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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics

Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biophysics
141 Chalmers Hall
Manhattan, KS 66506
785-532-7278 fax

Biotechnology Core Facility
206 Burt Hall
785-532-6297 fax

Biomolecular NMR Facility
37 Chalmers Hall

Recent Department Achievements

Faculty Achievements

  • Jianhan Chen received a K-INBRE Bridging Grant for "Modulation of p53 structure and function by cancer-associated mutations," $40,000 (direct); $52,000 (total), 9/1/15 - 4/30/16.
  • Michal Zolkiewski received a K-INBRE Bridging Grant for "Molecular chaperones of Ehrlichia chaffeensis,” $52,000, 9/1/15 - 4/30/16.
  • Michael Kanost received a grant from NIH for "Proteinase systems in insect hemolymph, Administrative supplement for equipment," 4/1/15 - 3/31/16, $150,000. 
  • Timothy Durrett received a grant from US Department of Energy, Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program for “Optimization and production of acetyl-triacylglycerols for use as fuels, lubricants, and specialty chemicals,” $217,531 (sub award of $38,539 to KSU), 2/1/15 - 11/1/15.
  • Brian Geisbrecht received a grant from NIH/NIAD for "Inhibition of the Classical & Lectin Complement Pathways by Staphylococcus aureus Eap," $187,500 for 2015.
  • Timothy Durrett received a grant from USDA-NIFA for "Targeted engineering of Camelina seed biochemistry to synthesize valuable oleochemical feedstocks," $490,000, 1/15/15 - 1/14/19.
  • Tomich, JM., and Sukthanka, PR., submitted a provisional patent "Multifunctional Gold Nanoparticle-Peptide Bilayer Complexes" dated November 5, 2014.
  • Anna Zolkiewska was invited to serve as a permanent member of an NIH study section (Molecular Oncogenesis) for the 2016-2022 term (Sept 2015).
  • Lawrence Davis served with Larry Erickson as the program committee for the 12th International Conference of the International Phytotechnologies Society in Manhattan, KS, Sept 27-30. More than 200 people, representing over 25 countries were in attendance. About 80 posters and more than 150 oral presentations were made. 
  • Tim Durrett chaired the session on "Genetic Modification Studies" at the 12th International Phyotechnologies Conference (Sept 27-30, Manhattan, KS).
  • Anna Zolkiewska became a member of the Faculty Senate for the 2015-2018 term (Sept 2015).
  • Michael Kanost was selected as a Fellow of the Entomological Society of America. (August 2015)
  • Jianhan Chen was selected for the review panel, National Academy of Sciences, Committee on Proposal Evaluation for Allocation of Supercomputing Time for the Study of Molecular Dynamics (2015). July 2015.
  • Jianhan Chen was invited to serve on an NIH P01 panel (BCMB), June 2015.
  • Timothy Durrett served on the Genome Canada review panel in Toronto, Canada on May 26-29, 2015.
  • John Tomich was inducted as member of National Academy of Inventors. (March 2015)
  • Anna Zolkiewska served on an NIH study section panel “Molecular Oncogenesis”, February 19-20, 2015, in Washington DC.
  • Jianhan Chen served as a Panelist for NSF CTMC Biomolecular Simulations Panel, on January 16, 2015.

Staff Achievements

  • Vishal Kumar received a K-INBRE postdoctoral fellowship funded through NIGMS for his proposal entitled, “The role of Drosophila Trim32 in progressive muscle wasting.” (May 2015)

