FALL 2018


First-Year BMS Students
Rotation #1

Renuk Lakshmanan

I did my Bachelor’s and Master’s in India and have been working at UF as a Research Technician for the past two years. I was always interested in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry from my school days, and I am looking forward to doing my PhD here at UF because it’s a great place to do science. I am most excited about doing research and that’s what I would always like to do.

Apart from science, I like books, music, trekking, traveling and being in nature.

Joshua Hull

I got my BS in Biology at the University of Florida in spring 2016. Since then I have been working with adeno-associated viruses in the lab of Dr. Mavis Agbandje-McKenna. I was attracted to UF's BMB program to complete my work with some of the best faculty in the country.

Jacob Combs

My name is Jacob Combs and I am from St. Louis. I graduated with a B.S. in Biochemistry at the University of Missouri this past spring. At the University I worked in a plant science lab for two years studying the interaction of a galling disease in grapevines. I did an internship with Pfizer’s Drug Safety Research and Development department in Boston during the summer of 2016 where I worked on antibody validation for an in-house cell line.

In the summer of 2017 I did an internship with Pfizer in St. Louis working on gene therapy projects that consisted of cell culture adaptations and optimizing transfections for rAAV capsids. This past summer I had an internship for a CRO owned by Eurofins where I worked on ICP-MS in their Batch Stability department.

In my free time I enjoy playing soccer, sand volleyball, and poker.

Marc McLeod

I attended the University of North Florida where I majored in Biology and Chemistry with concentrations in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, respectively.

The University of Florida's Biomedical Sciences Program attracted my attention based on the flexibility of the degree path and the diverse fields of research that the faculty offered for career development. Additionally, I was impressed by the facilities at UF and feel like I they will be a key in helping to hone my skills as a PhD student.

I am most excited about continuing my research in the biomedical field from different perspectives and learning new techniques and viewpoints to assess disease states and ascertain information about them.


McKenna Lab at International Carbonic Anhydrase Meeting

Dr. Rob McKenna and four graduate students from the McKenna and Frost labs attended the 11th International Conference on Carbonic Anhydrases meeting, June 27-30, held in Bucharest, Romania.

From left to right: Mam Mboge, Akilah Murray, Jacob Andring, Carrie Lomelino.

This group represented the UF Biochemistry & Molecular Biology department in an outstanding manner through the following oral presentations:
     - Mam Mboge (right), Frost lab, gave an oral presentation on Sulfonamide Based Targeting of UFH-001 a Novel Triple Negative, CAIX-positive Breast Cancer Cell Line, M.Y. Mboge, Z. Chen, L. Zi, C. Tu, F. Carta, C.T. Supuran, Z. Zhang, R. McKenna, C. Heldermon, S.C. Frost
     - Dr. Rob McKenna gave an oral presentation on "Seeing" Carbonic Anhydrase in Action: Towards Generating a Molecular Movie of its Catalytic Mechanism, R. McKenna, C.L. Lomelino, J.T. Andring, B.P. Mahon, Z. Fisher, C.U. Kim

Akilah Murray, Carrie Lomelino and Jacob Andring (below) presented the following posters:
     - Increasing Lipophilicity of Inhibitors Induces Conformational Changes in Human Carbonic Anhydrase II and IX, J. Andring, C.T. Suparan, M. Ilies, R. McKenna
     - Is three better than two? Structural development of the tail approach by incorporation of three tails on benzenesulfonamide scaffolds, A. Bonardi, A. Nocentini, S. Bua, C. Lomelino, R. McKenna, P. Gratteri, C.T. Supuran
     - Sweetener-Based Inhibition of Carbonic Anhydrase, C.L. Lomelino, A.B. Murray, C.T. Supuran, R. McKenna

Mentor Match Banner

Mentor Match Celebration 2018

The Fall 2017 cohort of Ph.D. graduate students have successfully selected a mentor and research concentration. The Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences recognized this important milestone with an inaugural Mentor-Match Celebration on August 16, 2018. 




Dr. Barrie P. Bode graduated in 1991 from Dr. Mike Kilberg’s lab where his research focused on the mechanism by which amino acids rapidly activate the major glutamine transport system in the liver. After doing a two-year postdoc at Monsanto in St. Louis in the Liver Labs, he went to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston where he set up and ran the Surgical Oncology Research Labs for six years as a junior faculty member, and ascended to Assistant Professor in the Harvard Medical School system. In 1999, Dr. Bode moved to Saint Louis University where he spent ten years as an Associate, then full Professor in the Department of Biology, and was a member of the SLU Liver Center and Cancer Center. His lab at MGH and SLU was funded by the National Cancer Institute where they focused on the role of glutamine transporters in hepatocellular carcinoma.  In 2008, Dr. Bode was recruited to Northern Illinois University’s Department of Biological Sciences as department chair, and is currently serving in his tenth year in the position. His lab’s research focuses on the role of amino acid transporters in tumor growth, and their viability as targeted cancer therapies. Along the way, he has trained seven PhD students, several MS students and dozens of undergraduate students.  For the last several years, most of his time has been spent on program administration in a large academic department, but research is still his passion. Dr. Bode states, "I don’t know too many people whose escalating paperwork gets them out of bed in the morning, and I’m certainly not one of them, but every week I look forward to ‘Research Fridays’ where my lab gets together for lab meetings and planning for the next experiments.”

