Post-Doctoral Position

A post-doctoral position is available immediate in the Boehning laboratory at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth). This position is funded by the NIH and pay will be consistent with FLSA-exempt NRSA guidelines (https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-16-134.html). Our laboratory studies calcium signaling and cell death in several paradigms including cardiac physiology, immunology, and neurodegenerative diseases. This position will investigate novel pathways regulating signaling through the Fas death receptor, with implications for autoimmune diseases and cancer. Technical approaches include cell biology, protein biochemistry/click chemistry, live cell imaging, and animal models relevant to Fas signaling in health and disease.

In addition to a doctoral degree, the main qualifications for this position are an interest in the field of study and a willingness to learn. Previous experience with animal models is desirable but not a requirement. The Boehning laboratory is a very collaborative and close-knit group. Therefore, another expectation is that you can perform well in a team setting. The Boehning laboratory also strives to foster a diverse and inclusive work environment, and thus we expect our members to welcome and accept people from a variety of backgrounds.

Houston is one of the most diverse large cities in the United States. Houstonites enjoy a low cost of living and a warm subtropical climate. UTHealth is part of the Texas Medical Center, which is the largest medical center in the world with over 100,000 employees. The scientific environment is exceptional. Please send a cover letter detailing your future research interests and goals, a CV, and a list of 3 references electronically to Darren.F.Boehning (at) uth.tmc.edu. Review of applicants will begin immediately.

Federal Science Funding: A Call To Action

The United States House Science Subcommittee on Energy is responsible for EPA research and development programs. As many of you know, it appears that all EPA grants and contracts have been suspended (at least temporarily). This is a very scary development which tells me no federally funded science is safe. The chair of this committee is Randy Weber, who also happens to be my representative in the 14th district of Texas. I just got off the phone with his office. First, the staffer reiterated the commitment of Mr. Weber to basic science research (not sure why she needed to point this out). Then, she used a lot of words to basically say that states should be responsible for environmental regulation, not the federal government. I noted that my district has several of the largest oil refineries in the nation, and they have repeatedly and willingly polluted our water. In fact, my county has three Superfund sites. I noted that the Texas legislature has a long history of catering to the oil and gas industry, and I don’t trust the state to keep the environment in my county safe. She deflected this by saying that Mr. Weber works with the Texas state equivalent of the EPA known as TCEQ to make sure the oil and gas industry does not pollute our district. I don’t believe it.

Now to the really scary part. In a nutshell, all EPA grants and contracts, both future and present, will be subject to federal oversight before funds are distributed. In other words, government officials will be determining if your research is worthy of funding. Imagine the ramifications for people who study HIV/AIDS, drug abuse, and literally hundreds of other examples of research which may in some way be politicized. This is insanity. Fellow scientists, we have to do something. At the VERY least, call your representatives. This is literally an attack on science. However, I feel we need to do a lot more than just talking to a congressional staffer, and I welcome suggestions.

Why You Can’t Use A Google Scholar Link In Your Biosketch

I submitted a request for clarification to grantsinfo@nih.gov for the following policy:

Indicate that a URL for a publication list is optional and, if provided, must be to a government website (.gov) like My Bibliography.

This was in response to recently updated instructions for preparing the biosketch and some discussion on Twitter initiated by @crytogenomicon.

https://twitter.com/cryptogenomicon/status/730412499120566272?lang=en

After about a week, I got the following reply:

With broader rules for including links we could not protect the anonymity of our reviewers.

It took me a few minutes to process this result, and then it hit me. I could link, for example, to the publication list on my personal lab web page. I use Google Analytics, and thus I can see where traffic to my site originates from. It would be very simple to figure out who reviewed my grant in this scenario. Turns out @thatdnaguy was right!

Gluten Free Pizza With Cashew Cheese

I am putting this recipe here for my daughter who has Celiac and EOE, but I think it might be of interest to others as well. As prepared below, this recipe is also vegan. We were introduced to the dairy-like nature of cashew cheese at the outstanding Christopher’s Kitchen in Palm Beach Gardens, FL. I found a recipe for cashew cheese at One Green Planet, and modified it to generate the recipe below.

