Andrew Holland talks ASCB

Andrew Holland talks ASCB

BCMB faculty member Andrew Holland is a member of the American Society for Cell Biology. Here’s why he thinks you should be a member, too!

Professional societies like ASCB are a valuable resource for graduate students, postdocs, and faculty.

“The science of life, the life of science.” That’s the motto of The American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB), a professional organization founded in 1960 and headquartered in Bethesda, MD. There are many options for those who want to join a professional society, and ASCB membership is a great investment if your research is related to cell biology. Besides famously hosting one of the largest annual meetings in the United States, ASCB has many programs in place for science advocacy, education, and professional development. Many BCMB faculty are members of ASCB, including MBG professor Andrew Holland. “I believe in the work they’re doing,” says Holland, speaking admirably of ASCB’s policy and professional development efforts. “For ASCB it is all about their members and they will do anything they can to build a strong and successful community of cell biologists. In these times of diminishing funding it is more important than ever to have a strong voice advocating for basic research. ASCB is that voice and they work tirelessly on our behalf. I believe we all need to show our support.”

BCMB faculty member Andrew Holland

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Telling Stories about Science: My experiences as a science writer


Could you be a freelance science writer? Read on to find out.

Many BCMB students have taken the elective course, taught by Jeremy Nathans, called Great Experiments in Biology. Year after year, students enjoy the class and recommend it to their peers. Why do we like it so well? Other than an appreciation and understanding for the great scientists who came before us, I think that we enjoy the class because Dr. Nathans focuses on the personal stories of the scientists: how they got interested in science, why they studied what they studied, how they reacted and felt and progressed along their path to these fantastic discoveries. In my experience, I always remember the science better when I understand the motivation behind the discovery; I loved discussing science with visiting lecturers and BCMB faculty not just for the academic part of the conversation, but also finding out the background and circuitous path they followed to get where they are today.

If you are finding yourself nodding and agreeing and connecting with what I just described, you might be interested in a career in science writing and communication. Here, I’ve “interviewed” myself; I hope this can stimulate some questions and discussion about our roles as scientists in the world of media and communication.

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A new way to explore Grad Schools: Virtual Grad School Fair

I remember how stressful it was when I wanted to apply to grad school back in 2008.  Many schools had convoluted web pages with the info for their PhD programs, and it was tricky to figure out who I could contact with questions, or even to find enough info to generate questions to ask!  There were so many programs, so many options.  It’s not common for grad schools to come and visit undergraduate campuses, like a career fair, so you rarely get the opportunity to speak with someone face-to-face; the best you can hope for is an email or a phone call, if you do eventually find someone to contact.

This year, BCMB is trying to make our admissions process more accessible by participating in the Virtual Grad Student Fair for the Biomedical Sciences.  Prospective students can sign up for the fair, and will have a forum to get their questions answered by our program staff.  Sign up today to participate!


-Diedre Ribbens

BCMB News is Updating our Publishing Format!

We at BCMB News appreciate that you, our readers, like the science- and BCMB-related content we generate for our website.


Many of you are graduate students or faculty in the program, so you can understand how much work publishing a monthly issue requires outside of our everyday duties in the lab.  At a recent meeting, the writers and editors for BCMB News voted to change our publishing format to allow for more flexibility.  This means that instead of publishing one issue per month, we’ll be peppering the site with articles throughout the year, similar to the way that a blog operates.

What does this mean for you?  Unfortunately, features like “Question of the Month” will be discontinued, but on the positive side, we hope to deliver content in a more timely fashion and write bigger, better stories.  Additionally, we hope that this flexible publishing platform encourages more of you to try your hand at writing for BCMB News!

As always, if you’re interested in writing for BCMB News, drop us a line at  Becoming a contributor is easy:  we set up an account for you, right here on the website, and you can write a draft of your story that will then be seen by an editor.  The editor will approve your story and click “publish” to post it to the site – it’s really that simple!

Thanks so much for reading, and feel free to post any questions or comments about the new format in the “Comments” section below.

Recent Job Postings

Associate Director, in vivo Pharmacology – Seattle Genetics

Job Description

Seattle Genetics is seeking a highly motivated and creative scientist to head the in vivo pharmacology group. The successful candidate will play an essential role in expanding our product pipeline, technology advancement, and understanding the mechanisms and immunological functions of our drugs. He/she will be a key player to maintain Seattle Genetics’ leadership in the field of antibody drug conjugates (ADC).

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Gerald Hart BCMB Friday Seminar

On Friday, February 15th, The BCMB Friday Seminar series hosted another faculty member of BCMB.  This month, Gerald Hart of the Department of Biological Chemistry gave a talk entitled, “Linking nutrients to signaling and transcription:  Roles of O-GlcNAcylation in diabetes, neurodegeneration, and cancer.”

Hart was introduced by a student in the Biological Chemistry department, Teresa Romeo-Luperchio.  Luperchio gave a great run-down of Hart’s history as a scientist, including the fact that he used to have a lab in his bedroom when he was a child, complete with a Bunsen burner!  Hart also founded the journal “Glycobiology.”

BCMB Student Teresa Romeo-Luperchio, from the Department of Biological Chemistry, introduces Gerald Hart.

BCMB Student Teresa Romeo-Luperchio, from the Department of Biological Chemistry, introduces Gerald Hart.

Hart began his talk by thanking BCMB program director Carolyn Machamer for organizing the seminar series, and for the opportunity to find out what his colleagues were doing.

Hart stated that the discovery of O-linked N-acetylglucosamine, better known as O-GlcNAc, occurred almost thirty years ago.  Scientists thought that glycans were added in the lumen of the ER and Golgi, and were mostly on protein domains destined for outside of the cell.  However, with the discovery of O-GlcNAc, they realized that glycosylation was occurring in the cytoplasm and nucleus as well.  There have been approximately 1700 publications about O-GlcNAc and related processes since the 1980s.

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March Lab Spotlight: Taverna Lab

The Taverna lab, located in the Center for Epigenetics.

The Taverna lab, located in the Center for Epigenetics.  From left to right – Top Row: Ana Raman, Annie Cieniewcz, Kimberly Cox, Sean Taverna.  Middle Row:  Blair Dancy, Kousik Sundararajan.  Bottom Row:  Romeo Papazyan, Tonya Gilbert

Lab Stats

PI Name: Sean Taverna

Number of Years in BCMB: 5

Model System(s): Yeast (S. cerevisiae), rats, C. elegans, mouse, Tetrahymena 

Research Area: Understanding how the epigenome is regulated at a molecular level with a particular focus on histones and histone modifications.

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