab, per May 1
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