Roy J. Carver Department of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Molecular Biology 125th Points of Pride

Iowa State Home to World Renowned Library on Bacteriological Classification
Iowa State has one of the world’s foremost libraries on bacteriological classification thanks to Robert Buchanan, a faculty member beginning in 1904 who served as the first head of the bacteriology department from 1910 until 1948. He also was director of the Experiment Station from 1933 to 1948. He advanced the idea of organizing and conducting swine-breeding research on a regional basis through the cooperation of experiment stations. In 1940, he was instrumental in getting federal support for agricultural research at land-grant experiment stations.

Metabolomics Research Laboratory Established at Iowa State
In 2001, the Center for Designer Crops, a center of Iowa State’s Plant Sciences Institute, received a grant to establish a laboratory for research in the new area of metabolomics. Basil Nikolau, professor of biochemistry, biophysics and molecular biology and director of the center, would oversee the lab’s operation. The W. M. Keck Metabolomics Research Laboratory is designed to provide biologists state-of-the-art analytical capabilities for deciphering the underlying molecular processes that determine how organisms grow and develop. It was dedicated in 2004. An early discovery by Nikolau and his research team found new metabolic pathways important in establishing the outer barrier that plants use for protection from the environment. This barrier, called the cuticle, is important in the protection of crops from dehydration during drought and from invasion by fungal and bacterial pests.

Research Focuses on Improving Animal Products for Humans
Since 2000, Don Beitz, Charles F. Curtiss Distinguished Professor in Agriculture and Life Sciences in animal science and biochemistry, biophysics and molecular biology, has focused his research on a variety of nutritional biochemistry topics such as vitamin D3 and how it relates to beef tenderness and animal health. Beitz and his colleagues were the first to show that vitamin D3 supplements before harvest improved beef tenderness. He also evaluated the effects of animal protein, fats, vitamin D, calcium and a probiotic on plasma and tissue cholesterol. Recently he has studied the variation of fatty acid composition in beef and milk. This work has shown that selection of animals on the basis of fatty acid composition will result in production of healthier beef and milk.

Understanding of Viruses Used to Aid Plant and Human Health
Since joining the ISU faculty in 1988, W. Allen Miller, a professor of plant pathology and microbiology, has become one of the world’s leading authorities in the research of viruses. He and his colleagues study molecular biology of plant RNA viruses from several perspectives including RNA virus replication from plants to humans.