Published on: Mar 3, 2016
Transcripts - Natalizio_TIBBSTimes_2013
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Getting your foot in the biotech/
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industry-facing students and post-
docs (Presenter: Toby Freedman,
PhD): Thursday, June 13 at 2:30pm
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Oral Health Sciences
Dr. Toby Freedman, Executive Recruiter and
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Flyers: TIBBS Summer
Series, Toby Freedman,
CNL with Dr. Hinton
The GMO Debate
The TIBBS Times Committee
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Getting your foot in the
biotech/pharma door -
Inside advice for
June 13, 2:30-4 pm
CAREER OPPORTUNITIES IN THE
LIFE SCIENCES INDUSTRY
Learn about these topics:
• Career paths in academia, industry and government—how they
compare, what it is like to work in industry
• Job search strategies and networking: finding a job in industry
• How to make the transition from academia to industry
• Tips for optimizing a resume for the life sciences industry
• What to look for in a company
• How the current economy is affecting life science jobs
Please join us for a reception following the presentation (4:00 pm).
Register to attend at http://tinyurl.com/orgvofn
Dr. Toby Freedman, Executive Recruiter and author of the book Career
Opportunities in Biotechnology and Drug Development
Koury Oral Health
Biography: Dr. Shantá Hinton received a bachelor’s degree
in biology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel
Hill and earned a PhD in Cellular and Developmental Biology
from Howard University working with Dr. William Eckberg.
Following graduate school,
she completed a postdoc at
Cold Spring Harbor Laborato-
ries, working with Dr. Nicholas
Tonks and studying pseudo-
phosphatases. Dr. Hinton’s
first faculty position was as an
Assistant Professor at Hamp-
ton University. Dr. Hinton has
since changed institutions and
currently teaches and leads a
research laboratory with 10-
12 undergraduate students and one graduate student at
the College of William and Mary. Dr. Hinton’s research fo-
cuses on various functional characteristics of the pseudo-
phosphatase map kinase serine/threonine binding protein
Dr. Hinton’s full biography can be found here: http://www.
Dr. Hinton spoke with a small group of students about her
career in teaching and research at primarily undergradu-
ate institutions. A summary of the conversation is detailed
Did you have any teaching training during your post-doc?
Dr. Hinton did not have any formal training in teaching. She
remarked that Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories was an ex-
tremely competitive research environment that did not fo-
cus on teaching training. However, Dr. Hinton was assured
that her research pedigree and good publications would
make her attractive to teaching institutions and found this
to be true. She remarked that at The College of William
and Mary, candidates with high quality publications and
research background will be hired even with little teach-
ing experience as long as the individual has at least aver-
age teaching skills. The belief is that teaching can be taught
and improved, but research experience and quality is more
Do you recommend a postdoc before pursuing a career in
teaching and research at mostly undergraduate institu-
Yes! Dr. Hinton believes that the postdoc is an extremely
important time to develop both as a scientist and a person.
When starting the postdoc, it is important to discuss your
teaching goals and establish a development plan with your
advisor. Be sure to pick your postdoc topic wisely so that
it will lead to your own independent research funding. Re-
search faculty at a primarily undergraduate institutions are
still required to publish papers and obtain grant funding.
What is your teaching and research balance?
Dr. Hinton found that the balance between teaching and
research depends on the institution. The College of Wil-
liam and Mary prides itself for strength in undergraduate
research, and the faculty have a 50:50 balance between
teaching and research. Currently there are no permanent
teaching-only positions at The College of William and Mary.
Depending on the course she is teaching, some semesters
may permit more research time than others. For example,
Dr. Hinton is currently teaching a seminar class that involves
reading and discussing papers. This course does not involve
a lab and is less time intensive, thus allowing more time for
research. Other institutions may have a less equal balance
between teaching and research. At Hampton University, Dr.
Hinton was expected to teach many more classes and had
very limited research time.
