Bede Portz Recipient Of The Simpson Award
2016 April 19 - Biochemistry, Microbiology and Molecular Biology graduate student, Bede Portz, is the recipient of the Robert T. Simpson Graduate Student Award for Innovative (Risky) Science. Portz works in the research laboratory of David Gilmour, professor of molecular and cell biology.
The Simpson family created the Risky Science award in 2005, in memory of Dr. Robert Simpson, former professor of biochemistry and molecular biology. Dr. Simpson embraced high-risk, high-impact research. Therefore, the risky science award was established to recognize an individual graduate student, working under the direction of a biochemistry and molecular biology faculty member, which has made important innovative contributions in forwarding their research in their specific area of study.
His research has focused on the structure of the C-terminal domain (CTD) of RNA Polymerase II. This disordered domain is central to the regulation of many steps of gene expression, but understanding of it’s structure was very limited, and as a result, their understanding of how the CTD may interact with its many binding partners is also incomplete. Gilmour lab doesn’t do the type of structural studies that Portz has undertaken, so there was risk in pursuing this work. Fortunately, Portz collaborated with Eric Gibbs and Scott Showalter, of the chemistry department, and their perspectives and insights helped immensely. Portz is very grateful for his adviser, Dave Gilmour, for allowing him to pursue a project outside the traditional scope of the lab. Portz states, "As a result we have gained new insights into the structure of the CTD, and these results can guide future studies in our ongoing efforts with the Showalter lab to better understand how the CTD orchestrates multiple processes involved in gene expression."