PhD candidate Nicolas Altemose, of Professor Aaron Streets’ lab, has been named a Hanna Gray Fellow by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. This prestigious fellowship grants eight full years of funding for exceptional early career scientists. Gray Fellows have the freedom to change their research focus and follow their curiosity for the duration of the award. Nicolas will begin his postdoctoral work with new mentor Gary Karpen, PhD, also at UC Berkeley, this summer.
Congratulations to graduate group faculty Tamara Alliston, Grace O’Connell, Laura Waller, and Duan Xu, and to BioE PhD alumnae Karen Cheung, now a professor at the University of British Columbia, and Amina Qutub, now a professor at the University of Texas, San Antonio! All are new members of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering College of Fellows.
BioE graduate student Connor Tsuchida talks about the experience of working in Nobel prize-winning labs.
PhD alumni Lily Peng (2012) and Kate Rosenbluth (2009) have been named to the 2020 Fortune Magazine “40 Under 40”, an annual list of 40 young professionals of exceptional talent and influence in their fields. Peng, now Product Manager at Google Health, aims to bring health care to the masses through the use of artificial intelligence. She has personally designed algorithms including the firm’s diabetes-related eye disease detection program. Rosenbluth, Founder and CEO of Cala Health, has designed an FDA-cleared wrist device that eases hand tremors for the 7 million Americans who suffer from essential tremors.
Berkeley Bioengineering Professor Sanjay Kumar and UCSF Bioengineering & Therapeutic Sciences Professor Emeritus Patricia Babbitt have been elected to the 2020 class of Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Kumar was recognized for his “distinguished contributions to the field of bioengineering, particularly the development of biomaterial and single-cell technologies to investigate mechanobiological signaling in health and disease,” and Babbitt for “distinguished contributions to the field of computational biology and bioinformatics particularly related to protein structure/function and applications to drug target identification and drug design.”
PROVEN, the world’s first microbial biofertilizer for cereal crops, has been named one of the 100 Best Inventions of 2020 by Time Magazine. Developed by PivotBio, a BioE spinout company founded by Karsten Temme, PhD 2010, the product replaces synthetic solutions with nitrogen-fixing microbes, which capture nitrogen from the air and convert it into a form that plants can use.
On Tuesday BioE-founded company Lucira’s product became the first rapid, at-home COVID-19 test authorized by the Food and Drug Administration. The test uses their loop-mediated amplification reaction process to detect whether an individual is shedding the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The company was developing this technology for an at-home influenza test before rapidly pivoting to address COVID-19. Lucira is led by Debkishore Mitra (PhD 2013), who founded the company with John Waldeisen (PhD 2012).
In this virtual lab tour, Gokul Ramadoss from the Conklin Lab, and Serah Kang, from the McDevitt Lab – two labs in the Bioengineering Graduate Program – talk about their recent study that highlights the effects of SARS-CoV-2 on the heart.
Congratulations to UCSF Professor Ed Chang, Jeanne Robertson Distinguished Professor and Joan and Sandy Weill Chair of the Department of Neurological Surgery, elected to the National Academy of Medicine.
UC San Francisco has 11 specialties ranked in the top 10 in U.S. News & World Report’s Best Global Universities 2021 rankings. This year’s rankings, released Oct. 20, highlight UCSF’s continuing strength in health sciences research. UCSF ranked second in Immunology and Neuroscience; third in Cell Biology, Clinical Medicine and Microbiology; fourth in Molecular Biology and Genetics; fifth in Infectious Diseases and Surgery; sixth in Biology and Biochemistry, and Oncology; and 10th in Public, Environmental and Occupational Health.
Dr Adam Hickenbotham, PhD 2012, has been named the Founding Dean of the new College of Optometry being developed at Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions. Hickenbotham also has a doctorate in optometry from UC Berkeley, more than 17 years of clinical experience, and has been instrumental in developing optometry education at the University of Pikeville and Tusculum University.
Jennifer Doudna, Berkeley Professor of Chemistry and Molecular & Cell Biology and faculty member of the Berkeley-UCSF Graduate Program in Bioengineering, won the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, sharing it with colleague Emmanuelle Charpentier for the co-development of CRISPR-Cas9, a genome editing breakthrough that has revolutionized biomedicine!
Congratulations to five Berkeley-based bioengineers named to the 2021 class of Siebel Scholars! Nicolas Altemose is developing microfluidic and molecular tools for studying genome regulation in single cells; Tiffany Chien is building a flexible simulation framework for calcium neuron imaging, simulating the 3D physical sample and the lens-less imaging system; Anjali Gopal is investigating the progression and resistance mechanisms of HER2 isoforms in HER2+ breast cancer via simultaneous single-cell proteoform and RNA sequencing measurements; Marc Lim is studying the physiological transport of three-helix-micelle (3HM) nanocarriers in solid tumors; Zoë Steier has developed totalVI, a computational framework for the joint probabilistic analysis of paired transcriptome and proteome measurements in single cells; and Alison Su is designing and validating measurement tools and workflows for biomedical applications ranging from bench to bedside.
