Three MSI Principal Investigators are co-authors on a paper that appears in the February 7, 2013 edition of the journal Nature (“APOBEC3B is an enzymatic source of mutation in breast cancer,” Nature, DOI:10.1038/nature11881 (2013)). The paper reports the researchers’ discovery of an enzyme that could be a source of mutations in breast-cancer tumors. This research could have broad implications for the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. A press release about the research appears on the Masonic Cancer Center website.


Associate Professor Reuben Harris (Masonic Cancer Center, BMBB) was the lead researcher on the study. He has used MSI resources for several years in his investigations of mammalian APOBEC proteins. Professor Harris, in collaboration with MSI PI Associate Professor Hiroshi Matsuo (BMBB), previously studied how the protein APOBEC3G can alter the HIV genome. In 2008, this work was reported in Nature; MSI highlighted the research in the Fall 2008 MSI Research Bulletin and in an MSI Research Spotlight in January 2010.


Other MSI PIs working on this study include Professor Douglas Yee (Director, Masonic Cancer Center) and Professor Natalia Tretyakova (Masonic Cancer Center). Professor Yee uses MSI resources to support his research into the development of personalized, targeted drugs to fight breast cancer; Professor Tretyakova uses MSI to process data obtained from mass spectrometry analysis of how chemotherapeutic drugs affect DNA.


Additional stories about these findings appeared in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, the Minnesota Daily, and UMNews.



MSI Principal Investigator Connie Lu (Chemistry) has received a prestigious CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation for her research project, Configuring New Bonds Between First-Row Transition Metals. She uses MSI for this research.


The five-year CAREER Award is presented to junior faculty in recognition of outstanding teaching and research and the integration of the two. You can read more about Professor Lu and her research on the Department of Chemistry’s website



MSI Principal Investigator John Ohlfest (Masonic Cancer Center, Departments of Pediatrics and Neurosurgery) passed away on January 21, 2013. Professor Ohlfest’s research concerned the treatment of brain tumors using gene therapy and novel immunotherapies intended to boost a patient’s immune system to attack cancer. He used MSI for bioinformatics tools and sequencing software to support this research.


An obituary of Professor Ohlfest appears on the Masonic Cancer Center website. The staff at MSI extends their deepest condolences to his family, friends, and colleagues.


MSI PI Michael Tsapatsis was profiled by UMNews this week. He and his colleagues are creating zeolite nanosheets, work which has received a great deal of attention and has been published in Science magazine. MSI featured this research last summer in a Research Spotlight.


Distinguished McKnight Professor and MSI Principal Investigator Claudia Schmidt-Dannert (BMBB) was profiled recently in the OVPR Research blog. Professor Schmidt-Dannert engineers microbial cells for the production of chemicals and natural products. Part of the work requires that the researchers obtain and analyze genome sequences of the organisms they are studying. The group is using resources available through the MSI laboratories for sequence analysis and refinement and modeling of protein structures.


The OVPR Business blog also highlights Professor Schmidt-Dannert's work, in this case with the development of a new method of synthesizing biodiesel.