Endoplasmic Biotech-You-Learn

Science is full of jargon and wonderful multi-syllabic words that roll off the tongue. One of my favorite biology phrases from junior high school days is “endoplasmic reticulum”.  With this blog, we’ll be going “endoplasmic” or “inside the cell” to find out more about the latest biotech-related research and global challenges. Our Designated Emphasis in Biotechnology PhD student bloggers will be writing for a general audience, aiming to educate and myth-bust about popular science topics, as well as highlighting campus research projects. Bloggers will also be sharing their experiences of graduate school, biotech-related internships and professional development advice for a wide range of professional career paths. DEB students are drawn from 29 STEM disciplines across the life sciences and engineering, so this blog will be a smorgasbord of biotech fun. Enjoy!  

- Dr. Denneal Jamison-McClung

RNA Editing Affects Repair of DNA Damage by the NEIL Enzyme

DNA damage is a phenomenon that can be detrimental to genomic integrity. Thankfully, our bodies have adapted many pathways to repair such DNA damage to prevent mutagenesis and cell death. There are many different topics related to DNA damage and repair, and I have recently focused on two other interesting topics related to this. In my first blog, I touched on the epigenetic role of DNA damage.

The Many Dangers of Tobacco Use

“Don’t smoke.”

In this day and age, we have all heard this refrain over and over from a very young age. From the high taxes on cigarettes and other tobacco products to the no-smoking public campaigns, it’s been drummed into heads (and our wallets) that smoking is bad for us.  But why is it so bad? And why do so many people smoke anyway knowing that it’s bad for them?


The brain is a complex organ that controls every physical movement we have or ever will make and houses our sense of self.  As merely on average 3-pound organ, the brain is somehow able to govern all our sensory input coming from sight, smell, touch, taste, and hearing and assemble messages in a way that directs our thoughts, speech, movement, and internal organ functions.

Microfluidics: Doing More with Less - Part 2

This is Part 2 of a 3-part series on biological applications of microfluidic devices. Part 1 covered the history, physics, and popular fabrication methods of microfluidic devices. This part will cover the application of microfluidic devices in low resource and point-of-care applications, while Part 3 will discuss the role of microfluidic devices in cutting edge technologies.

Role of Extracellular Vesicles as the Body’s Messengers

Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are small membranous nanoparticles secreted by all types of cells and can be found in numerous bodily fluids, including blood, urine, cerebrospinal fluid, and more. For years, scientists believed that it functioned more as a waste disposal system for cells, carrying unwanted molecules and metabolites out of the cell and into circulation to be cleared out. But it turns out that one cell’s trash could be another cell’s treasure.

The Epigenetic Role of DNA Damage in G-Quadruplex Structures

Repairing DNA damage is an essential capability for humans and other multicellular organisms. Inability to repair DNA damage can lead to cells dividing randomly and the development of both benign and malignant tumors. The David Lab at UC Davis is working on understanding the molecular mechanisms of DNA repair as a first step in developing targeted therapies to prevent common cancers.

Microfluidics: Doing More with Less - Part 1

This blog is the first in a three-part series on biological applications of microfluidic devices. This Part 1 blog will cover the history, physics, and popular fabrication methods of microfluidic devices. Part 2 will cover the application of microfluidic devices in low resource and point-of-care applications, while Part 3 will discuss the role of microfluidic devices in cutting edge technologies.

How to Search and Organize Research Articles

As PhD students, reading is part of our life. There are so many new papers coming out every day, so many research blogs to follow, so many books to read. But, how would you find them and organize them? Certainly, I’ve seen people downloading everything to their desktop and piling up 100 pdfs with no labeling or grouping. To be honest, that was me at one point. When you start to write a report or research paper, it can become a nightmare to organize the reference list.

Protein Structure Prediction

If you are a PS4 player, you might have heard of a game called, “Detroit: Become Human”. The story is set in the city of Detroit during the year 2036; the city has been revitalized by the invention and introduction of Androids (Robot) into everyday life. These Androids are very intelligent and can behave just like humans. The story is about the humanity of the robots and the conflict between humans and artificial intelligence. There are now many novels and games discussing artificial intelligence and philosophies related to how it will change society.

Engineering Fungi as Enzymatic Powerhouses for a Plant-Based Economy

The public perception of fungi is typically focused on the beautiful, and occasionally delicious, fruiting bodies of a relatively limited range of fungal species. But the human applications of fungi and the compounds they produce go well beyond our dinner plate or photo album. Fungi, many of which gain energy from decaying plant matter, are known to produce a wide suite of enzymes specializing in the degradation of biomass components. Of particular interest is their capacity to break down lignocellulose, a complex and abundant constituent of plant tissue that forms secondary cell walls.

Computational Chemistry Studies of Terpene Synthase

On a typical morning, I usually grab an orange and get a cinnamon bagel from coffee shop for breakfast. Around 11 am, I have an apple as a snack. I normally get the steamed broccoli in the dining hall for lunch. In the evening on my way back home, sometimes I can smell cannabis on the highway — everything I just mentioned contains terpene. Citrus fruits usually have a large amount of limonene. Cinnamon, broccoli, and some other spices possess β-caryophyllene, which has anti-diabetic potential.