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  LSI faculty at 13
B. Joseph White to join LSI


Former interim president B. Joseph White is one of four new members of the Life Sciences Institute (LSI) faculty, Director Alan Saltiel announced during a May 14 celebration for the building that opened in the fall.
B. Joseph White, shown here talking to Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje, is returning to the University to join the Life Sciences Institute. (Photo by Martin Vloet, U-M Photo Services)

White, also a professor of business administration and former dean of the Business School, will explore an initiative on personalized medicine. His work will focus on the effects of genomic-based science and medicine on business, ethics and economics, Saltiel said.

"It's a thrill for me and all of the LSI faculty to have Joe come and lead this cross-disciplinary effort that extends and expands our mission of collaboration," Saltiel said. "This really enriches what we are doing in the life sciences."

Saltiel said the program White will lead is unique among life sciences institutions.

"The idea came up, and we said if we really want to be a hub for life sciences, we cannot afford to ignore this important area," Saltiel said.

White served as interim president in 2002. He was dean of the Business School 1991-2001. He left the University in 2003 to become managing director of Fred Alger Management Inc., a New York investment firm.

Also joining LSI are medicinal chemist David Sherman, structural biologist Janet Smith and biological chemist Xian-Zhong "Shawn" Xu.

Sherman explores the biochemical pathways of marine microorganisms, with a goal of finding new drug candidates for infectious diseases and cancer. He also directs LSI's new Center for Chemical Genomics (see LSI unveils two centers).

Smith examines the three-dimensional shapes of enzymes that are critical to multi-stage chemical reactions in the cell. Her work also examines structures in infectious pathogens, including the RNA viruses that cause West Nile, yellow fever and dengue.

Xu is a physiologist who studies cellular signaling by calcium ions in the model organism C. elegans, a nematode worm. His work explores nervous system development and sperm fertility in the worms.

LSI is building a faculty of 25-30 cross-disciplinary scientists who will work together collaboratively in an open lab setting to attack difficult problems of human health from a variety of perspectives.

The institute's core concentrations so far are in structural biology, cell biology, genetics and genomics, and a new field called chemical genomics.

Nine faculty already are aboard.

Geneticist Dr. David Ginsburg studies human families with bleeding disorders such as hemophilia, and mice with genetic knockouts, to understand the genes and biomolecules that control the blood-clotting response.

Biological chemist Kun-Liang Guan studies the enzyme chemical reactions that regulate cell division, growth and differentiation, which are crucial to understanding disease states such as cancer, arthritis and diabetes.

Cell biologist Daniel Klionsky uses baker's yeast as a model organism to uncover intriguing clues into a variety of human diseases, including cancer, and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

Systems biologist Anuj Kumar surveys large numbers of genes and proteins in baker's yeast, using computers and robotic sample handling, and has discovered more than 137 new genes.

Pathologist Dr. John Lowe explores the complex sugars that coat the outside of animal cells to better understand cellular signaling and inflammatory diseases, including arthritis, psoriasis and hardening of the arteries.

Biological chemist Rowena Matthews studies riboflavin and folic acid and has contributed to the recommendation that all people should consume more folic acid to prevent heart disease and birth defects.

Structural biologist Gabrielle (Gabby) Rudenko focuses on the structure and function of proteins that regulate the brain's recovery from damage due to drugs or injuries.

Cell biologist and LSI Director Saltiel studies the hormone insulin and its role in regulating cellular sugar levels and facilitating cell-to-cell communication.

Structural biologist Zhaohui Xu examines "molecular chaperones" that help newly made proteins fold into the proper three-dimensional shape. Misshapen proteins are known to be a factor in Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, diabetes, high cholesterol, mad cow disease and bacterial infections, and probably are involved in countless other conditions as well.

Related stories:
LSI unveils two centers>
LSI integrates research>
The luck behind a great discovery>

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