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December 2017

To strengthen the translational and applied expertise on the campus IALS has contributed to hiring a number of faculty with translational research interests. These hires are in partnership with a number of departments across campus.

Wei Cui, PhD (VASCI, Sept ’17) Prof. Cui is an expert in creating disease-relevant animal models. His expertise includes Zinc finger nucleases, TALEN, and CRISPPR/Cas9 technologies to introduce mutations in the genome of rodents.

David Sela, food science and CBD, with co-authors Hang Xiao and Julian McClements, report results of their study conducted in mice of one of these preservative compounds, food-grade epsilon (ε)-polylysine, in the Nature Springer journal, Science of Food.

Antimicrobial compounds added to preserve food during storage are believed to be benign and non-toxic to the consumer, but there is “a critical scientific gap in understanding the potential interactions” they may have with the hundreds of species of microbes in our intestines, says Sela.

Graduate student Libbie Haglin's (Thompson group, chemistry and M2M) work on chemotaxis receptors was featured on the cover of the November 2017 issue of Biochemistry. Read the full article entitled, "His-Tag-Mediated Dimerization of Chemoreceptors Leads to Assembly of Functional Nanoarrays." Biochemistry 56 (44), 5847-5966 (2017).

Lynmarie Thompson, chemistry and M2M, was awarded a two year, $615,000 NIH grant entitled, "Assembly and Function of Bacterial Chemotaxis Receptor Signaling Complexes.” The goal of this project is to assemble native-like functional nanoarrays of chemotaxis receptor complexes and determine how the proteins change their structure and dynamics during signaling. Understanding signaling in this system may be useful for the development of novel antibiotics targeting similar signaling systems that are widespread in bacteria.

Derek Lovley, microbiology and M2M, and his team at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, who is internationally known for having discovered electrically conducting microfilaments or “nanowires” in the bacterium Geobacter, announce in a new paper this month that they have discovered the unexpected structures in many other species, greatly broadening the research field on electrically conducting filaments. Details appear online in the International Society of Microbial Ecology Journal.

The International Union of Food Science and Technology (IUFoST) honored University of Massachusetts Amherst food scientist David Julian McClements with its 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award at a ceremony in Frankfurt, Germany, on Nov. 30, recognizing his “pre-eminence in and contributions to the field of food science and technology over his career.”

Physics Professor Jenny Ross talks about her work—including building innovative light microscopes—what made her fall in love with physics, and the importance of bringing new perspectives to the field.

In a recent review of the scientific literature, award-winning food scientist David Julian McClements (CBD) and his colleague Hang Xiao (CBD) at the University of Massachusetts Amherst conclude that nanoparticle safety in food should be judged on a case-by-case basis, for example, depending on whether the particles are organic or inorganic, natural or engineered, as well as on the properties of the foods they are eaten with.

The Mass Spectrometry Core Facility hosted a workshop on November 28th focused on Metabolomics and Lipidomics, sponsored by Waters Corporation. This aspect of the “omics” pipeline is focused on small molecules and their metabolites and how changes in their concentrations can be used to understand changes in metabolic pathways in organisms resulting from external stimuli (e.g. drug therapy, dietary changes) or as biomarkers of disease. Dr. Suraj Dhungana from Waters Corp.