Was it difficult getting started at the College of William
Dr. Hinton felt that setting up the laboratory was the hard-
est part about getting started. She was given the opportu-
By Rebecca Bauer
Continued on p. 8
Career Networking Lunch with Dr. Shantá D. Hinton:
Research and Teaching at a Primarily Undergraduate Institution
Continued on p. 9
If you were to listen to an introductory neuroscience class in
which synaptic transmission was being described, you would
likely hear the terms “neurotransmitter receptor” and “post-
synaptic cell” not more than a few words apart. This reflects
the standard working schematic for electrochemical signaling
in the brain, whereby neurotransmitter released by a presyn-
aptic neuron diffuses across a synapse to bind to its cognate
receptors on a nearby postsynaptic cell. The broad function of
these receptors is quite clear- once neurotransmitter is bound,
electrochemical changes in the postsynaptic cell confer infor-
mation transfer in a unidirectional, feedforward manner.
Much less intuitively understood are the neurotransmit-
ter receptors that exist on the presynaptic neuron, located
at or close by the neurotransmitter release site. What func-
tion could these presynaptic receptors serve? What signaling
mechanisms do they use?
Dr. Benjamin Philpot’s laboratory (UNC Department of Cell Bi-
ology and Physiology) has held a longstanding interest in a par-
ticular class of neurotransmitter receptors, known as NMDARs,
which localize both pre- and postsynaptically. Although the
postsynaptic NMDARs are very well studied, little is known
about their presynaptic counterparts (preNMDARs). In a new
report in The Journal of Neuroscience, Postdoctoral Fellow Dr.
Portia Kunz and colleagues in the Philpot lab probed the down-
stream signaling cascades through which these receptors may
function. Their results point to a highly unexpected mecha-
nism of action, answering several key questions about these
The experimental setup for this research consisted of single
cell electrophysiological recordings in a brain slice preparation.
When neuronal firing was blocked in these cells, small electri-
cal blips, known as miniature synaptic events, or “minis”, could
be recorded. These minis reflected spontaneous neurotrans-
mitter release, and thus provided a method for examining pre-
A change in the frequency of minis indicated a change in the
probability of neurotransmitter release, a mechanism by which
the presynaptic component to the synapse could be strength-
ened or weakened. Thus, when the mini frequency was re-
duced by selective blockade of preNMDARs, it signaled to the
authors that these receptors were acting to tonically promote
transmitter release. This result provided the necessary means
to examine the important signaling players downstream of
preNMDAR activity. Under conditions in which preNMDARs
cannot signal properly (such as blocking a downstream signal-
ing cascade), the change in mini frequency normally seen with
preNMDAR blockade should be reduced or absent.
Following verification that preNMDARs were present and
functional in their preparation, the authors investigated the
signaling cascades downstream of their activation. The major
surprise came here, when calcium-dependent effects were ex-
amined. Calcium is frequently described as a universal signal
transducer in synaptic physiology, necessary for neurotrans-
mitter release and also important for many postsynaptic re-
ceptor effects. Looking for a calcium contribution to preNM-
by Dan Albaugh
Uncovering the Signaling Mechanisms
of a Presynaptic Neurotransmitter Receptor
Pictured here are study co-authors Dr. Benjamin Philpot and Dr.
The GMO debate: Ideology versus ScienceBy Amanda Natalizio
I admit that I am a left-leaning scientist who enjoys poking fun
at the climate change and evolution deniers of the right, but
the recent anti-GMO campaign driven by the left has led me
to more deeply contemplate how ideology can trump science.
Emotionally charged, politicized discourse about such science
topics swarms the internet via Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and
the ever-entertaining comment section of online articles. Un-
fortunately, such forms of communication are often lacking
in scientific merit, and none more so than the hotly debated
Humans have been tinkering with plant and animal genetics
through selective breeding for thousands of years, but the
development of genetic engineering techniques enabled us
to manipulate an organism’s DNA at a level and rate that was
previously impossible. Genetically modified organisms (GMOs)
are a relatively new technology and have been on the market
since 1994. GM plants including soybeans, corn, and canola
are typically engineered to grow faster, be more resilient to
environmental extremes, enrich nutrients, be resistant to pes-
ticides, or exhibit other beneficial characteristics. With the use
of new technology comes fears of unknown consequences, but
what are these fears and are they warranted?
