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CBS News - March 2006


Ask your legislator to support the U's request

As you know, the Minnesota Legislature convened on March 1, The University of Minnesota has submitted a request for $206.1 million to maintain and update existing facilities and to construct several new buildings. The request is divided among the following areas:'

  • $80 million for Higher Education Asset Preservation and Replacement
  • $39.9 million for the Carlson School of Management expansion
  • 23 million for the Labovitz School of Business and Economics
  • $62 million for a science teaching and student services center
  • $60 million for a medical bioscience building
  • $4.2 million for research centers and field stations

$750,000 for visiting faculty housing at Cedar Creek Natural History Area is included in the $4.2 million for research centers and field stations.The housing is part of the plan to add 22,000 square feet of space for research, education, and outreach to Cedar Cedar Creek Natural History Area.

Governor Pawlenty's budget supports $127.6 million of the U's capital request, including several new buildings and half of the HEAPR amount but does not include the $4.2 million for outreach centers and field stations.

I urge you to contact your legislators and ask them to support the U's entire request, including funds for Cedar Creek Natural History Area. For contact information, go to

You can also join colleagues from CBS and other St. Paul campus colleges for St. Paul Day at the Capitol on Thursday, March 23. Faculty, staff, students, and alumni will attend the Senate Higher Education Committee meeting from noon to 2:30 to show support for the University of Minnesota's capital request. Brief orientation will be provided at the Capital before meetings with legislators.

Transportation to and from the St. Paul Campus and the Capital will be provided. For more information and to register, go to

Bob Elde


Science and Engineering Task Force Report

The Task Force on Collegiate Design: Science and Engineering invites CBS faculty, staff, students to participate in two town hall meetings to review and discuss preliminary recommendation to be released on March 31. Meetings are scheduled as follows.

  • Tuesday, April 4, 2006
    9:00 AM - 11:00 AM
    Room 2-122
    Molecular and Cellular Biology Building
    Minneapolis Campus
  • Friday, April 21, 2006
  • 3:30 PM - 5:30 PM
    Room 105
    Cargill Building for Microbial and Plant Genomics
    St. Paul Campus


For additional information see:

Minnesota Partnership announces new research projects

The Minnesota Partnership for Biotechnology and Medical Genomics has awarded $15 million in state-funded research support to nine research teams and five infrastructure support teams from the University of Minnesota and Mayo Clinic. The $15 million was the first installment of a state commitment to the Partnership.

Approximately $9 million will fund research projects in pancreatic cancer, tuberculosis, and brain tumors, as well as cardiovascular, neuromuscular, and autoimmune diseases. Other projects will focus on transplant rejection, drug addiction, and cancer drug development. The remaining $6 million will support equipment, software, and other infrastructure needs to enhance molecular research, genomics, proteomics, and bioinformatics.

David Largaespada (Genetics, Cell Biology, and Development) is co-investigator for a project to better understand malignant glial cell tumors in the brain, with the goal of developing new methods to find cancer genes, design treatments, and new therapies.

Gary Nelsestuen and Carrie Wilmot (Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Biophysics) will participate in teams providing infrastructure support'Nelsestuen in proteomics and bioinformatics; Wilmot in using x-ray crystallography to solve macromolecular structures important to human health and disease.


Three CBS students win Goldwater Scholarships

Kimberly VanderWaal, a CBS honors student majoring in Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior, has been selected to receive a 2006 Goldwater Scholarship. Kim, who works with EEB professor Craig Packer, plans to teach at the university level and study mammalian social behavior.

Two of the other UM recipients have double majors in the Institute of Technology and CBS. They are Akash Kumar (chemical engineering and biochemistry) and Eman S. Haidari (chemistry and genetics, cell biology, and development). Both Kamar and Haidari plan careers in medical research and education.

The scholarships recognize outstanding U.S. sophomores and juniors in science, engineering, and math who plan to pursue graduate studies and research-oriented careers. The scholarships cover the cost of tuition, fees, books, and room and board up to $7,500 per year for one or two years.

New Leadership for the Microbial and Plant Genomics Institute

The Plant and Microbial Genetics Institute and the Center for Microbial and Plant Genomics have merged to form the Microbial and Plant Genomics Institute (MPGI).' After spring break, MPGI will have new leadership, under co-directors Mike Sadowsky and Neil Olszewski. ' Sadowsky is a professor in Soil, Water and Climate and the Biotechnology Institute, and is a member of the Plant Biological Sciences Graduate Program.' Olszewski is a professor in Plant Biology and also a Plant Biological Sciences graduate faculty member.' Both are developing ideas to further the institute's mission through enhancing scientific interchange, research, and training opportunities.'

