University of Vermont

College of Medicine

Vermont Medicine Magazine

DEPARTMENT OF Molecular Physiology & Biophysics ~ 2014 Annual Report

David Warshaw, Ph.D.’79, Chair

The Department of Molecular Physiology & Biophysics continues to garner international recognition and success in the areas of cardiovascular research, cell division, and protein structure and function. A common research focus is directed at understanding the molecular basis of cellular movement, whether associated with cell division or muscle contraction. By studying genetic alterations in cellular movement, special emphasis is directed at defining normal and diseased contractile function of the heart, blood vessels, and processes associated with cell division, e.g. chromosome segregation during mitosis. The department is considered the premier center of muscle and non-muscle cell motility research in the United States. An additional research focus is on protein molecular structure, with expertise in high-resolution three-dimensional electron microscopy.

The department faculty is involved with two highly prestigious National Institutes of Health (NIH) Program Project Grants to study genetic forms of heart failure and aortic aneurysms. These multi-investigator grants serve as the foundation for collaborative efforts within the department and across institutions (Johns Hopkins, UMass, University of Cincinnati, UTSouthwestern, and UPenn). Tereasa Ruiz, Ph.D., was awarded a new NIH multi-principal investigator award to study oral pathogens, while Jason Stumpff, Ph.D., received a March of Dimes Basal O’Connor Starter Scholar Research Award to study the regulation of chromosome movement. During this fiscally challenging time, the department continues to compete effectively for limited extramural funds, with all tenure-track faculty being funded and publishing widely, as well as serving on editorial boards for several journals.

Faculty have been honored as organizers and invited speakers at prestigious international meetings such as Kathleen Trybus, Ph.D., who co-chaired the Gordon Research Conference at Mt. Snow, Vermont, on Muscle and Molecular Motors, at which Drs. Stumpff and Warshaw were invited speakers. Matthew Lord, Ph.D., presented at the Gordon Research Conference on “Plant and Microbial Cytoskeleton” in Amherst, N.H. Dr. Warshaw was a keynote speaker at the “Myosin Binding Protein C: Past, Present and Future” meeting in Chicago, Ill. Christopher Berger, Ph.D., spoke at the World Congress of Biomechanics in Boston. Dr. Ruiz was the plenary speaker at the “Microscopy in Research Conference” in Lisbon, Portugal. Michael Radermacher, Ph.D., organized a symposium at the Microscopy & Microanalysis Meeting in Hartford, Conn. Faculty play key service roles on review panels for the NIH and National Science Foundation.

In education, faculty contribute substantially to both medical and graduate programs and have been nominated for teaching awards in the medical school curriculum. Dr. Berger serves as Director of Graduate Education for the College of Medicine and was instrumental in the successful launch of the new umbrella program in Cell, Molecular, and Biomedical Sciences. Drs. Radermacher and Ruiz continue to offer a “Practical Course on Three-dimensional Cryo Electron Microscopy of Single Particles” that attracts over 20 international scientists.

Last modified January 28 2015 02:38 PM