Public attention to GMOs has mainly focused on the risk side
of the risk-benefit equation. The concerns are broad: safety
issues, ecological concerns, and economic issues with regard
to intellectual property law. While I believe we should be ad-
dressing all of these important topics, I want to focus on the
safety of GM food consumption as it relates to nutrition and
health. There is currently a lot of dialogue going on about
GMOs, but unfortunately, ideology clouds the discussion with
misinformation. Many of the concerns raised by both sides of
the story can be backed up with legitimate, fact-based argu-
ments, but science can provide clear answers.
Toxicity, allergenicity, instability of the inserted gene, and neg-
ative nutritional impacts are potential GMO risks to human
health. These risks can be assessed and properly managed, but
consumers question the validity of risk assessments since the
FDA does not require biotech companies to do premarket safe-
ty testing. The American Medical Association, a supporter of
GMO technology, also recommends mandatory safety testing.
Fortunately, every company that has brought a GM food into
the market has voluntarily complied, and hundreds of inde-
pendent studies are in support of the scientiﬁc consensus that
the genetically engineered crops currently on the market are
safe to eat. Even with such evidence, people are still particu-
larly concerned with the lack of evidence on long-term effects.
The reality is that GMOs already make up a large percent of
our diet. A recent poll conducted by the Food Policy Institute at
Rutgers’ Cook College revealed that while plant based GMOs
can be found in nearly 70% of the food currently stocked at
your local grocer, only 52% of Americans knew that GM foods
were sold in grocery stores, and only 26% believed they had
ever eaten them. Trillions of meals made with GM foods have
been consumed after nearly two decades of commercializa-
tion, yet no adverse health effects have been associated with
genetically engineered crops. We’ve essentially had the evi-
dence right on our dinner plates. There is no need to be con-
cerned with the long- or short-term safety of GM foods cur-
rently on the market, though one may rightfully argue that our
regulation system is flawed.
In addition to the lack of mandatory GMO safety assessments,
government employees that have jumped ranks from the crop
industry raise concerns about the objectivity of regulatory au-
thorities such as the FDA. Previous big crop industry employ-
ees can be found in the FDA, the Supreme Court, and congress.
Although this apparent conflict of interest must be addressed,
HOW ARE YOU TODAY?The Discussion Section
-- Thoughts and Opinions from UNC’s Graduate Students --
Photo Credit genetic experiment image by NiDerLander from Fotolia.com
it should be pointed out that there is more evidence in support of GMO safety than climate change, yet many of the left-leaning
climate change supporters advocate against GMOs.
Anti-GMO activists say they are leery of the published research on GMO safety because they believe that most of the studies
were funded by the crop industry. This point can be easily dismissed, since all conflicts of interest and funding sources are listed
in reputable scientific journals. Therefore, one can systematically weed out studies with conflicts of interest, and find that there
remains an abundance of data in support of GM food safety. Where then does this anti-GMO sentiment come from if not sup-
ported by the science?
Anti-GMO activists often make the argument that GM technology tampers too deeply with nature, and thus, we do not know
the consequences. This ideology is not based on scientific fact, and GMO opponents often skew the science in their favor. One
or two studies, taken out of context in relation to an entire body of research do not make a strong case against GM food safety.
Additionally, interpretation, especially by those with ideological or financial bias, is always a precarious thing. Peer reviewed re-
search is highly respected, in part, because it dilutes the bias of one individual. Misrepresentation of science by those that can’t
understand the primary literature is at the root of how ideology can trump science.
Ideological extremism can lead to anti-science no matter which end of the spectrum you occupy. We must all be aware of our
biases and how our ideology may affect our communication and evaluation of scientific evidence, particularly scientific evidence
we would prefer not to be true. Scientific priority is to contribute to the improvement of human and environmental health with-
out compromising public safety. Considering the dynamic nature of the GM food debate, legislation and regulatory agencies rec-
ommendations are likely to continually evolve, and it is vital that we strive to base our assertions on facts rather than ideology.
