Nebraska Gateway to Nutrigenomics 6th Annual Retreat


Each year, the Nebraska Gateway to Nutrigenomics hosts a free, day-long retreat for faculty, postdocs, students, staff, industry partners, and other interested parties to provide an opportunity to explore relevant topics and to network with fellow researchers in academia and industry.  

The retreat this year was held on June 9 at the Nebraska East Union.  Our program included talks presented by two internationally renowned speakers and the day concluded with our traditional Graduate Student and Postdoctoral Fellow Poster Competition session.    Since this retreat was presented as part of the UNL Agricultural Research Division Big Idea Seminar Series, a video recording of the speakers’ presentations is available at:  Videos can be found by clicking on "Past Seminars" and selecting "Past Seminars 2014." This year’s event was co-sponsored by the Departments of Nutrition and Health Sciences and Computer Science and Engineering, with the primary goals of fostering collaborations between the two units, raising the awareness of the capabilities of computational scientists among biologists, and the awareness of needs of biologists among computational scientists.

THE SPEAKERS . . .                                                                                                                                                                     


Left to Right:  Dr. Stephen Scott, Computer Science and Engineering Co-Organizer; Dr. Melvin Reichman; Dr. Eric Alm; Dr. Janos Zempleni, Nebraska Gateway to Nutrigenomis Director and Co-Organizer

Dr. Eric Alm
Karl Van Tassel (1925) Career Development Associate Professor
Biological Engineering
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Dr. Alm is an Associate Professor of Biological Engineering and Civil & Environmental Engineering at MIT, and an Associate Member of the Broad Institute. His work spans a diverse range of topics from the origins of life to microbial ecology. His most recent work is focused on understanding the structure and dynamics of the human microbiome.  His talk, “Modeling Microbial Ecosystems,” described recent efforts to model the structure and dynamics of microbial ecosystems.  Model systems range from the human and animal microbiome to the environment.

Dr. Melvin Reichman
The Lankenau Institute for Medical Research Chemical Genomics Center           

Dr. Reichman is President and CSO of LCGC.  He received his PhD in Neuroscience from the University of Rochester Medical School, Center for Brain Research.  He has led HTS laboratories at several large and small pharmaceutical companies including:  GD Searle, Berlex Biosciences, Ligand Pharmaceuticals, Oncogene Science and DuPont Pharma.  He founded LCGC together with George Prendergast, PhD, CEO of LCGC and LIMR and Senior Editor of Cancer Research, as an “acaprenurial” entity to bridge a major divide between universities and pharmaceutical companies with the objective of expediting the validation, transfer, and commercialization of biomedical technologies that improve human health.  His talk, “How Open Are We to Open-Innovation in Pharmaceutical R$D?” provided the audience with an overview of the sea-change in pharmaceutical R&D, with emphasis on the cultural, legal, scientific, governmental and economic factors that play in translating basic research in cell signaling into first-in-class medicines.  Emerging collaborative paradigms between universities and pharmas, which could offer investigators extra NIH or new NIH, were described.


The NGN Annual Graduate Student and Postdoctoral Fellow Poster Competition and reception was held following lunch giving young researchers an opportunity to present their work as well as exchange ideas and visit with the speakers.  The competition this year included 21 research posters that represented 10 different laboratories and multiple departments at UNL.  Posters were judged by three NGN faculty investigators.  Judging criteria included the overall presentation of the research, content, oral explanation, and the relevance to nutrigenomics research.  The top three posters were selected and the winners received a framed “Research Award” certificate along with a $150 cash prize.

The Winners Are . . .                                                                                                                                                                               

Laure B. Bindels, Postdoctoral Fellow
UNL Food Science and Technology
Research Faculty Advisor - Dr. Amanda Ramer-Tait
Poster title:  Are metabolic benefits of resistant starches dependent on the gut microbiota?”
Jiang Shu, Graduate Student
UNL Computer Science
Research Faculty Advisor - Dr. Juan Cui
Poster Title:  Dynamic microRNA regulation in human gene network”
Daniel C. Teixeira, Graduate Student
UNL Nutrition and Health Sciences
Research Faculty Advisor – Dr. Janos Zempleni
Poster Title:  “A cell death assay for assessing the mitochondrial targeting of proteins”
Poster winners pictured above left to right are Laure Bindels, Daniel Teixeira, Jiang Shu, and poster session sponsor, Dr. Vicki Schlegel.