Dr. Rovshan Sadygov

July Spotlight
Dr. Rovshan Sadygov

I am an Associate Professor at the UTMB. I joined UTMB in 2008 as an Assistant Professor. At that time, we worked on UTMB’s Clinical Proteomics Center projects, funded by NIH. We developed a model to quantify mass spectral data of labeling with 18O-water and used it to identify differential protein expression between normal and diseased states.

My research interests are broadly in bioinformatics and mass informatics of proteomics and their application to biomedical problems. One project focuses on studies of in vivo protein turnover using heavy water metabolic labeling and LC-MS. Our novel model of isotope profile evolution during gradual label incorporation allows direct extraction of protein turnover rates. The methods are applied to study protein turnover in the liver of mouse model of non-Alcoholic Fatty liver disease. Another project developed a Gaussian Graphical Model of protein networks from large-scale proteomics data. The network generation model is used to describe changes associated with a transition to HBV-related hepatocellular carcinoma. We have a long-standing interest in bioinformatics and statistical models for integrating large-scale and high-throughput data sets from omics experiments.

Dr. Petr Leiman

June SpotlightDr. Petr Leiman

I am an Associate Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. I joined the UTMB in the summer of 2016. Prior to that I was an Assistant Professor at the Swiss Institute of Technology in Lausanne (École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne, EPFL), a French-speaking sister organization of ETH Zurich. My lab studies various aspects of the structure and function of bacterial viruses (bacteriophages) and related systems. An absolute majority of these viruses carry a special organelle - a tail - that plays a critical role in the recognition and attachment to a susceptible bacterial cell. Some of the tails are remarkable in their complexity. We also study phage-encoded RNA polymerases that can recognize unusual or modified DNA bases. My long-term goal is to be able to merge different scientific disciplines, methods, and tools to explain how the systems we study work in quantitative terms. For example, how phage tails are put together, how they store energy, and how they are triggered precisely upon establishing an interaction with the host membrane.

In my free time, of which there is not much, I enjoy playing tennis with my wife and my two boys. I also enjoy doing home improvements and working in the garden. 


May SpotlightDr. Binhan Yu

I am a research scientist in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. I work with Dr. Junji Iwahara in his lab. I got involved in research when I was an undergrad in Peking University.  As a medicinal chemistry student, I used to synthesize many potential biologically active compounds and check their structures using various spectroscopic methods. That was the time when I discovered NMR. Later on, I went to National University of Singapore and did my graduate studies on protein dynamics in Dr. Daiwen Yang’s lab. My biggest achievement there was to have established a new fitting protocol for collective analysis of data from several different NMR experiments. Using this protocol, I was able to discover more hidden states of a protein for the first time. The graduate training has given me solid research skills and benefitted me in the long run. Working at UTMB has been a great learning experience for me. My research focuses on biophysical studies on protein-DNA, ion-protein, and ion-DNA interactions using various advanced nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) methods and computational approaches. Recently, we have developed an NMR method for De novo determination of near-surface electrostatic potentials around proteins. I believe this exciting new approach will have broader impacts in the field. My goal is to do research that I am interested in. Hopefully I can become a professor in the future.

Dr. Muge Martinez

April SpotlightDr. Muge Kuyumcu-Martinez

I am an Associate Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. The theme of my lab is the RNA biology of the heart. It is a perfect fusion of RNA and cardiovascular biology. More specifically, we study gene regulation by RNA binding proteins in the heart. Our goals are to understand why and how dysregulation of RNA binding proteins contributes to a variety of heart diseases with the ultimate goal to prevent or treat heart diseases. I feel privileged to have been working with outstanding collaborators and talented people in my laboratory. For more info regarding me and my lab, you can check out my lab website and my lab twitter account.

Twitter: @KuyumcuLab

Rebecca Whitton

March SpotlightRebecca Whitton

I have been working as a team member for UTMB Galveston for almost 11 years, with one of those years as a contractor. I started off in Records Management as a temporary position, never thinking I would still be here 10 years later. I accepted a full-time position in the Auxiliary department as their Senior Business coordinator. Five years later 2005, I decided to join BMB. I was ready to learn something new, and that is where I got my feet wet in learning about the financial side of research, grants, etc. It has been a learning experience for me. And I was exposed to all these brilliant minds in research, so many highly educated individuals. Working here at UTMB has provided me with many rewards such as stability and confidence that I so needed in my life. With my growth here, I realized that I wanted to continue my career at UTMB and what better way, than to start my master’s degree. This has been one of my goals for many years, but with growing children, marriage, divorce, and life in general, I put that on the back burner, but now that my children our grown, I figured this is a perfect opportunity. In addition, I am hoping that through this journey I can prove to my boys that no matter what age you are, you can still set goals and achieve them no matter the obstacles. I am so excited about the next step I have taken and the journey it will lead me to.