It seems that GMOs are here to stay, so we must be more effective communicators of science, eliminate the propaganda,
and establish proper regulatory standards to ensure we accurately balance the risk to benefit ratio of GM technology. Dog-
matic rejection of the use of ge-
netic modification in agriculture
is an unwise ideology. In an age
of over-population and global
warming, we need every tool in
the toolbox to ensure adequate
food production. GMOs are likely
to play a vital role in agriculture
and other important resources,
such as drugs and biofuels, so we
must ensure that science always
Hallman, W. K., Hebden, W. C.,
Aquino, H.L., Cuite, C.L. and Lang,
Public Perceptions of Genetically
Modified Foods: A National Study
of American Knowledge and
Opinion. (Publication number
RR-1003-004). New Brunswick,
New Jersey; Food Policy Institute,
Cook College, Rutgers - The State
University of New Jersey.
About the author: Amanda Natal-
izio is a doctoral student in the
Curriculum in Genetics and Mo-
lecular Biology at the University
of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
and works in the laboratory of Dr.
Greg Matera. Her research has
focused on the import pathway
of small nuclear (sn)RNPs in the
Drosophila model system.
nity to design a new laboratory from scratch, which took one year to establish and was a lot of work on top of teaching and
research. Luckily, she had many eager undergraduate students who helped her set up the laboratory. She was fortunate
that another faculty member provided research space for her lab so that she could continue her research while her new
lab space was undergoing renovation.
How do the facilities at a mostly undergraduate institution differ from larger research institutions?
Dr. Hinton believes there is a misconception that all undergraduate institutions have poor facilities. In fact, Dr. Hinton be-
lieves that the College of William and Mary has great facilities, and she is currently working on establishing a proteomics
core facility. She explains that if an institution really wants you, they will likely set you up with the facilities that you need.
However, she warned that human research at undergraduate institutions is difficult as it is highly regulated and requires
How do you approach teaching undergraduate students in the laboratory?
Dr. Hinton currently mentors 10-12 undergraduate students in her lab and 1 graduate student, and she noted that other
labs at The College of William and Mary may have upwards of 20 students. She encourages undergraduate students to
start research as soon as possible and accepts students in her lab as early as the spring semester of freshman year. She also
understands that some students are less certain about research and is willing to accept more advanced students even if
they have no research experience. She finds that some students are more involved and committed to the research, while
others may act as “floaters” who spend less time in the lab.
Dr. Hinton explained that she does not change her research focus or intensity to cater to undergraduate students. She
expects that her students publish and pursue their own summer funding. A system that has worked well for her is dividing
the undergraduate students into teams that focus on specific research areas.
How do undergraduate students differ from graduate students?
Dr. Hinton remarked that The College of William and Mary may differ from other institutions because it attracts a subset of
students that are very driven and understand the importance of research. She has found that the undergraduate students
have a better understanding of a research experience than graduate students who came from other institutions that were
not as focused on research.
Any final advice?
Dr. Hinton’s final advice is to pick your institution wisely. If you wish to pursue a competitive research, be sure that the
institution gives you plenty of research time so that you can continue publishing and applying for grants. If your institution
does not provide you much research time, you may have trouble publishing and obtaining grants. Spend the time to seek
out the environment that offers what you want.
About the author: Rebecca Bauer is a doctoral student in the Curriculum in Toxicology at the University of North Carolina
at Chapel Hill and works in the laboratory of Dr. Ilona Jaspers. Her research is focused on understanding the mechanisms
by which airway diseases and air pollution alter lung immunology.
Career Networking Lunch with Dr. Shantá D. Hinton:
Research and Teaching at a Primarily Undergraduate Institution
Continued from p. 4
TIBBS Trivia Contest: Name That Scientist!
Let’s exercise our brains with some TIBBS trivia! The first UNC graduate stu-
dent with a correct response will win a UNC water bottle! Five runners up
will receive a delicious candy bar! Here’s how to play:
1. Like us on Facebook
2. The trivia question will be posted on our wall a few minutes after distrib-
uting the TIBBS Times.