A new study led by graduate program faculty members Todd McDevitt and Bruce Conklin helps explain how SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, inflicts damage on heart cells. The team’s findings, shared publicly on bioRxiv, show the virus’s unexpected effects on the structure of heart cells in the lab, as well as in heart tissue from COVID-19 patients.
UCSF Health’s Medical Center was rated #8 nationally, #3 in California and #1 in the San Francisco metro area. The hospital ranked among the top 10 hospitals nationwide in 10 specialty areas: cancer; diabetes and endocrinology; geriatrics; nephrology; neurology and neurosurgery; ophthalmology; psychiatry; pulmonology; rheumatology; and urology. In addition, UCSF Medical Center was noted as the Best in the West in diabetes, neurology and neurosurgery, rheumatology and urology.
Congratulations to recent BioE PhD Julea Vlassakis, now a postdoctoral scholar in Amy Herr’s lab, one of eight US scholars receiving a 2020 Burroughs Wellcome Fund Career Award at the Scientific Interface. Scholars receive $500,000 over five years to bridge advanced postdoctoral training and the first three years of faculty service.
“I am incredibly honored to be selected for this award and am grateful for the support of many within the BioE and UC Berkeley research communities, especially Dr. Herr,” says Vlassakis. The award recognizes Dr. Vlassakis’ research in single-cell proteomics in the Herr lab, and provides funding towards Vlassakis’ long-term goals to unravel roles of protein complexes in pediatric cancers with novel micro and nano-scale biochemical and biophysical instrumentation.
UC Berkeley EECS Professor Rikky Muller, member of the graduate program, is one of three scholars to win 2020 McKnight Technological Innovations in Neuroscience Awards, recognizing projects with the ability to fundamentally change the way neuroscience research is conducted. Muller is designing and building a high-speed holographic projector that can project 3D light into the brain at neural speeds, many times faster than current projectors, and so manipulate thousands of optogenetically-controlled neurons with high precision.
Professor Jennifer Doudna and BioE PhD student Connor Tsuchida are among the team that discovered CasΦ (Cas-phi) proteins, which have advantages over current genome-editing tools when they must be delivered into cells to manipulate crop genes or cure human disease.
Bioengineering graduate student Gabriela Lomeli interviewed five scientists who have pivoted their research during COVID-19 to write decontamination guidelines for personal protective equipment.
Seth Shipman, graduate group faculty member and Assistant Professor of Bioengineering & Therapeutic Sciences at UCSF, is one of 22 early-career researchers selected this year to join the Pew Scholars in the Biomedical Sciences. A rare honor, Pew Scholars receive 4 years of funding to invest in foundational research to pursue scientific breakthroughs and advance human health
PhD alumnus Stanley Qi, Assistant Professor of Bioengineering at Stanford, developed a technique called Prophylactic Antiviral CRISPR or PAC-MAN. Working with Lawrence Berkeley Lab, his team has adapted the technique, which uses enzyme Cas13, a virus killer, and a strand of guide RNA, to commands Cas13 to destroy specific nucleotide sequences in the coronavirus’s genome.
Congratulations to our students awarded 2020-21 UCSF Graduate Division Fellowships!
Jake Bieber – Achievement Award for College Scientists (ARCS) Scholarship
Hecong Qin – Fletcher Jones Fellowship
Alonso Torres – NIGMS Initiative for Maximizing Student Development (IMSD) Fellowship
Graduate program faculty member Todd McDevitt and collaborators at the Gladstone Institute are investigating how COVID-19 might damage the heart by asking two questions: How susceptible are the cells in the heart to infection by the virus, and what pharmaceuticals could be used to lessen damage to the heart or prevent the virus from infecting heart cells altogether?
Alumnus Richard Novak, now a senior staff engineer at the Wyss Institute at Harvard University, helped design and rush to production a more economical nasal swab for COVID-19 testing. Swabs are in short supply and thousands of their new design should be in clinical hands within weeks.
Congratulations to incoming and current PhD students who have been awarded new NSF Graduate Research Fellowships!
Congratulations to current PhD students Joann Gu, Melod Mehdipour, and Hannah Schmitz; and incoming doctoral students Ilina Bhaya-Grossman, Jessica Herrera, Nicholas Higgins, Claire Hilburger, Kevin Joslin, and Lucas Waldburger.