University of Florida uses transposon discovered at the U of M

Perry Hackett (Genetics, Cell Biology, and Development) discovered the Sleeping Beauty transposon in 1997, and worked with other faculty members of Genetics, Cell Biology, and Development to develop the transposon for use in gene therapy. The University of Florida is now researching the use of the transposon as a carrier to transport a missing protein into DNA of people with hemophilia. To read the full article about the University of Florida's work, go to

Director of China National Center for Biotechnology to speak at the U of M

The University of Minnesota is hosting 'Biotechnology and Renewable Energy in China: Update and'Opportunities for Collaboration' to be held the morning of April 12 at the St. Paul Student Center Theater. Keynote Speaker is Dr. Hongguang Wang, Director General, China'National Center for Biotechnology Development. CBS Dean Bob Elde will also give a presentation. The event is co-sponsored by the University Initiative for Renewable Energy and the Environment (IREE), the University of Minnesota China Center, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, and the University of Minnesota Center for Biorefining.


Ming Li, a graduate student in Genetics, Cell Biology, and Development, is the recipient of the Chinese Government Award for Outstanding Students Abroad. He received $5,000 for his work on microRNAs and for his contributions to the UM Chinese Student Association. The award is given annually to Chinese Ph.D. students who have no financial support from the Chinese Government.

John Lipscomb (Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Biophysics) has helped develop a new award for young scientists. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is adding the Pathway to Independence Award to its Young Investigator Programs. An article about this award is published in Science magazine, and can be read online.

Michael Sadowsky (Biotechnology Institute) is featured in an article called 'Disease Detectives' in the March 20 issue of Time magazine. The segment about Sadowsky, called 'Keeping Beaches Safe,' describes how he uses marker DNAs and a robotic system to identify the sources of E. coli bacteria that may pose a health hazard at public beaches.. 'With cities and states across the country spending billions on new water-quality systems, the impact of Sadowsky's work could be huge,' according to Time. To read the story, go to,10987,1172224,00.html

Michel Sanders (Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Biophysics) is one of eight faculty members to receive a 2006 University of Minnesota award for Outstanding Contributions to Graduate and Professional Education. The awards will be formally presented April 24, 3 p.m., at the McNamara Alumni Center. Sanders will be inducted into the U's Academy of Distinguished Teachers.

Rogene Schnell has taken the new role of Instructional Designer in the College of Biological Sciences. The new position will promote student learning and success by helping faculty and staff to develop, implement, and assess interactive tools, resources, and strategies. Schnell will provide advice and assistance to faculty and staff in developing solutions to teaching challenges. Schnell, who has a Ph.D. in genetics from UC Berkeley, was formerly associate director of the CBS Honors Program.

Brian VanNess (Genetics and Cell Biology and Development) and colleagues designed a microarray chip to examine genetic variations related to disease pathways and drug responses. This was done in partnership with Affymetrix Corporation and the International Myeloma Foundation. The design and application of the chip is being presented to the Affymetrix Core Lab Advisors in San Francisco in March, the Annual Genomics Summit in Beijing in May, and the International Myeloma Roundtable in Italy this June.


Drawn to Nature open house
March 31, 3:00 p.m. ' 4:30 p.m.
McNamara Alumni Center

Drop by for free refreshments, a peek at more than 200 gorgeous original works of art available for purchase, and the chance to meet some of the country's best nature artists. This year's Drawn to Nature featured artist is Jim Brandenburg, who will be honored at a gala event and fund raiser for the Bell Museum later that evening.

For more information go to

Annual Spring Plant Sale
April 5 & 6, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
St. Paul Student Center

The CBS Greenhouse and Plant Biology Phytograds will hold their 5th Annual Spring Plant Sale at the St. Paul Student Center on Wednesday, April 5 and Thursday, April 6.

CBS Imaging Center workshop
May 17-19, 2006
College of Biological Sciences Imaging Center
Registration deadline in May 3, 2006

This three-day tutorial will focus on hands-on experience in new techniques and instrumentation using microwave-assisted procedures for preparing cells and tissues for light and electron microscopy. Topics will include in vivo labeling, principles of fixations for biological materials for histology, light and electron microscopy, immunohistochemistry, and in situ hybridization. Look for information and registration details at: or contact Mark Sanders at 612-624-3454 or