Student Awards and Scholarships

  • Karanbir Aulakh and Catherine Kornacki (graduates, Durrett) were PhytoScholars at the 12th International Phytotechnologies Conference Sept 27-30, Manhattan, KS, which was a competitive program for graduate students to receive funding to attend the conference.
  • James Houghton (undergraduate, Durrett) received an Undergraduate Research Award from the K-State Office of Undergraduate Research & Creative Inquiry (Sept 2015).
  • Jordan Woehl (graduate, B. Geisbrecht) will be awarded an American Heart Association Pre-Doctoral Fellowship beginning July 1, 2015 for $26,000/yr. to support the remaining 2 years of his dissertation research. (May 2015)
  • Jacob Hodge (BS/MS, Zolkiewska) received a 2015/2016 Summer/Semester Scholar Award from the the Kansas IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (K-INBRE). His project is entitled: "Paracrine signaling by ADAM12 in breast cancer”.(April 2015)
Travel Awards
  • Randi Wise and Yu Qi (graduates, Zolkiewska) received Arts & Sciences Research Travel Awards to attend the Tumor Mestastasis meeting held in November in Austin, TX. The award is $800 per student.
  • Aashima Khosla (graduate, Schrick - biology) was awarded a $1,000 Sarachek Scientific Travel Award to attend the 2015 Plant Metabolic Engineering Gordon Research Conference in Waterville Valley, New Hampshire on July 19-24, 2015.
2015 Graduate Student Summer Stipends Awardees from Johnson Cancer Research Center
  • Yue Qi – mentor: Anna Zolkiewska
  • Nicole Marie Green – mentor: Erika Giesbrecht
  • Susan Whitaker – mentor: John Tomich
  • Randi Wise – mentor: Michal Zolkiewski
  • Xiaorong Liu – mentor: Jianhan Chen
  • Tam Tran – mentor: Timothy Durrett
  • Qasim Al Souhail – mentor: Michael Kanost


  • Lawrence Davis gave a platform presentation "Perennial phytotechnoloy for sustainable land management at the former military sites in Slovakia and Ukraine" at the 12th International Phytotechnologies Conference, Sept 27-20, Manhattan, KS.
  • Jianhan Chen presented, “Towards reliable atomistic simulation of disordered protein ensembles” at a CECAM Workshop on Intrinsically Disordered Proteins - Bringing together Physics, Computation and Biology in Zurich, Switzerland, Aug 18-21.
  • Jianhan Chen presented, “Towards Reliable Atomistic Simulation of Disordered Protein Ensembles”, at a workshop on "Intrinsically Disordered Proteins: Sequence, Structure, Dynamics, and Function" in Telluride, Colorado on July 11-16, 2015.
  • Timothy Durrett presented a seminar, “Targeted metabolic engineering of Camelina sativa to synthesize high levels of industrially useful lipids,” at Plant Biology 2015 Annual Meeting in Minneapolis, MN on July 26-30, 2015.
  • Michal Zolkiewski gave an oral presentation, “ClpB supports the infectious stage of Ehrlichia chaffeensis,” at the 27th Meeting of the American Society for Rickettsiology, Squaw Valley, California, June 20-23, 2015.
  • Brian Geisbrecht presented a talk, “Staphylococcus aureus as a Paradigm for Understanding Pathogen Evasion of the Complement System”, at the American Association of Immunology Annual Meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana on May 10th, 2015.

  • Alvaro Herrera (Tomich) presented his Ph.D. thesis defense, “Evaluaton of NMR Structural studies on a Family of Membrane Active Channel Froming Peptides”, on April 23, 2015.
  • Daisuke Takahashi (postdoc, Kanost) presented, “Molecular basis for the initiation of innate immune responses in Manduca sexta” at Kyushu University, Fukuoka, Japan on April 27, 2015.

