Biochemistry

In the Biochemistry Department, we are a vigorous group of scientists and trainees dedicated to the expansion and transmission of knowledge about the biological world. Our particular focus is the characterization of macromolecules and biological processes at the molecular level. Research groups in the department address the structure of biological macromolecules, the mechanisms by which they function, and the possible applications to research technology and to medicine.

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Pushing New Frontiers: U Awarded $2.5 Million to Visualize Life's Building Blocks
Research
Apr 04, 2017

Pushing New Frontiers: U Awarded $2.5 Million to Visualize Life's Building Blocks

The University of Utah is one of just five institutions in the world to be awarded a $2.5 million grant to purchase a state of the art cryo-electron microscope (cryo-EM), the Beckman Foundation announced today. The microscope, which will be able to visualize the structure of proteins and DNA at an atom-by-atom scale, will be installed in the Crocker Science Center, currently under construction on Presidents Circle. The microscope’s resolution is fine enough to see details such as the double-helix and ladder structure of DNA, said biochemistry professor Wesley Sundquist.... Read More

Biochemistry
March for Science April 22nd
Education
Apr 03, 2017

March for Science April 22nd

Biochemist Claudio Villanueva will discuss the importance of biomedical research, diversity, and the funding of the next generation of scientists at the upcoming March for Science this Saturday, April 22. The march will begin at 3pm at City Creek Park, and continue up to the Capitol, where Claudio will deliver his talk.... Read More

Biochemistry
Virus-Inspired Delivery System Transfers Microscopic Cargo Between Human Cells
Research
Nov 30, 2016

Virus-Inspired Delivery System Transfers Microscopic Cargo Between Human Cells

virus, protein design

Scientists from the University of Utah and University of Washington have developed blueprints that instruct human cells to assemble a virus-like delivery system that can transport custom cargo from one cell to another. As reported online in Nature on Nov. 30, the research is a step toward a nature-inspired means for delivering therapeutics directly to specific cell types within the body.... Read More

Biochemistry
Genome Engineering Paves the Way for Sickle Cell Cure
Oct 12, 2016

Genome Engineering Paves the Way for Sickle Cell Cure

genome engineering

A team of physicians and laboratory scientists has taken a key step toward a cure for sickle cell disease, using CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing to fix the mutated gene responsible for the disease in stem cells from the blood of affected patients. For the first time, they have corrected the mutation in a proportion of stem cells that is high enough to produce a substantial benefit in sickle cell patients.... Read More

Biochemistry
Education
Sep 22, 2016

Biochemistry's Rising Star Symposium (Sept 22-23)

Biochemistry hosts the Rising Stars Symposium on September 22nd and 23rd highlighting accomplished young scientists from across the country to share their research in Structural Biology/Imaging and Cell Biology (day 1) and Chemical Biology and Metabolism (day 2). ... Read More

Biochemistry
Snails’ Speedy Insulin
Research
Sep 12, 2016

Snails’ Speedy Insulin

diabetes

University of Utah researchers have found that the structure of an insulin molecule produced by predatory cone snails may be an improvement over current fast-acting therapeutic insulin. The finding suggests that the cone snail insulin, produced by the snails to stun their prey, could begin working in as few as five minutes, compared with 15 minutes for the fastest-acting insulin currently available. ... Read More

Biochemistry

Faculty Spotlight

Janet M.Shaw, PhD, is a Professor in the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Utah School of Medicine. A graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, she earned her PhD and carried out postdoctoral training at the University of California, Los Angeles, where she was the recipient of the Scherbaum Award for Outstanding Graduate Research and the UCLA Distinguished Scholar Award. She joined the faculty of the University of Utah in 1993 as a member of the Biology Department and moved to the Biochemistry Department in 2004. As a faculty member, she served as a member and chair of numerous committees at the Department, College and University levels, and also served as Associate Leader and Leader of the Cell Response and Regulation Program for the University of Utah Huntsman Cancer Institute.
Shaw has spent the majority of her career breaking new ground in mitochondrial biology. Her early studies focused on RNA editing, a novel form of mitochondrial RNA processing that adds and removes uridines to create start codons, stop codons and new coding regions in mitochondrial mRNAs. At the University of Utah, Shaw’s research defined new pathways regulating mitochondrial fission, fusion and movement. Her lab is currently studying the functions of these pathways in healthy and diseased cells and tissues. In 2010, her contributions were recognized by appointed as a Keith R. Porter Fellow by the Porter Endowment for Cell Biology. For more than 20 years, her scientific work has been generously and continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health, The National Science Foundation, The American Cancer Society, the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation and the CMT Foundation.   
An active champion of basic and biomedical research, Shaw worked nationally for many years as a member of public policy committees for the American Society for Cell Biology and the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. She was also a member of the national Coalition for the Life Sciences. Dr. Shaw currently spends part of her time in the Washington DC area, serving as a Senior Scientific Officer for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Janet M.Shaw, PhD, is a Professor in the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Utah School of Medicine. A graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, she earned her PhD and carried out postdoctoral training at the University of California, Los Angeles, where she was the recipient of the Scherbaum Award for Outstanding Graduate Research and the UCLA Distinguished Scholar Award. She joined the faculty of the University of Utah in 1993 as a member of the Biology Department and moved to the Biochemistry Department in 2004. As a faculty member, she served as a member and chair of numerous committees at the Department, College and University levels, and also served as Associate Leader and Leader of the Cell Response and Regulation Program for the University of Utah Huntsman Cancer Institute.

Shaw has spent the majority of her career breaking new ground in mitochondrial biology. Her early studies focused on RNA editing, a novel form of mitochondrial RNA processing that adds and removes uridines to create start codons, stop codons and new coding regions in mitochondrial mRNAs. At the University of Utah, Shaw’s research defined new pathways regulating mitochondrial fission, fusion and movement. Her lab is currently studying the functions of these pathways in healthy and diseased cells and tissues. In 2010, her contributions were recognized by appointed as a Keith R. Porter Fellow by the Porter Endowment for Cell Biology. For more than 20 years, her scientific work has been generously and continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health, The National Science Foundation, The American Cancer Society, the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation and the CMT Foundation.   

An active champion of basic and biomedical research, Shaw worked nationally for many years as a member of public policy committees for the American Society for Cell Biology and the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. She was also a member of the national Coalition for the Life Sciences. Dr. Shaw currently spends part of her time in the Washington DC area, serving as a Senior Scientific Officer for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

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