Jun 15, 2015

The UCSB Graduate Division has named MCDB PhD graduate Patrick Keeley as the recipient of the Winifred and Louis Lancaster Dissertation Award in the field of Biological and Life Sciences. The award recognizes the best Ph.D. dissertation in a given discipline during 2013-2015. Patrick also will be UCSB's nominee in the international competition sponsored by the Council of Graduate Schools.

Jun 1, 2015

In a new study that focuses on locomotion in the fruit fly — a relatively simple animal that exhibits many of the same behaviors as humans and other mammals — MCDB’s Craig Montell and his research team have identified a transient receptor potential (TRP) channel that plays a key role in the insect’s fine motor coordination. Their research is published in the journal Nature Communications.

May 5, 2015

A UCSB symposium features cutting-edge developments in molecular and cellular approaches to understanding brain structure and function.


Some of the most profound conditions affecting humans — from Alzheimer’s disease and autism to schizophrenia and bipolar disorder — are neurological in origin. Yet despite decades of research, the brain and its related diseases remain largely a mystery.


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Apr 29, 2015

MCDB scientists make new discoveries about a specific protein and its effects on the final step of cell division. A new study conducted by in the laboratory of Zach Ma in MCDB reveals a novel function for WDR5, a protein known for its critical role in gene expression whereby information encoded in genes is converted into products like RNA (ribonucleic acid) and protein. In cells, WDR5 is a subunit of a five-protein complex. Mutations in members of this complex can result in childhood leukemia and other disorders affecting numerous organ systems in the body. The UCSB team worked with WDR5 in cultured human cell lines. The results of the study appear in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

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Feb 25, 2015

UCSB researchers examine a shape-shifting protein in the brain to learn more about how form affects function. Like the shape-shifting robots of “Transformers” fame, a unique class of proteins in the human body also has the ability to alter their configuration. These so-named intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs) lack a fixed or ordered three-dimensional structure, which can be influenced by exposure to various chemicals and cellular modifications.

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Nov 19, 2014

Goleta teacher and MCDB academic outreach coordinator Molly Rothman has won the national “Teachers Bringing Science to Life” contest and will receive $1,000 and a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) classroom makeover. The contest is sponsored by the National 4-H Council and Lockheed Martin as an ongoing collaboration to get American youth engaged in STEM education.

Nov 13, 2014

Stem cell pioneer James A. Thomson and his research team have discovered a way to impose an immortal-like state on mouse progenitor cells responsible for producing blood and vascular tissue. By regulating a small number of genes, the cells became “trapped” in a self-renewing state and capable of producing functional endothelial, blood and smooth muscle cells. The findings, to be published in the Dec. 9, 2014, issue of Stem Cell Reports now appear online, point to a potential new approach to developing cells in the lab environment for use in drug screening and therapies and as a basic research tool.

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Nov 12, 2014

With no cure, no approved treatment and no known means of slowing its progression, polycystic kidney disease is a biomedical cold case that affects more than 600,000 people in the U.S. alone — and some 12 million worldwide. Hoping to crack that case with science, MCDB professor Thomas Weimbs is working to develop a new therapeutic approach by targeting the mechanism that causes the cysts to grow. A new gift to his lab by the Lillian Goldman Charitable Trust of New York is providing a big boost to that effort.

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Oct 28, 2014

It’s the most common cause of death in American hospitals and among the top five killers worldwide, but sepsis remains largely under the radar in conversations about public health — and in promising treatments.

A biomedical scientist at UC Santa Barbara may have a hand in reversing both those trends, thanks to his novel therapeutic approach and a big new grant from the National Institutes of Health.

Oct 6, 2014

MCDB’s Denise Montell is the recipient of a 2014 Pioneer Award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The annual award recognizes a select group of scientists whose bold and innovative “pioneering” approaches have the potential to make an unusually high impact on a broad area of biomedical or behavioral research. Montell, the Duggan Professor of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, and her research team at UCSB define and solve fundamental questions in cell and developmental biology using fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) genetics, mammalian cell culture and state-of-the-art imaging approaches. Her team and their collaborators recently discovered a surprising reversibility of the cell suicide process known as apoptosis. Cells that have progressed beyond steps previously considered to be points of no return can reverse the dying process, recover and go on to proliferate. Depending on the circumstances, this has the potential for significant consequences, both positive and negative.

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