Dr. Bode confirms that his training in the Kilberg lab and in the BMB program proved to be invaluable once he graduated from UF, as most of the positions he has held “left me to my own devices”, and his success (or failure) hinged on what skills he was able to carry with him.  In summary, Dr. Bode stated that UF’s BMB program provided a solid foundation for all his subsequent endeavors, and any success that came his way can be traced back to his training here at UF. He describes his mentor, Dr. Michael Kilberg, as a "tough but caring and excellent mentor", and Dr. Bode always thanks his mentor for that whenever he sees him.  Recently, Dr. Bode and his lab had the pleasure of having lunch with Dr. Kilberg and his wife at Experimental Biology in 2017 – and reminisced about the “old days” along with one of his lab mates, Neil Shay.  Dr. Bode describes that while in the BMB program at UF, he also forged  numerous lifelong friendships and still keeps in touch with many of them.

"All around, the BMB program and my time in Gainesville was a wonderful and transformative experience."

Dr. Bode and his lab members at Northern Illinois University.


Photos from the
Annual Graduate Education Welcome Reception

August 30 - Harrell Medical Education Building

      Dr. Thomas Rowe                                                 Adrian Tyndall, M.D., M.P.H., FACEP, FAAEM
      Associate Dean for Graduate Education            Interim Dean, College of Medicine
      Director, Graduate Program in
      Biomedical Sciences


Dr. Jörg Bungert, Professor and Graduate Coordinator, Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology


Dr. Bert Flanegan, Professor and Chair, Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology

 From left to right:
- Brett Looney and Amy Davis from the Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences
- Richanne Lamb, Human Resources, Biochemistry & Molecular Biology Department
- Akilah Murray, Graduate Student, Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
- Dr. Thomas Rowe, Associate Dean for Graduate Education and Director of the Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences

From the Biochemistry & Molecular Biology Department, from left to right and clockwise:
- Nikea Pittman, Graduate Student, Dr. Mavis Agbandje-McKenna lab
- Tori Makal, Graduate Student, Dr. Shannon Boye lab
- Nikea Pittman
- Dr. Antonette Bennett, Assistant Scientist
- Marc McLeod, 1st-year BMS student
- Dr. Mingyi Xie, Assistant Professor

From the Biochemistry & Molecular Biology Department, from left to right:
- Tori Makal, Graduate Student, Dr. Shanon Boye lab
- Renuk Lakshmanan, 1st-year BMS student
- Mario Mietzsch, Postdoc, Dr. Mavis Agbandje-McKenna lab
- Ariana Jose, Lab Technician, Dr. Mavis Agbandje-McKenna lab
- Joshua Hull, 1st-year BMS student



The University of Florida Black Graduate Student Organization in conjunction with the College of Medicine Diversity Committee are pleased to announce the 2nd Annual Diversity Graduate Research Symposium on Wednesday, October 31st, 2018 in the Reitz Union.

The symposium will include oral and poster presentations from graduate students at the University of Florida, as well as a keynote speaker, Dr. Madhukar Thakur, to highlight the importance of diversity in graduate research. The event will be interdisciplinary encompassing biological sciences, social sciences, humanities, computer science, engineering, math and physical sciences. Presentations will be judged by post-doctoral trainees and faculty. Prizes will be awarded to presentation winners and there will be a raffle for attendees. This event is open to everyone that registers.

Graduate students can submit original research abstracts (3000-character limit, ~500 words) by clicking the link below. The deadline to submit abstracts is Friday, September 28th, 2018.

Click Here to submit abstracts and register for the symposium. Registration and abstract submissions are free.






Matthew Eddy, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry
University of Florida

Monday, 9/17 - 4:00pm
DeWeese Auditorium/McKnight Brain Institute







Wednesdays     4:00pm     ARB R3-265

Dr. Gregory Hudalla                   Wed., 9/5
Assistant Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering

Dr. Liang Zhou                            Wed., 9/19
Professor, Department of Infectious Diseases and Immunology


Biochemistry & Molecular Biology

Tuesdays    4:00pm    ARB R3-265

          Sept. 4      Nikea Pittman is presenting her research
                           Structure and Function Investigation of the                             Anti-Tymor Parvovirus Lulll

          Sept. 11    Alan Carter is presenting his research

          Sept. 18    Carrie Lomelino is presenting her research

Structural Biology

Mondays    3:00pm    ARB R3-265

                                  Sept. 4       NIkea Pittman
                                  Sept. 11     Alan Carter
                                  Sept. 18     Carrie Lomelino


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