  1. Put the following in a high speed blender:
    • 1/4 cup raw cashews (whole or pieces fine)
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 2 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon tapioca starch
    • 1 cup hot water (tap is fine)

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2. Blend on the highest speed for 2 minutes. The mixture should be free of any chunks and resemble chalky milk.

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3. Transfer to a saucepan and heat on the stove-top medium high. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon. In a few minutes, it will start to congeal and resemble curdled milk.

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4. Turn heat to medium, and continue to stir vigorously until it is uniformly thickened. Remove from heat and continue to stir for another minute. This can now be used immediately or allowed to cool.

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5. For the pizza crust, we use frozen gluten-free crusts from our local Kroger. We are fond of the Kinnikinnick brand. They also make great gluten free Oreos!

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6. Add pizza sauce to the frozen crust. We use a store-bought brand which is gluten free (as are most brands of pizza sauce).

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7. Glob on the congealed mass of cashew cheese. It is not easy to work with the cashew cheese at this stage because it is thick and extraordinarily viscous. I put on a big blob of cheese on the pizza and work it into shape using two forks. Add whatever spices you wish such as oregano to top the pizza. We really like sprinkling herbes de Provence on top.

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8. Put the pizza in an oven pre-heated to 450F directly on the rack. Cook for 9 minutes and check if the cheese is browned. Cook longer as needed with careful attention so that it does not burn. Remove from oven and let cool slightly before cutting. The cashew cheese after cooking is remarkably similar in texture and taste to real cheese. We find it to be almost indistinguishable from real cheese pizza. Enjoy!

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I Also Owe My Career To Muslim Immigrant Scientists

David Kroll wrote a great piece for Forbes today where he detailed how Muslim scientists played prominently in all stages of his career.

I have had a very similar experience, especially as a faculty member. They were essential contributors to my grants, my papers, and my career advancement. They were kind enough to invite me and the other lab members to Iftar at the local Islamic Center. They invited me into their homes and hearts. I consider them part of my family. It disgusts me to know that they are afraid and no longer feel welcome in this country. As Dr. Kroll suggested, scientists should loudly denounce the downright disgusting and xenophobic/islamophobic rhetoric being discussed in certain political circles, especially by the Republican front-runner Donald Trump. I join him in noting that Muslims are a essential component of the biomedical research community in the United States. In addition to this pragmatic point, I would also note that this is an issue of basic human decency. Discriminating against an entire religion is about as awful and un-American as you can get.

Below is a partial listing of the exceptional science accomplished by Muslim immigrant scientists in my laboratory in just the past five years. I am deeply grateful for all of their contributions, both professional and personal.

 
Borahay MA, Al-Hendy A, Kilic GS, Boehning D. Signaling Pathways in Leiomyoma: Understanding Pathobiology and Implications for Therapy. Mol Med. 2015 Apr 13;21:242-56. doi: 10.2119/molmed.2014.00053. PubMed PMID: 25879625; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4503645.

 
Borahay MA, Vincent K, Motamedi M, Sbrana E, Kilic GS, Al-Hendy A, Boehning D. Novel effects of simvastatin on uterine fibroid tumors: in vitro and patient-derived xenograft mouse model study. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2015 Aug;213(2):196.e1-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2015.03.055. Epub 2015 Mar 31. PubMed PMID: 25840272; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4519389.

 
Borahay MA, Kilic GS, Yallampalli C, Snyder RR, Hankins GD, Al-Hendy A,
Boehning D. Simvastatin potently induces calcium-dependent apoptosis of human leiomyoma cells. J Biol Chem. 2014 Dec 19;289(51):35075-86. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M114.583575. Epub 2014 Oct 30. PubMed PMID: 25359773; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4271198.

 
Safren N, El Ayadi A, Chang L, Terrillion CE, Gould TD, Boehning DF, Monteiro MJ. Ubiquilin-1 overexpression increases the lifespan and delays accumulation of Huntingtin aggregates in the R6/2 mouse model of Huntington’s disease. PLoS One. 2014 Jan 27;9(1):e87513. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0087513. eCollection 2014.PubMed PMID: 24475300; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3903676.