Dr. Eric Wagner

February SpotlightEric Wagner

Dr. Eric Wagner is a Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular biology. His lab focuses on RNA processing and transcription. It is a small group with lots of talented collaborators. The biggest challenge they face is when he gets involved in benchwork. So Eric distracts himself with other duties to ensure the success of his team - there's the secret sauce!! For more information about Dr. Wagner, please go to his department website page.

Dr. Camila Fontes-Garfias

January SpotlightCamila Fontes-Garfias — Pei-Yong Shi Lab

My research focuses on the Zika and COVID viruses. I work with Dr. Pei-Yong Shi in his lab. In high school my favorite subject was science, but I enlisted in the Army.  After my military service I took advantage of my G.I. Bill and enrolled in all the science classes I could, I fell in love with biochemistry and research. My COVID work has made feel like I am serving my country once again. Hopefully, I will be able to be a good scientist, wife, and mother. I am a veteran of the US Army, I spent 9 years in active duty. My advice to new student is, if you have the opportunity to do what you love, do it!

Aaron Bailey

December SpotlightAaron Bailey — William Russell's Lab/ BMB Mass Spectrometry Core Facility

My research focuses on protein structure analysis using liquid separations and high-resolution mass spectrometry. I have wanted to be a research scientist since childhood. After undergraduate work I was introduced to the world of proteomics as a technician in John Yates III lab at The Scripps Research Institute. This was an incredible opportunity to learn about cutting edge science using multidimensional liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry. I became particularly excited about mass spectrometry after seeing firsthand the power of this approach in the analysis of a wide variety of complex protein mixtures. Research has taught me a lot about myself, other people, and how humanity can interact with nature to understand how the world and universe works. In my path to becoming a researcher I was very fortunate to be able to pursue training as a doctoral student in two distinct scientific fields: analytical chemistry and structural biochemistry. In navigating the unknown to the completion of my degree, I learned a great deal about the value of communication as well as that of technical accuracy in successfully conducting a multidisciplinary research program.

My biggest goal is to leave this world in a better place than I found it. In pursuit of this goal, I follow the mantra "contribute where you can", with the aim that my contributions will be meaningful. I enjoy writing original music, playing guitar, and singing. For many years I have had the unique pleasure of performing in a band with my wife and several other family members. I also love to camp/travel to remote desert places in search of solitude and a chance to recharge. When at home, I try to occasionally keep my skills sharp on my favorite Nintendo NES game Dr. Mario.

My ultimate career goal is to become a research-track professor to focus on innovation of next-generation techniques and instrumentation for studying protein structure and function. My dream is to provide mentorship in protein mass spectrometry research to students and postdoctoral fellows and help these junior researchers achieve their own research goals.

Seth Scott

November SpotlightSeth Scott — Kay Choi Lab

My research focuses on how the Hepatitis C Virus balances viral translation and RNA synthesis by the competition between miRNA-122 and Poly-C Binding Protein 2 binding to the 5’ Untranslated Region of the virus. I want to better understand the mechanisms viruses use to react to complex stimuli with their limited number of proteins and genetic material. After graduate school I hope to continue my studies in the structure of virus components in a postdoc, potentially going back to the NIAID. My interest into science was fostered at a young age. My father is a veterinarian pathologist and biomedical science was normal table-talk at dinner while I was growing up. When I was able to intern at the NIAID, Rocky Mountain Labs in Hamilton, MT it cemented my interest in research. UTMB has been a great place for my graduate studies; I enjoy the relaxed island lifestyle that was unique amongst the programs I interviewed with. My advice to new students is to cultivate a hobby and focus on work-life balance to avoid burnout. For me, I unwind with hikes through the Sam Houston National Forest if I can get away from the island and otherwise enjoying a good book or board game.