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The Nebraska Center for Integrated Biomolecular Communication is pleased to announce the award of three new Early Stage Investigator (ESI) Projects. The work of these 3 investigators are interrelated to each other and additional members of CIBC by their fundamental focus on different aspects of biomolecular communication within and between cells and tissues. The breadth of science encompassed by the CIBC project leaders, signifies the interdisciplinary nature of the Center’s research goals.

Limei Zhang

Limei Zhang is an Assistant Professor of Biochemistry at UNL. Her research addresses critical knowledge gaps in the mechanisms of survival and pathogenesis of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the causative agent of tuberculosis which poses great threat to public health. Upon completion of the research, we expect to have a better understanding of how this pathogenic organism responds to nitric oxide stress, which is critical for its survival in the host. The outcomes are expected to offer new research directions for designing effective anti-tuberculosis therapeutics.

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Armen Petrosyan

Armen Petrosyan is an Assistant Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at UNMC. His research project is entitled “The role for N-glycan carrying Sialyl-Lewis(x) in progression of prostate cancer”. Multiple studies have shown that serine protease Matriptase plays a substantial role in prostate cancer growth, invasion, and metastasis, but the mechanism of its activation at the cell surface is unknown. Matriptase undergoes glycan modification by the Golgi enzyme MGAT5, whose expression is also enhanced in advanced prostate cancer. Dr. Petrosyan hypothesizes that disorganization of the Golgi apparatus causes domination of MGAT5-mediated glycosylation resulting in the relocation of abnormally glycosylated Matriptase to the cell surface via its direct specific interaction with binding lectin, Galectin-3. This research will be conducted in collaboration with Dr. Eric Dodds a previous CIBC ESI and current member of the CIBC Systems Biology Core specializing in novel technologies to determine the structure of glycosylated proteins.

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Ruiguo Yang

Ruiguo Yang, Assistant Professor of Mechanical and Materials Engineering. His research project studies the mechanotransduction pathways leading to an autoimmune skin disease, Pemphigus vulgaris. Adhesive junctions between cells within a tissue provide mechanical integrity and control cell fate, yet few strategies exist to provide a mechanistic understanding of their regulatory role in autoantibody induced cell dissociation. This project will investigate mechanical and chemical contributions of desmosome cell-cell junction in the cell detachment process. The new knowledge will pave the way for developing treatments for disorders resulting from interference with mechano-sensitive cell-cell adhesions.

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The Nebraska Center for Integrative Biomolecular Communication (CIBC)

Promoting Collaborative Interdisciplinary Biomedical Research

Diseases result when the internal stability and normal communications between tissues and cellular pathways are disrupted by genetic defects, environmental disturbances, or pathogens. CIBC will serve as a natural mixing chamber to integrate the research activities of chemists, biochemists, engineers, and bioinformaticists to address critical knowledge gaps in our understanding of how cells communicate and integrate metabolic and regulatory pathways relevant to disease development and progression. CIBC investigators will bring together unique expertise in the understanding of complex diseases and in the development of novel methodologies and technologies to probe communication pathways within and between cells and tissues.

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Welcome from Director James Takacs

Welcome to the Nebraska Center for Integrated Biomolecular Communication (CIBC) website. I hope you will find the information about our collaborative interdisciplinary research to enhance the biomedical research infrastructure in the molecular life sciences stimulating and informative. The proper regulation of biomolecular communication pathways is critical to maintaining healthy function, yet there are many gaps in the fundamental understanding of those pathways. Unraveling those pathways and filling in critical knowledge gaps requires the combined expertise of collaborative, interdisciplinary research teams. Fundamentally, that is the Center’s goal, to enable fundamental problems in biomolecular communication to be researched in more impactful ways.

The CIBC Administrative Core will marshal the research resources provided by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) program and UNL to support progress toward NCIBC’s overall goals and specific aims. Specifically, the Administrative Core will help meet the Center’s goals by providing the level of mentoring and career development needed to propel early stage investigators toward research independence and international recognition, by governing the operations of two research core facilities (i.e., Systems Biology Core and Data Management and Analysis Core) needed to advance CIBC investigators’ research agenda, and by supporting the growth of the Center through its suite of enrichment activities.

We are excited about the Center and invite you to explore our website to learn more about the ongoing research and the opportunities to join in the Center’s efforts.

Research Spotlight: The TelePathy Project

Dr. Massimiliano Pierobon and Dr. Nicole Buan have recently received an NSF award for their collaborative project, entitled “TelePathy: Telecommunication Systems Modeling and Engineering of Cell Communication Pathways.” Dr. Pierobon and Dr. Buan are assistant professors in the departments of Computer Science and Engineering and Biochemistry, respectively.

Learn more about the project