Time out with T.O. - The ABCs of BMB

by Tom O'Connor, UNMC public relations | May 22, 2014

Image with caption: BMB faculty member Paul Sorgen, Ph.D.; BMB former faculty members Terry Donohue, Ph.D., James Shull, Ph.D., and Jamboor K. Vishwanatha, Ph.D.; keynote speaker Vann Bennett, M.D., Ph.D., of Duke University; and BMB chairman Surinder Batra, Ph.D.

BMB faculty member Paul Sorgen, Ph.D.; BMB former faculty members Terry Donohue, Ph.D., James Shull, Ph.D., and Jamboor K. Vishwanatha, Ph.D.; keynote speaker Vann Bennett, M.D., Ph.D., of Duke University; and BMB chairman Surinder Batra, Ph.D.

As someone who barely squeaked through high school chemistry, I must admit I'm in awe of the scientists working at UNMC.


TIME OUT picture disc.
WITH T.O.
by Tom O'Connor

Monday night I got the chance to attend a dinner culminating the 100th anniversary of the UNMC Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology ... or BMB for short.

I wasn't sure what to expect. Wandering over to the Truhlsen Events Center, I was questioning why I was going to this dinner instead of playing in my Monday golf league.

Golf ... biochemistry ... sounds like a no-brainer, doesn't it?

I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised.

I learned a lot about BMB. I found out that:

  • Almost all cancer research is based on BMB.
  • BMB is the "bedrock" of biological sciences.
  • The research mission at UNMC probably couldn't exist without BMB.

Test your BMB IQ

Think you have what it takes to go up against BMB's best and brightest? Here's a link to the 25-question trivia quiz created by Rick MacDonald, Ph.D., and Bill Chaney, Ph.D., to test department members at the anniversary event. When you're ready to check your work, here's a link to the answer key.

The department chair is Surinder Batra, Ph.D., UNMC's sixth Scientist Laureate in 2012 and one of the most admired, hard-working investigators on our campus.

Dr. Batra's not messing around. Much of his research is focused on pancreatic cancer, among the most deadly cancers, with a one-year survival rate of 20 percent and a five-year survival rate of 6 percent.

Talk to Dr. Batra for a few minutes, and I guarantee you'll leave convinced that he's going to show pancreatic cancer who's the boss.

The program was enlightening. Two BMB faculty members -- Rick MacDonald, Ph.D., and Bill Chaney, Ph.D. -- put together a 25-question trivia test on the department.

Good stuff. Bet you didn't know that at one time there was no women's bathroom on the fourth floor of Bennett Hall.

Would you believe 18 correct answers won the contest? I think I got five right.

Most impressive of all were the four Ph.D. graduates of the program who spoke. They embodied the many options available to BMB grad students.

One joined the UNMC faculty and is doing basic research. Another is teaching at UNO. A third landed a job in industry, and the fourth is doing translational research at the University of Georgia.

As the night unfolded, it was easy to see that these √úbersmart scientists were not much different than the rest of us.

They liked to laugh and have a good time. And their talent, commitment and drive are something that even a science-illiterate guy like myself can appreciate.

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John Benson
May 22, 2014 at 1:20 PM

Another gem from TO! Congratulations to BMB, Rick and Bill, and Dr. Batra! John Benson, MD