3. Email your answer to firstname.lastname@example.org. Good luck!
DAR activity made good sense, as the postsynaptic NMDA receptor is permeable to calcium, which is required for many of its
downstream signaling actions.
To test for a role of calcium in the receptor’s activity, neurons were bathed in a calcium-free solution. If calcium is important for
downstream preNMDAR signaling, then preNMDARs should not function in this nominal calcium preparation. Yet, this was not
the observed result - preNMDAR blockade revealed functional receptors, even in the absence of calcium. This finding strongly
suggested an unexpected, calcium-independent mechanism of preNMDAR action.
Although it may be that preNMDARs may normally operate in a calcium-dependent manner, the authors clearly showed some
preNMDARs functions can continue even in the absence of calcium. How is it that these preNMDARs modulate presynaptic
activity in the absence of calcium? In addition to altering ionic permeability, many neurotransmitter receptors promote synap-
tic changes through slower-onset biochemical changes. For example, protein phosphorylation can alter the sensitivity of the
neurotransmitter release machinery, with direct consequences for synaptic function. When protein kinase activity was first
inhibited, preNMDAR blockade no longer affected mini frequency. This was the first time the authors observed such an effect.
Follow-up experiments revealed that Protein Kinase C (PKC) might be the downstream effector of preNMDAR action in this con-
text, likely through calcium-independent actions.
The work of Kunz, et al. represents a major step forward in presynaptic receptor physiology, shedding light on the mechanisms
by which the poorly understood preNMDARs function. The identification of an unexpected, calcium-independent mechanism of
action is especially interesting, given the central role of this ion in the regulation of neurotransmitter release.
Yet the preNMDAR story is not complete, and many questions remain. What are the targets of PKC in the context of preNMDAR
activity, and how do they contribute to the receptor’s presynaptic effects? More broadly, much is still to be learned about the
role of these receptors in brain development, as well as sensory processing and cognition. Thanks to this new work, neuroscien-
tists are now a step closer towards understanding these mysterious receptors.
Kunz PA, Roberts AC, Philpot BD (2013). Presynaptic NMDA receptor mechanisms for enhancing spontaneous neurotransmitter
release. The Journal of Neuroscience 33(18): 7762-9.
Dan Albaugh is a 3rd year graduate student in the Neurobiology Curriculum. His current research focuses on the therapeutic
effects of deep brain stimulation for Parkinson’s Disease.
Continued from p. 5
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Uncovering the Signaling Mechanisms
of a Presynaptic Neurotransmitter Receptor
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FATHER’S DAY EVENTS:
DURHAM JUNETEENTH CELEBRATION Multi-cultural event celebrating the ending of slavery with entertainment, vendors,
food, health fair and children’s activities. FREE admission. CCB Plaza, Corcoran & Parrish Streets. 4-10 p.m. Durham. http://
BULL CITY CHILI CHALLENGE Annual event featuring sampling and judging of a wide selection of tasty chili showcasing lo-
cal restaurants and produce. The area’s first cookoff sanctioned by the Chili Appreciation Society International! Purchase a
tasting kit for $4 and you’ll be able to sample chilis and salsas from someof the area’s best cooks! 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. Durham
Central Park. http://www.heraldsun.com/durhamherald/x1592159165/Central-Park-up-for-the-challenge
JUNE FOOD TRUCK RODEO DJ Piddipat (Pat Murray) will spin music from her prodigious music collection. Food Truck Rodeo
will be at the park. Bring lawn chairs, blankets,picnics, or simply dance the night away. Pavilion at Durham Central Park.
