Department of Quantitative and Computational Biology
I want to welcome everyone back to the Spring Semester 2023. I hope you all had a relaxing winter break and were able to see family and friends. Now, we are back together, planning this semester and next steps for our department.
While you were away, we have been successful in hiring new staff members. I am excited about our new administration, because I am convinced that it is the best we have ever had. I want to thank Rokas, our Program Manager, for helping to rebuild a wonderful team. We would like to welcome Tanya and Christian to our team!
I want to also welcome Dr. Helen Berman who joined QCB as a Professor (Research). Helen is the co-founder of the Protein Data Bank and a pioneer in computational structural biology. With Helen, the number of women in the QCB core faculty has grown fivefold in recent years.
I hope you all enjoy the spring semester!
Pictured: Christian Robbie, MFA (left), Tanya Moore (middle), and Helen Berman, PhD (right).
Christian has joined QCB as a Student Services Advisor in early January. He was an undergraduate advisor in Dornsife prior to joining QCB. He will work with QCB's Ph.D. ad Master's students, and his office is located in RRI 408F.
Tanya is joining QCB from the USC Office of Admissions, as our Administrative Assistant II. She will start with QCB on February 9th, and her office will be located in RRI 415.
Dr. Helen Berman is a Board of Governors Professor Emerita of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Rutgers University. She is the former director of the RCSB Protein Data Bank. Dr. Berman is also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a Fellow of the International Society for Computational Biology.
Washington, D.C. - Dr. Remo Rohs was elected a lifetime Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). He is honored "For integrating structural biology and genomics with high-throughput methods to predict the three-dimensional structure of DNA, which allowed the prediction of transcription factor-DNA binding and revealed mechanisms of protein-DNA recognition." See the Dornsife announcement here.The Rohs lab recently published a new PNAS paper led by Dr. Tsu-Pei Chiu. In this study, they propose a new DNA encoding scheme based on the physicochemical groups of the base pairs in the DNA major and minor grooves, rather than the DNA sequence. This allows for description of chemical modifications, mismatched base pairs, or synthetic base pairs. The preferences of DNA binding proteins for chemical groups are learned using a deep learning method. Read more in PNAS here.Dr. Jazlyn Mooney gave a talk at the 30th annual Plant and Animal Genomics Conference in San Diego, last weekend. She discussed the first whole-genome sequencing study, based on a paper she recently published, for Ethiopian wolves -- one of the most endangered canids in the world. Read her paper here.Dr. Steve Kay published a paper in PNAS on the role a Circadian regulator, BMAL1::CLOCK, plays in cell proliferation in liver cancer. This study, which revealed BMAL1::CLOCK as a potential target for anticancer therapies, was highlighted in a press release by the Keck School of Medicine. Take a closer look at the paper here, and the Keck press release here.
Four QCB faculty members, Drs. Steve Kay, Seva Katritch, Arthur Toga, and Paul Thomas, were recognized as 2022 Clarivate Highly Cited Researchers, for "[demonstrating] significant and broad influence reflected in their publication of multiple highly cited papers over the last decade." The full list of recognized researchers can be found here. Dr. Adam MacLean wrote a News & Views article for Nature Chemical Biology on a recent discovery about differentiating stem cells -- that they can communicate over far greater distances than previously known, exhibit quorum sensing-like behavior. Read the paper here.
QCB joint faculty member Dr. Serghei Mangul led a team that published their comments about the most effective ways to help Ukrainian scientists and research communities in the journal Science. Read about it here.
Please welcome two postdocs to the QCB department in Dr. Geoffrey Fudenberg's group! Pictured are Dr. Hadi Rahmaninejad (left) and Dr. Maxime Tortora (right).
Upcoming Events & Seminars
February 2nd (2-3 pm, RRI 101): Seminar on "Variation in GPCR Signaling: Implications for Drug Discovery." By Dr. Madan Babu, Endowed Chair and Director of the Center of Excellence for Data Driven Discovery, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.February 24th (10 am-5 pm, MCB 101): Drug Discovery Innovation Workshop on new drug discovery and development techniques, including computational, that were recently developed at Dornsife and Viterbi. The workshop is a joint effort of the recently established Center for New Technologies in Drug Discovery and Development (CNT3D), co-directed by Dr. Seva Katritch, as well as MESH academy and Bridge Institute. It aims to bring together the drug discovery community at USC and the greater LA area.
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