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Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Robert H. Newman, PhD

BMB graduate 2006, PhD program

robert

Rob completed the BMB PhD program in 2006 under the direction of Dr. Roger McMacken, where he used a combination of biochemical and biophysical approaches to better understand how the E. coli molecular chaperone, DnaJ, recognizes and promotes the active remodeling of the bacteriophage lambda pre-replicative complex. After graduating from BMB, Rob pursued postdoctoral training with Dr. Jin Zhang in the Department of Pharmacology and Molecular Sciences in the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. During his postdoc, Rob used strategies based on functional protein microarrays, bioinformatics analysis and live cell imaging to gain a systems-level view of human phosphorylation networks. Based on these studies, Rob received the A. MacGehee Harvey Award at the 2012 Johns Hopkins University Young Investigators’ Day.

Rob is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology at North Carolina A&T State University, where he continues to study the organization and regulation of cellular signaling pathways, with a particular emphasis on phosphorylation-dependent signaling. Research in his lab is organized around two central questions: 1) which cellular proteins are phosphorylated by a given kinase under physiological conditions and 2) how the specific kinases and phosphatases—and ultimately the signaling networks of which they are a part— are regulated in the native cellular environment. While the primary focus in the lab is on ROS- and protease-mediated modulation of signaling networks involved in diabetes and the immune response, the insight that is gained through these studies is likely to be broadly applicable to a variety of disorders, including cancer, cardiovascular disease and stroke. Rob is currently the lead PI on research projects funded by the NIH and NSF and was recently honored with the 2016 NC A&T Outstanding Young Investigator Award.

In addition to his research, Rob also has a passion for teaching undergraduate and graduate students to think critically and helping them become actively engaged in research. Indeed, he believes that one of his greatest contributions to research at NC A&T has been the development of future scientists. For instance, for the past four years, he has overseen the NSF-sponsored iBLEND biomathematics training program that provides multidisciplinary research experiences in systems biology for under-graduates across NC A&T. Likewise, he helped found NC A&T’s first international Genetically Engineered Machines (iGEM) synthetic biology team, serving as the team’s advisor since its inception in 2013. Finally, to provide additional research opportunities for students, he has been instrumental in the development of the SEA-PHAGES Phage Hunters course at NC A&T. SEA-PHAGES is an HHMI-sponsored course-based undergraduate research experience (CURE) where students learn and apply core microbiology, molecular biology and bioinformatics techniques to isolate, characterize and annotate the genomes of novel bacteriophages. For his contributions to teaching at the university, Rob also received the 2016 NC A&T Junior Faculty Teacher of the Year Award.

Rob offered the following remarks when we reached out to him about this profil: “I am truly grateful to the faculty and staff in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology for their outstanding mentorship and support. I am particularly indebted to my research advisor, Dr. Roger McMacken, who taught me to think critically and to be precise in the design, execution and interpretation of my experiments—traits that I now strive to instill in my own students. I have been fortunate to have maintained ties to the department over the years. For instance, during my postdoc, I had the pleasure of working with Dr. Randy Bryant to develop a special topics course focused on emerging synthetic biology strategies to study dynamic cellular processes (I believe that this experience was instrumental in helping me secure my current faculty position). More recently, I have been working with Drs. Pierre Coulombe, Janice Evans and Mike Matunis to develop a partnership between BMB and NC A&T to promote diversity and student success in the department and throughout the university. I consider myself fortunate to have been a part of the rich history of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. During my time at Hopkins, I had the privilege of working under the guidance of world-class researchers to better understand the mechanisms that underlie both physiological and pathological processes. I am grateful for the training that I received during my time in BMB and for the life-long friendships that were developed there, relationships that continue to enrich not only my life, but also the lives of my students and my family.”  - Rob

Robert H. Newman, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Biology
North Carolina A&T State University