Button to scroll to the top of the page.

News

From the College of Natural Sciences
Lauren Ehrlich Named among The Alcalde’s Texas 10

Lauren Ehrlich Named among The Alcalde’s Texas 10

Lauren Ehrlich, associate professor of molecular biosciences, has been named one of the Texas 10 by The Alcalde, the University of Texas at Austin alumni magazine. Alumni nominate professors who inspired them and went above and beyond for their students.

Plastic-eating Enzyme Could Eliminate Billions of Tons of Landfill Waste

Plastic-eating Enzyme Could Eliminate Billions of Tons of Landfill Waste

An enzyme variant created by engineers and scientists at The University of Texas at Austin can break down environment-throttling plastics that typically take centuries to degrade in just a matter of hours to days.

Live Cell Imaging Reveals New Clues About Processes Linked to Birth Defects

Live Cell Imaging Reveals New Clues About Processes Linked to Birth Defects

John Wallingford, professor of molecular biosciences at The University of Texas at Austin, and his team used a process called live cell imaging to make observations about how a developing embryo transforms from its early ball shape into a more elongated shape with a distinct head and rear. Disruptions to this process in human embryos can lead to birth defects.

UT Biologist Awarded Prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship

UT Biologist Awarded Prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship

John Wallingford, professor of molecular biosciences at The University of Texas at Austin, has been awarded a fellowship by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.

New Vaccine Advances Could Help Against More Viral Illnesses

New Vaccine Advances Could Help Against More Viral Illnesses

Ching-Lin Hsieh and Jason McLellan are among the UT Austin scientists who have engineered a protein of the human metapneumovirus for use in vaccines. Credit: Vivian Abagiu

Some of the same researchers at The University of Texas at Austin who created a key to all coronavirus vaccines used in the U.S. have made a similar advance against the human metapneumovirus (hMPV), one of a handful of remaining respiratory viruses for which there is currently no vaccine.

Dried Bacteria Could Revolutionize Testing, Laboratory Science

Dried Bacteria Could Revolutionize Testing, Laboratory Science

When you think of the type of labs driving biomedical discoveries, you may envision beakers and test tubes filled with a rainbow of chemicals, where much of the magic of scientific experimentation takes place. However, those chemicals are expensive. Pure forms can be difficult to manufacture, ship and store, and they often have to be ordered in very large quantities, which creates barriers to scientific experimentation and advancement.

Gene Editing Gets Safer Thanks to Redesigned Protein

Gene Editing Gets Safer Thanks to Redesigned Protein

UT Austin researchers were surprised to discover that when Cas9 encounters a mismatch in a certain part of the DNA (red and green), instead of giving up and moving on, it has a finger-like structure (cyan) that swoops in and holds on to the DNA, making it act as if it were the correct sequence. Credit: Jack Bravo/University of Texas at Austin.

One of the grand challenges with using CRISPR-based gene editing on humans is that the molecular machinery sometimes makes changes to the wrong section of a host's genome, creating the possibility that an attempt to repair a genetic mutation in one spot in the genome could accidentally create a dangerous new mutation in another.

A New Way to Disarm Antibiotic Resistance in Deadly Bacteria

A New Way to Disarm Antibiotic Resistance in Deadly Bacteria

An antibiotic resistant bacterium (Klebsiella pneumoniae) is treated solely with the last-resort antibiotic imipenem (left); and with a combination of imipenem and a DsbA inhibitor, causing it to rupture and die (right). Image credit: Nikol Kadeřábková.

Scientists think they may have uncovered a whole new approach to fighting antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which, if successful, would help address a health crisis responsible for more deaths every year than either AIDS or malaria.

Unraveling How One of the Most Important Cell Types Form

Unraveling How One of the Most Important Cell Types Form

Scientists studying plants have uncovered a key part of the process that forms one of the most important cell types on Earth.

Dan Leahy Selected as Fellow of American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Dan Leahy Selected as Fellow of American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

​The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology today announced that Daniel Leahy has been named among its newest class of fellows. Designation as a fellow recognizes outstanding accomplishments in research, education, mentorship and service. Leahy is the first UT Austin faculty member to be named a fellow and a member of the second-ever fellows class. 

Ancient Cousins, New AI Could Reveal Clues About Causes of Birth Defects

Ancient Cousins, New AI Could Reveal Clues About Causes of Birth Defects

Editor's note: Each December, the journal Science identifies one scientific discovery as its "Breakthrough of the Year." For 2021, this recognition went to AlphaFold and RoseTTA-fold—artificial intelligence software that accurately predicts the 3D structure of proteins. Guest writer and microbiology graduate student Colleen Mulvihill reports on one example of how UT Austin scientists are using the new technology to solve longstanding questions in human health.

Keiko Torii Receives Asahi Prize

Keiko Torii Receives Asahi Prize

University of Texas at Austin professor of molecular biosciences Keiko Torii has won the Asahi Prize from the Asahi Shimbun Foundation in recognition of "her breakthroughs on growth control of plants and the development mechanism of stomata."

Put No Effort into Teaching (and Other Advice Janice Fischer Ignored)

Put No Effort into Teaching (and Other Advice Janice Fischer Ignored)

A geneticist and award-winning teacher on the resurgence of teaching at research universities, how students have changed since she's been in the business, and the joys of repetition.

UT Austin's McLellan Receives O'Donnell Award in Medicine

UT Austin's McLellan Receives O'Donnell Award in Medicine

UT Austin structural biologist Jason McLellan, Ph.D., is the recipient of the 2022 Edith and Peter O'Donnell Award in Medicine from TAMEST (The Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas). He was chosen for his breakthrough research in mapping, modifying, and stabilizing coronavirus spike proteins, which paved the way for the creation of leading COVID-19 vaccines.

Potential New Gene Editing Tools Uncovered

Potential New Gene Editing Tools Uncovered

Scientists have found over a thousand versions of a natural gene editor in bacteria, which could lead to better gene editing tools to treat diseases. Image courtesy: National Human Genome Research Institute.

Few developments have rocked the biotechnology world or generated as much buzz as the discovery of CRISPR-Cas systems, a breakthrough in gene editing recognized in 2020 with a Nobel Prize. But these systems that naturally occur in bacteria are limited because they can make only small tweaks to genes. In recent years, scientists discovered a different system in bacteria that might lead to even more powerful methods for gene editing, given its unique ability to insert genes or whole sections of DNA in a genome.