 
El Ayadi A, Stieren ES, Barral JM, Boehning D. Ubiquilin-1 and protein qualitycontrol in Alzheimer disease. Prion. 2013 Mar-Apr;7(2):164-9. doi:
10.4161/pri.23711. Epub 2013 Jan 29. PubMed PMID: 23360761; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3609125.

 
Wang X, Xiong LW, El Ayadi A, Boehning D, Putkey JA. The calmodulin regulator protein, PEP-19, sensitizes ATP-induced Ca2+ release. J Biol Chem. 2013 Jan 18;288(3):2040-8. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M112.411314. Epub 2012 Nov 30. PubMed PMID: 23204517; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3548510.

 

 

El Ayadi A, Stieren ES, Barral JM, Oberhauser AF, Boehning D. Purification and aggregation of the amyloid precursor protein intracellular domain. J Vis Exp. 2012 Aug 28;(66):e4204. doi: 10.3791/4204. PubMed PMID: 22952038; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3478677.

 
El Ayadi A, Stieren ES, Barral JM, Boehning D. Ubiquilin-1 regulates amyloid precursor protein maturation and degradation by stimulating K63-linked polyubiquitination of lysine 688. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012 Aug 14;109(33):13416-21. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1206786109. Epub 2012 Jul 30. PubMed PMID: 22847417; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3421158.

 
Stieren ES, El Ayadi A, Xiao Y, Siller E, Landsverk ML, Oberhauser AF, Barral JM, Boehning D. Ubiquilin-1 is a molecular chaperone for the amyloid precursor protein. J Biol Chem. 2011 Oct 14;286(41):35689-98. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M111.243147. Epub 2011 Aug 18. PubMed PMID: 21852239; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3195644.

 
Stieren E, Werchan WP, El Ayadi A, Li F, Boehning D. FAD mutations in amyloid precursor protein do not directly perturb intracellular calcium homeostasis. PLoS One. 2010 Aug 5;5(8):e11992. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0011992. PubMed PMID: 20700539; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2916833.

Converting .mov to .gif using Photoshop

Note: this is primarily for myself.

  1. File -> Import -> Video Frames To Layers (select .mov file)
  2. Trim length as desired; click OK.
  3. “Crop” function will crop every layer automatically.
  4. If you want to make adjustments, select all layers and then Layer -> New Adjustment Layer -> (Pick Adjustment Desired)
  5. When satisfied, File -> Save For Web -> Select GIF upper right pull down menu

Sources:

http://forums.cgsociety.org/archive/index.php?t-12354.html

My Life As A PI

First, some background about me as I think it is relevant. I’ve been a PI for 10 years, and I am at my second university since becoming faculty (the move was post-tenure). For the most part I have been NIH funded since my post-doc. I still consider myself relatively young at 43, and I have 4 kids spanning from high school to preschool. My wife is a full time 6th and 7th grade teacher.  In addition to lab stuff, I also direct a graduate program and sit on a multitude of committees.

Now, I have a small confession. I do not work 80 hour weeks in the lab. My time actually at the university is more like 45 hours. Like most of us I would guess, I get lots of bits and pieces done while I am at home as well. This includes emails, reading papers, and occasionally I will VPN into my office computer and do real work such as writing grants. However, I spend most of my time on nights and weekends with my family. This is a priority for me. When I work on the weekends, I bring my kids to the office. They love it, and we usually head to the zoo (walking distance) or a nearby shopping district or other attraction in the city. My job allows me the flexibility to stay home with sick kids, and I often come home a little early to cook dinner. I go to dance/gymnastics/recitals usually without fail. Of course near grant deadlines and other times of year I may work an 80 hour week, but that is rare. Similarly, I allow my staff to determine their own schedule. I also make it a point to not email them after hours.

So what is the point of this post? Science isn’t everything. Myself and many of my colleagues place family first. You can be successful running a lab and enjoy everything else life has to offer.

Postscript:

My wife is often spending nights and entire weekends grading papers. It amazes me that teachers are so underpaid considering how essential their job is to the future of this nation.