FAMILY FEATURE: DADDY AND ME GAME DAY June 16, 2013 from 2-3pm at the Crowder District Park in Apex. Take the family
for an afternoon of outdoor games and learn about fatherly neighbors in nature. All ages. http://www.carolinaparent.com/
SUPERHEROES AND SUPERDADS! June 16, 2013 from 9am-5pm at the Marbles Kids Museum in Raleigh. Superheroes and
their sidekicks show off their superpowers at Marbles’ Father’s Day celebration. Design a superhero cape and mask. Experi-
ment with the power of flight and feature dad in his own comic book with comic adventures art. Catch Man of Steel 3D in
Chapel Hill/Carrboro events:
Chapel Hill Events this Month:
Chapel Hill Film Events this Month:
Chapel Hill Concerts this Month:
LOCAL EVENTS CALENDARS
Chapel Hill Event Calendar:
Durham Event Calendar:
Raleigh Carrboro Events
Full Schedules available for every sport: http://www.goheels.com/
UNC Campus Recreation Intramural Sports
For a complete list of local runs and races: http://runwellnc.com/
Fleet Feet in Carrboro has weekly free Pub Runs, yoga, and 4, 10, ½ marathon, and marathon training workouts: http://www.fleet-
Some races in Chapel Hill:
Father’s Day 5K Run/Walk. June 16, 2013 at 9am at The Streets at Southpoint in Durham. Maggiano’s Little Italy hosts a 5K run
to benefit Make-A-Wish of Eastern North Carolina. Kids can enjoy a 1-mile fun run and 100-yard dash at 8:30am. Register online.
Chapel Hill Police Department’s Guardians of the Hill 5K, Benefitting N.C. Special Olympics. The inaugural Guardians of the
Hill 5K, sponsored by the Chapel Hill Police Department, will benefit Special Olympics of North Carolina. The event will take
place on Saturday, June 15th, 2013. Race day festivities will include informational booths set up by the CHPD, CHFD, Or-
ange County Emergency Services and other public safety organizations. http://www.sportoften.com/events/eventDetails.
THE ARTS AND SCIENCES
Carolina Performing Arts:
Shows at Cat’s Cradle, Carrboro:
UNC Music Department Performances and Events:
UNC Ackland Art Gallery Calendar:
250 E. Franklin St, Chapel Hill
http://www.moreheadplanetarium.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=page&filename=show_schedule.html. $6 for students and chil-
Museum of Life and Science, Durham
$12.95 adults, $10.95 seniors 65+, $9.95 children (3-12)
DSI Comedy Theatre
Upcoming shows: http://www.dsicomedytheater.com/calendar/
Craft workshops, dance classes, and live music. http://www.artscenterlive.org/
Carolina Theatre’s “Retrofantasma” film series:
A monthly film series of double-features dedicated to bringing classic horror movies back to the big screen in 35mm! Created in
1998, RETROFANTASMA has developed a large dedicated audience of horror movie enthusiasts whose desire to see their favorite
terror flicks is matched only by their willingness to cheer at the screen. Tickets: $7.
Varsity Theatre on Franklin St.
The Varsity Theatre has been a landmark of Chapel Hill and Franklin Street for over 50 years. Since the Sorrell building was built in
1927, it has always housed a movie theater, starting with the original Carolina Theater and then the Village Theater before becom-
ing home to the Varsity.
FOOD AND DRINK
Comprehensive list of food and drink specials, bar events in the area:
Carrboro Farmers’ Market
301 W. Main St., www.carrborofarmersmarket.com
Saturdays 7 a.m.-noon (year-round)
Wednesdays 3:30-6:30pm (starting April 13th)
Pick your own fruits and vegetables:
Check out these directories for local pick-your-own farms:
CH Bar Specials:
Frequently updated nightly bar specials in Chapel Hill
The Stagger- Chapel Hill/Durham/Raleigh area drink specials. www.thestagger.com
Recession Tuesdays at ACME
All entrees $12.95 every Tuesday. Reservations highly recommended.
Tylers Taproom, Carrboro/Durham/Apex:
1/2 price bottles every Monday and Saturday
$2 all drafts and free glass for featured beer every Thursday at 6pm and free appetizers 9pm-11pm.
First Fridays, Downtown Raleigh
Art, Food, Music for free in downtown Raleigh
City Beverage, Durham
Broadstreet Cafe, Durham
Bull City Homebrew:
Fifth Season Gardening Co., Carrboro:
Gardening, Home, and Beer/Wine making supplies
UNC Hospitals Volunteer Information
Requires creating an account. Once registered, search by zip code for nearby volunteer events.
Habitat for Humanity:
Orange County Animal Shelter: