Winter 2010 Newsletter

University of Michigan
Center for Organogenesis

Coming with the New Year:  A new Center director, and an exciting slate of future activities.  Our next Symposium is being planned in Spring, 2011.  An outstanding schedule of seminar speakers during Winter term.  Check out the details inside!  Best wishes to all for a happy and productive 2010!

headshot of gary hammerCenter for Organogenesis Welcomes A New Director

Gary D. Hammer, M.D., Ph.D., has been appointed as Director of the Center for Organogenesis.  He is Millie Schembechler Professor of Adrenal Cancer and an Associate Professor of Internal Medicine, and of Molecular & Integrative Physiology.  Gary also serves as the Director of the Endocrine Oncology Destination Program in the Comprehensive Cancer Center. He brings both basic science and clinical research perspectives to his new role, as well as an understanding of the practice of medicine and management of interdepartmental groups. Under Dr. Hammer's leadership, the Center will continue to support outstanding basic research conducted by its faculty and trainees, and will seek to position itself as a leader in translational research.

Directors Corner

Happy New Year to everyone! I’d like to take this opportunity to outline my vision for the future of the CFO. The 5-year Strategic Plan will build upon our current excellent interdisciplinary platform in basic science to embed the CFO in the translational efforts of the University community. The CFO will provide a transformative bridge for basic science synergy to the outstanding clinical enterprises that are focused increasingly along organ-specific programs/initiatives.  The 5-year plan invests in both basic science and translational work through facilitating the organization of teams of faculty (scientists and clinicians) that focus on individual organ-specific problems of organogenesis together with providing funds for new faculty hires synergistic with these efforts.  The goal of these new initiatives are three-fold:  1) to enhance the existing focus on organogenesis in the basic sciences, clinical sciences, biomedical & tissue engineering; 2) to align CFO with the burgeoning translational efforts on campus and 3) to position the CFO for a future NIH or equivalent Center Grant.

 In addition to maintaining the excellent programs embedded within the Center for Organogenesis, a number of new initiatives will be launched later this quarter including 3-year Program Project teams and faculty recruiting partnerships with Departments.  1: Organogenesis Program Projects: We will be soliciting groups of 3-4 faculty for Program Project teams that focus on organ-specific lines.   A portion of these teams will be aligned with the burgeoning organ-specific clinical programs.  A requirement will be to submit an NIH PPG within 2-3 years of funding.   This is a critical first step to applying for a formal Center Grant.  2: Faculty Hires: The Center has resources to partner with Departments to hire faculty whose work resonates with the mission of the Center for Organogenesis.  Faculty hires that fit within an organ-specific translational team or other Program Project oriented groups will be highly desirable.  Announcements will be made soon.

As this is my first official Newsletter as Center Director‚ it is only fitting to use this forum to publically acknowledge and thank Deborah Gumucio, Ph.D. for her unparalleled service to the Center for Organogenesis and the University at large during her 15 year tenure as the founding Director of CFO.   Under Deb’s leadership, the Center developed a national reputation, known for its outstanding and successful training program, the International Symposium on Organogenesis, and for creating an interdisciplinary environment bringing together over 100 researchers throughout the University to study the basic mechanisms by which organs and tissues are formed and maintained.  Deb’s dedication and passion for the Center and her commitment to training young scientists is unparalleled. As Director, Ex-Officio, Deb will continue to be integral to the Center as Director of the Training Grant and associated “Organogenesis of Complex Tissues” course through our resubmission.  A celebration of Deb’s outstanding efforts in the Center will take place during Spring 2010.  We will keep you informed with more details soon.  

Best Wishes for a Productive Year, Gary

CFO Associate Director Search  

The Center for Organogenesis is seeking a Ph.D. faculty member to serve as Associate Director.  Associate and Full Professor level faculty will be considered.  Applicants should have a strong and successful research history in basic sciences and also have a history of service to the Center for Organogenesis (participation in training grant, graduate courses, symposia, seminars, journal clubs, Bio-Artography).  The Associate Director will assist the Director in planning and implementing program activities, including but not limited to, education initiatives, enhancing campus-wide communication and information sharing, and supporting the development of new programs to further the translational research mission of the Center.  The Associate Director will also assist the Director in recruiting new faculty whose work aligns with the mission of the Center.

Interested individuals should submit a letter of interest along with a curriculum vitae to Rebecca Pintar ( by February 8, 2010.

International Symposium on Organogenesis

Mark your calendars – the next International Symposium is being planned on April 15 & 16, 2011.  The major topic of the venue will be “Tissue Engineering”.  Professor Robert Langer (MIT) will give the keynote lecture on Friday evening, April 15, 2011.  Dr. Langer’s major research focus is the study and development of polymers to deliver drugs, particularly genetically engineered proteins and DNA, continuously at controlled rates for prolonged periods of time.  Dr. Langer has received over 170 major awards including the 2006 US National Medal of Science; the Charles Stark Draper Prize, considered the equivalent of the Nobel Prize for engineers and the 2008 Millennium Prize, the world’s largest technology prize.  More on Dr. Langer’s research and awards ( :

All Symposium-related events will take place in BSRB.  More will follow soon.

Organogenesis Training Program

Watch for email and web notifications for upcoming fellowship opportunities.  A competition for NIH-funded pre and postdoc fellowships and non-traditional fellowships will be announced after June 1, 2010. 

We will also begin working on the Organogenesis Training Grant competing renewal – due in September.  The med school’s training grant database (MTrain) is a tremendous resource to us.  If you are a current mentor or current/former trainee, and if you haven’t made updates to your database profile recently, we encourage you to do this soon.  The url to the database is below and if you have any questions, please contact Becky at 936-2499 or

New Organogenesis Trainees

We would like to welcome our newest training grant fellows and non-traditional postdoctoral fellows who recently joined our Training Program.  Congratulations to all and we look forward to seeing you at journal club meetings, monthly trainee meetings, and at seminars in the coming year.

Chris Chou, Training Grant Predoctoral Fellow (Tom Glaser Lab)  Research topic “Genetic Analysis of Two Novel Cases of Anophthalmia”.

Kenneth Krill, Training Grant Predoctoral Fellow (Gary Hammer Lab).  Research topic “Studying the Role of Dicer in Adrenal Development & Maintenance”.

Emily Petty, Training Grant Predoctoral Fellow (Györgyi Csankovszki Lab).  Research topic “Regulation of C. elegans Dosage Compensation by Histone Variant H2AZ/HTZ-1”.

Christopher LaPensee, Ph.D., Training Grant Postdoctoral Fellow (Jessica Schwartz Lab).   Research topic “The Role of Bcl6, a Novel Transcriptional Regulator, in Adipogenesis”.

Yan Li, Ph.D., Non-Traditional Postdoctoral Fellow (Renny Franceschi Lab).  Research topic “Mechanism of Mechanical-load Induced Gene Regulation in Bone”.

SunJung Kim, Ph.D., Non-Traditional Postdoctoral Fellow (Yuan Zhu Lab).  Research topic “The Role of the Tumor Suppressor Gene Adenomatous Polpoysis Coli (APC) in the Development of Cerebral Cortex”.

Deb Gumucio standing in front of quilted bioartographyBio-Artography

It’s that time of year again – if you have really interesting and cool images, please forward them to us for consideration as future Bio-Artography pieces of art.

In other Bio-Art news, Lisa Ellis and her quilting group “Fiber Artists @ Loose Ends” featured a series of quilts that were inspired by Bio-Artography images.  This traveling display was highlighted in the University Hospital’s main lobby last fall.  Lisa and her group are currently working on a new series of quilts and a future display is being planned in BSRB. Pictured are Deb Gumucio and William Brehm.  Bill Brehm, Lisa’s father, is also the creator of UM’s new Brehm Center for Type 1 Diabetes Research and Analysis. 

Bio-Artography Travel Grant Winners and Future Application Deadlines

The following individuals received $500 to attend major scientific meetings. 

Stephie Linn – ARO 33rd Annual Midwinter Meeting, Feb, 2010

Maria Morell – Neuroscience 2009 Annual Meeting, October, 2009

Matt Wyatt – Symposium on Cardiovascular Regenerative Medicine, Oct, 2009

Ann Grosse – Marine Biology Laboratory Embryology Course, Jun/Jul, 2010

Elizabeth LaPensee – Endocrine Society Symposium, Jun, 2010

Therese Roth – Drosophila Research Conference, Apr, 2010

Kelli VanDussen – Digestive Diseases Week, May, 2010

Congratulations to all!  Funding for the grants was sponsored by the Bio-Artography project.  Travel grant applications are available on the Organogenesis website under “Bioartography”.   Future grant deadlines in 2010 are 4/1/10, 8/1/10, and 12/1/10. 

CFO Journal Club Winter Schedule

The Organogenesis Journal Club meetings will resume on January 22, 2010 .  All OJC meetings are held on Friday mornings at 9am in room 2515 BSRB.  Journal articles are available on the Organogenesis website prior to the meeting date. 

Organogenesis Seminar Series Winter Schedule

All seminars are held at 4:00pm in the BSRB seminar rooms unless otherwise noted. See seminar schedule page for most up to date schedule

1/14/10                Haruhiko Koseki, M.D., Ph.D., Group Director, Research Center for Allergy and Immunology, Riken, Yokohama Institute, Japan, “The Role of Polycomb Body to Mediate Hox Repression” (hosted by Tom Kerppola).

2/11/10                Michael German, M.D., Professor in Residence, Clinical Director and Associate Director, Justine K. Schreyer Endowed Chair in Diabetes Research, UCSF Diabetes Center, “Islet Development and Diabetes”, (hosted by Gary Hammer and Peter Arvan).  This lecture is being co-sponsored by the Division of Metabolism, Endocrinology & Diabetes and will be held @ 4pm in 5915 Buhl.

3/18/10                Tony Wynshaw-Boris, M.D., Ph.D., Charles J. Epstein Professor of Human Genetics and Pediatrics, Chief – Division of Medical Genetics, Department of Pediatrics & Institute of Human Genetics, UCSF School of Medicine, “Lissencepahly: Mechanistic Insights from Mouse Models and Potential Therapeutic Strategies” (hosted by Donna Martin).

3/25/10                Susan J. Henning, Ph.D., Professor of Medicine & Cellular & Molecular Physiology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, “The Elusive Intestinal Stem Cell: Progress and Challenges”, (hosted by Linda Samuelson).

4/8/10                   Jeremy Reiter, M.D., Ph.D., Assistant Researcher, UCSF Diabetes Center, “Primary Cilia Tranduce Hedgehog Signals in Vertebrate Development and Cancer”. (hosted by Andrzej Dlugosz).

4/15/10                Jeffrey Molkentin, Ph.D., Professor, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Molecular Cardiovascular Biology, Cincinnati, OH, “Molecular Pathways Controlling Cardiac Hypertrophy”, (hosted by Greg Dressler).

4/22/10                Thomas L. Clemens, Ph.D., Director of Musculoskeletal Research, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, “Role of HIF-1 in Skeletal Development, Repair and Mechanosensing”, (hosted by Renny Franceschi and Laurie McCauley).

4/29/10                Mina J. Bissell, Ph.D., Distinguished Scientist, Life Sciences Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, “Tissue Architecture is the Message: The Role of Extracellular Matrix and Organ Architecture”, (hosted by Gary Hammer and Steven Weiss). 

Center for Organogenesis
2031A BSRB
109 Zina Pitcher Place
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI  48109-2200
Tel:  (734) 936-2499
Fax: (734) 647-9559

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