Scientist at Work: John Colbourne

John Colbourne Evolutionary biologist John Colbourne has only been genomics director of the Center for Genomics and Bioinformatics for a few years, yet he has already overseen one of the biggest genome sequencing projects in the Indiana University center's history. The recent completion of the Daphnia pulex (water flea) genome is only one of several genome projects IU CGB scientists have either led or assisted with since 2005, when Colbourne began overseeing the center's genomics activities. Colbourne, who first joined the CGB as a postdoctoral fellow in 2001, says that the quality of scientists and research associates at the CGB -- in both its genomics and bioinformatics divisions -- has made the center a sought-after partner for scientific and business development projects.  Full Story

Animal with the most genes? A tiny crustacean

Daphnia pulex

Complexity ever in the eye of its beholders, the animal with the most genes -- about 31,000 -- is the near-microscopic freshwater crustacean Daphnia pulex, or water flea. By comparison, humans have about 23,000 genes. Daphnia is the first crustacean to have its genome sequenced. The findings are part of a comprehensive report in the Feb. 4 issue of Science by members of the Daphnia Genomics Consortium, an international network of scientists led by the Center for Genomics and Bioinformatics (CGB) at Indiana University Bloomington and the U.S. Department of Energy's Joint Genome Institute.

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IU plays key role in bringing major diabetes discoveries to patients

Glucagon Structure

The purchase of Carmel-based Marcadia Biotech by Roche for what could amount to more than $500 million is described by company and Indiana University officials as a "win-win-win" situation and an example of the importance of ongoing efforts at IU to speed high-tech and potentially life-saving discoveries by its researchers to the marketplace. Marcadia, founded in 2005, focuses on treatments for diabetes and obesity, significant health concerns not only in the U.S. but worldwide. Much of the company's success is based on the research of co-founder Richard DiMarchi, Cox Professor of Biochemistry and Gill Chair in Biomolecular Science at IU Bloomington.

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Antibiotic offers potential for anti-cancer activity

Medical Science image

An antibiotic known for its immunosuppressive functions could also point the way to the development of new anti-cancer agents, researchers at the Indiana University School of Medicine have reported. The study determined that the compound, tautomycetin, targets an enzyme called SHP2, which plays an important role in cell activities such as proliferation and differentiation. Interestingly, SHP2 mutations are also known to cause several types of leukemia and solid tumors. The findings were reported in the Jan. 28, 2011, issue of the journal Chemistry and Biology.

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IU Office of Sustainability announces two grant opportunities

Dunn Woods

The Indiana University Office of Sustainability recently announced two opportunities in support of faculty research and teaching efforts related to sustainability: the Sustainability Research Development Grant program and the Sustainability Course Development Fellowships. Now in its third year, the Sustainability Research Development Grant program provides opportunities for Indiana University faculty members and graduate students to develop new, externally funded research projects related to environmental sustainability.

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Communication pathways within proteins may yield new drug targets to stop superbugs

Chorismate mutase

A School of Science at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis biophysicist has developed a new method to identify communication pathways connecting distant regions within proteins. With this tool, Andrew J. Rader, assistant professor of physics, has identified a mechanism for cooperative behavior within an entire molecule, a finding that suggests that in the future it may be possible to design drugs that target anywhere along the length of a molecule's communication pathway rather than only in a single location as they do today. The discovery holds promise for increasing the likelihood of therapeutic success.

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Increasing diversity of future life science researchers

Fountain photo

The School of Science at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis has received $943,000 from the National Science Foundation to increase the number and diversity of future life science researchers. The NSF award establishes an IUPUI Undergraduate Research Mentoring in the Biological Sciences (URM) program, which will begin in the spring of 2011. URM is designed to broaden participation of African Americans, Hispanic Americans and members of other groups historically underrepresented in science in undergraduate research and will provide them with the experience and expertise needed to succeed in doctoral programs leading to basic research careers in the biological sciences.

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Previous issue

Liang-shi Li

The Jan. 25, 2011, issue of IU Discoveries featured IU Bloomington chemist Liang-shi Li and his chemical inventions, including a sheet of carbon that catches light. Also included were stories about IU's newest class of AAAS fellows, a convenient test to screen people for diabetes, ongoing efforts to improve scientific communications using computing technologies, a new collaboration between IU and Australian National University, an IU Northwest professor's use of Lake Michigan sand dunes as a teaching lab for his students, and an IUPUI project that uses undergraduate research to search for new medicines.

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