Brandon Govindarajoo
Brandon Govindarajoo, Ph.D. Candidate, Bioinformatics, Rackham Merit Fellowship was featured in the "Discover Rackham - Student Spotlight."

Sarah Goddard Power was widely acclaimed as a major contributor to the advancement of higher education, an advocate for affirmative action and human rights, and a champion of freedom for the international press. As a Regent of the University of Michigan for more than 12 years, Sarah Goddard Power worked tirelessly to advance the position of women and minorities in faculty and administrative roles. Each year, the Sarah Goddard Power Distinguished Service Award is given to a University of Michigan faculty member who demonstrates an unwavering commitment to the betterment of women and who have demonstrated a clear record of success and significant achievement in research and scholarship, distinguished leadership, and mentoring women. This year, Sally Camper, Professor in Human Genetics, was one of only three University of Michigan faculty to receive this award. An award ceremony will be held Wednesday, February 10, 2016 at 4:00 pm at the Michigan League, Henderson Room.

From left to right: Alexey I. Nesvizhskii, Ph.D., Philip D. King, Ph.D., JoAnn M. Sekiguchi, Ph.D., Stephen K. Fisher, Ph.D., Margit Burmeister, Ph.D., Alexander J. Ninfa, Ph.D., Richard M. Mortensen, M.D., Ph.D., and Michael Hortsch, Ph.D.
On Jan. 18, the Endowment for Basic Sciences (EBS) hosted its annual teaching awards luncheon in Palmer Commons, honoring eight outstanding faculty for excellence in classroom teaching, mentoring, and leadership in the advancement of the teaching mission. Congratulations to the 2015 EBS award recipients: Margit Burmeister, Ph.D. — Basic Sciences Teaching Award at the Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience Institute Stephen K. Fisher, Ph.D. — Basic Sciences Teaching Award in Pharmacology Michael Hortsch, Ph.D. — Basic Sciences Teaching Award in Cell and Developmental Biology Philip D. King, Ph.D. — Basic Sciences Teaching Award in Microbiology and Immunology Richard M. Mortensen, M.D., Ph.D. — Basic Sciences Teaching Award in Molecular and Integrative Physiology Alexey I. Nesvizhskii, Ph.D. — Basic Sciences Teaching Award in Computational Medicine and Bioinformatics Alexander J. Ninfa, Ph.D. — Basic Sciences Teaching Award in Biological Chemistry JoAnn M. Sekiguchi, Ph.D. — Basic Sciences Teaching Award in Human Genetics

John Hardy wins $3M Prize for our paper. Shown on FOX TV last night, judges were Cornelia I. Bargmann, Anne Wojcicki, Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Ma and Yuri Milner. The "Breakthrough" article was: Hardy, J.A. and G.A. Higgins (1992) Alzheimer's Disease: The Amyloid Cascade Hypothesis. Science. 256:184-185. PMID: 1566067

"He has served as dean since 2007, guiding the school through often challenging times to help Michigan remain one of the world’s elite institutions On Dec. 8, Dean James O. Woolliscroft, M.D., delivered his final presentation on the state of the University of Michigan Medical School in the D. Dan and Betty Kahn Auditorium of the A. Alfred Taubman Biomedical Science Research Building. He is stepping down as dean on Jan. 1, 2016. At the conclusion of the dean's presentation, Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs Marschall S. Runge, M.D., Ph.D., introduced a special video featuring faculty, staff and students, as well as colleagues and friends of Dr. Woolliscroft, paying tribute to his 10 years of outstanding leadership of the Medical School."