Research and Exhibitions

  • Lawrence Davis was involved with 2 posters at the 12th International Phytotechnologies Conference Sept 27-30 in Manhattan, KS entitled "Boron uptake is regulated in sunflowers" and "Beneficial effects of trees at the Riley county landfill."
  • Tim Durrett presented two posters at the 12th International Phytotechnologies Conference Sept 27-30 in Manhattan, KS: “Elucidating the Regulation of Storage Lipid Synthesis in Developing Seeds” by Durrett and Karanbir Aulakh (graduate), which won second place at the poster competition; and “Progress in the production of improved biofuels: Enhancing the production of acetyl-TAGs in a transgenic oil seed crop” by Durrett, Catherine Kornacki and Tam Tran-Nguyen (graduates).
  • Mark Boatwright (graduate, Tomich) represented the department as he participated in the student poster competition session of the annual meeting of the Federation of Analytical Chemistry and Spectroscopy Societies (SciX 2015) in Providence, RI, September 27, 2015. 
  • Sunil Bansal, Jinjie Liu, Jillian Silva, Ed Cahoon, Mike Pollard, John Ohlrogge and Timothy Durrett. Targeted Metabolic Engineering of Camelina Sativa to Synthesize High Levels of Industrially Useful Lipids. Plant Biology 2015, Minneapolis, MN July 26-30, 2015. (POSTER)
  • Avila*, L.A., Aps, L., Ferreira, L.C. and Tomich, J.M. Branched amphiphilic cationic oligo-peptides for delivery of HPV-16 DNA vaccines. Gordon Research Conference Cancer Nanotechnology: Nanomedicines from Laboratory to Clinical Reality, West Dover, VT June 28-July 3, 2015 (POSTER).
  • Souhail, Q., Hiromasa, Y., Rahnamaeian, M., Vilcinskas, A., and Kanost, M.R. (2015) Characterization and regulation of expression of an antifungal peptide from hemolymph of an insect, Manduca sexta. Ninth Annual Arthropod Genomics Symposium, Manhattan, KS June 17-19, 2015 (POSTER).
  • Takahashi, D. and Kanost, M.R. (2015) Interactions between Manduca sexta ß-1,3-glucan recognition protein and hemolymph protease-14 initiate prophenoloxidase activation pathway. Ninth Annual Arthropod Genomics Symposium, Manhattan, KS June 17-19, 2015 (POSTER).
  • He, Y., Cao, X., Li, K., Hu, Y., Chen, Y., Blissard, G.W., Kanost, M.R., Jiang, H.  (2015) A genome-wide analysis of antimicrobial effector genes and their transcription patterns in Manduca sexta. Ninth Annual Arthropod Genomics Symposium, Manhattan, KS June 17-19, 2015 (POSTER).
  • He, X., Zhang, X., He, Y., Cao, X., Gunaratna, R.T., Chen, Y., Blissard, G.W., Kanost, M.R., Jiang, H. (2015) Phylogenetic analysis and expression profiling of the pattern recognition receptors: insights into molecular recognition of invading pathogens in Manduca sexta. Ninth Annual Arthropod Genomics Symposium, Manhattan, KS June 17-19, 2015).
  • Jiang, H., Cao, X., He, Y., Hu, Y., Zhang, X., Wang, Y., Zou, Z., Chen, Y., Blissard, G.W., Kanost, M.R. (2015) Sequence conservation, phylogenetic relationships, and expression profiles of nondigestive serine proteases and serine protease homologs in Manduca sexta. Ninth Annual Arthropod Genomics Symposium, Manhattan, KS June 17-19, 2015 (POSTER).
  • Hu, Y., Rao, X, Cao, X., He, Y., Zhang, X., Chen, Y., Blissard, G.W., Kanost, M.R., Yu, X., Jiang, H. (2015)  Structural features, evolutionary relationships, and transcriptional regulation of C-type lectin-domain proteins in Manduca sexta. Ninth Annual Arthropod Genomics Symposium, Manhattan, KS June 17-19, 2015 (POSTER).
  • Timothy Durrett presented a poster, “Targeted metabolic engineering of Camelina sativa to synthesize high levels of industrially useful lipids”, at the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center annual meeting in South Bend, Indiana on May 19-21, 2015.
  • Jordan Woehl (graduate, Geisbrecht, B.) presented a poster, “The Extracellular Adherence Protein from Staphylococcus aureus Inhibits the Classical and Lectin Pathways of Complement by Blocking Formation of the C3 Proconvertase,” at Immunology 2015 sponsored by the American Association of Immunologists in New Orleans, LA on May 8-12, 2015.