Study reveals non-invasive warning sign of kidney disease progression  Findings by University of Michigan, colleagues and partners could lead to earlier detection for millions at risk for chronic kidney disease progression
"University of Michigan researchers have identified an accessible, non-invasive way to identify patients at risk for progression of kidney disease. Together with the European Renal cDNA Bank and the Joint Institute for Translational and Clinical Research (a collaboration between Peking University Health Sciences Center and U-M), the U-M team found a simple, new test to identify one of the nation’s fastest growing chronic illnesses. Chronic kidney disease is a condition in which damaged kidneys cannot filter blood as well as healthy kidneys. Currently, it is estimated that over 10 million individuals suffer from chronic kidney disease, with the number of those affected continuing to rise. A U-M team led by nephrologist Matthias Kretzler, M.D., renal systems biologist Wenjun Ju, Ph.D., M.S., and bioinformatician Viji Nair, M.S., has discovered a simple test to identify patients at risk for chronic kidney disease by measuring a specific molecule in a routine urine sample. This molecule, a protein called epidermal growth factor, indicates whether the patient is at risk of end-stage kidney disease. End-stage kidney disease means an affected individual’s kidneys can no longer meet their body’s need to remove waste. A decrease in urinary epidermal growth factor protein is an early sign of diminishing kidney function and pinpoints the at-risk patient population. While not all patients with chronic kidney disease will progress to end-stage kidney disease, those that do tend to advance quickly and require dialysis or kidney transplant. They are also at an increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease. “Early identification of patients more likely to experience end-stage kidney disease is an urgent, unmet clinical need,” Kretzler says. “Right now, kidney biopsy, which involves removing a tiny sample of kidney tissue, is the standard technique used to assess kidney disease. This procedure is costly, carries a low, but significant health risk, and has limited ability to predict the future course of kidney disease.” The international research team identified epidermal growth factor as a molecule of interest in kidney disease while analyzing kidney tissue biopsies from chronic kidney disease patients across Europe and the U.S. The researchers then validated the findings in urine samples from more than 940 patients in North America, Europe and China. The research, published in Science Translational Medicine, linked decreased epidermal growth factor levels in urine to worsening kidney disease. In fact, patients with low urinary epidermal growth factor were four times more likely to worsen than those who retained epidermal growth factor function in their kidneys. “Urinary epidermal growth factor can help patients in two very important ways,” Kretzler says. “First, in clinical practice, it could be used to prioritize care to those patients most at risk of losing their kidney function.” “Second and more immediately, using urinary epidermal growth factor levels will improve and speed up clinical trials,” he adds. “Enrolling only those likely to develop specific disease endpoints can reduce the number of people needing study and ensure the trial achieves an optimal mix of patients.” The researchers note urinary epidermal growth factor has the potential to reduce trial costs by as much as 75 percent, as well as shorten the time until a medicine is widely available to all patients. According to the International Society of Nephrology, treatment of chronic kidney disease, including medical management, dialysis and kidney transplant, is very costly. In the U.S. alone, therapy for chronic kidney disease is likely to exceed $48 billion per year, and the end-stage kidney disease program consumes 6.7 percent of the total Medicare budget to care for less than 1 percent of the covered population. In China, the disease will cost the economy the equivalent of $558 billion in the U.S. over the next decade. People with early-stage chronic kidney disease tend to not notice any symptoms. Once detected, chronic kidney disease can be treated with medicines and lifestyle changes, including healthier food and beverage choices. These treatments usually decrease the rate at which chronic kidney disease worsens, but cannot prevent progression. “Understanding which patients are at risk for severe chronic kidney disease can lead to earlier and more effective treatments, thus preserving kidney function and helping patients lead longer and healthier lives,” Kretzler says. Authors: In addition to Kretzler, Ju and Nair, the study’s authors from U-M include Shahaan Smith, Kerby Shedden, Ph.D., Peter X.K. Song, Ph.D., Laura H. Mariani, M.D., Felix H. Eichinger, M.S., Celine C. Berthier, Ph.D., Ann Randolph, M.S., Jennifer Yi-Chun Lai, M.D., M.P.H., Yan Zhou, Jennifer J. Hawkins, M.P.H., Markus Bitzer, M.D., M.S., Matthew G. Sampson, M.D., and Frank C. Brosius III, M.D. Funding: Funding for the study came from the National Institutes of Health (grants R01DK079912, P30DK081943, DK083912, P30DK020572, UL1RR000433); National Institutes of Health Office of Rare Diseases Research, National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, National Institutes of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, University of Michigan, and NephCure Kidney International (grant U54DK083912); The Else Kröner-Fresenius Foundation, the European Consortium for High-Throughput Research in Rare Kidney Diseases (grant EURenOmics; European Union FP 7:305608); The University of Michigan Health System – Peking University Health Sciences Center Joint Institute for Clinical and Translational Research; Analysis of urine samples of C-PROBE patients was supported by F. Hoffman-La Roche."

Dr. Gilbert S. Omenn
"Proteomics brings genetic information to a practical level, says Gilbert Omenn, a bioinformatician at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and chair of the global Human Proteome Project (HPP). The idea of the project is to create a “complete parts list” of the human body, he says, “to fill in the many blank spots between knowing that a gene has something to do with a disease process and knowing how it really works”."

"Researchers at the University of Michigan have been awarded $2.4 million through a National Institutes of Health program to explore bold ideas that have the potential to catapult fields forward and speed the translation of research into improved health. In epigenetics, scientists study external influences on genetic changes that don't involve the actual DNA sequence. Epigenetic changes are associated with aging (e.g., increased genomic instability), disease (e.g., Rett syndrome, cancer) and environmental influences (e.g., nutrition, radiation, toxicants). In both laboratory and clinical settings, however, the inability to epigenetically target specific genes remains a significant gap in technology and treatment. Dolinoy and colleagues Maureen Sartor, associate professor of bioinformatics at the Medical School, and Christopher Faulk, assistant professor of functional genomics at the University of Minnesota, will use a class of Ribonucleic acid (RNA) called Piwi-interacting RNA (piRNA) to develop technology that will target and "turn off" genes that are likely to become defective. This is known as gene silencing."

Bryan Moyers
"Practice Better Science Writing with MiSciWriters"

Cristen Willer, Ph.D.
Cristen Willer, Ph.D., was awarded the Dean's Basic Science Research Award. This award recognizes a scientist or group of scientists identified as having made outstanding contributions to the Medical School in basic biomedical science research.