News and Highlights

Cville Weekly Article, UVA researchers zero in on ebola “cure”

Ebola. The flu. The common cold. None of them have cures, or even adequate prevention drugs because they evolve and splay into thousands—possibly millions—of varying strains each year. Cell Biology faculty Judy White and Lukas Tamm are featured in the Cville Weekly. Read the full article here.

TearSolutions, Inc., a company spun out of NEI-supported research from the Laurie lab in Cell Biology, just closed its Series B funding of $8.5M.

TearSolutions, Inc., a company spun out of NEI-supported research from the Laurie lab in Cell Biology, just closed its Series B funding of $8.5M. This support was needed to carry the company forward through its current phase 2 trial of ‘Lacripep’ in 201 primary Sjogren’s Syndrome dry eye patients at 27 sites nationwide. If of interest click here.
Follow trial progress here.

The Executive Chairman and Cofounder of TearSolutions is Charlottesville’s Mark Logan, former Chairman, CEO and President of VISX, Inc (invented, obtained FDA approval and commercialized LASIK). TearSolutions President/CEO is Tom Gadek, PhD, a Berkeley chemist who invented the dry eye drug now known as Xiidra. Other members of TearSolutions information here.

Professor Bob Bloodgood, recipient of a 2017 Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching

The Department of Cell Biology is proud to announce that Professor Bob Bloodgood is the recipient of a 2017 Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. Through the years, Bob has been revered for his educational contributions and leadership in the graduate and medical curricula at the School of Medicine, and his interest and support of education has extended beyond the University both locally and nationally. As well, he has been a leading force in developing a program of research on medical and graduate education at the School of Medicine. Medical students who have taken the preclinical NextGen curriculum enthusiastically joined together to nominate and support Bob’s recognition through this award.

UVA startup, TearSolutions Inc, co-founded by Cell Biology’s Gordon Laurie, featured in Annual Report from UVA’s Licensing and Ventures Group

The recently released Annual Report from UVa’s Licensing and Ventures Group includes a feature on the history and progress of TearSolutions, Inc., a UVa startup cofounded by Cell Biology’s Gordon Laurie.  TearSolutions was the first recipient of the new UVa Seed Fund, and currently has in Phase I/II Clinical Trial a novel treatment for ‘Dry Eye Disease’ based on the National Eye Institute-supported discovery of ‘lacritin’ in the Laurie lab.  A July 31, 2017 NY Times article by Jane Brody on Dry Eye and a National Eye Institute press release marking July as ‘Dry Eye Awareness Month’ mention of lacritin.  Progress on lacritin and the trial can be followed at

Promotion of Adrian Halme to Associate Professor

Adrian Halme has been promoted to Associate Professor of Cell Biology effective July 1st. This is in recognition of his innovative research program on regeneration and growth control using the Drosophila model, as well as his well-known effectiveness as an educator of undergraduates, graduate students and medical students.


BIMS Student Kelly Barford featured in UVA Health Systems Pulse Magazine

For 25-year-old Kelly Barford, a fourth-year neuroscience graduate student working in the Winckler Lab, just keeping her schedule straight is a challenge. Each week she juggles time in her research lab, science classes she teaches in area elementary schools, and leadership roles in “Women in Math and Science” and “Science Delivered Charlottesville.” Recently, Barford took an hour in a coffee shop (coffee is pretty much a staple of her diet) to answer a few questions about the BIMS program—an interdisciplinary graduate program that prepares PhD students to become scientific leaders—and her personal path.

Read the article here.

Congratulations to Dr. Adrian Halme, Assistant Professor of Cell Biology, recipient of the 2017 UVa Medical Education Fellowship Award

We are pleased to announce that Adrian Halme, Assistant Professor of Cell Biology, is the recipient of one of the 2017 UVa Medical Education Fellowship Awards from the Dean’s Office. This award will fund release time for Adrian’s further development of a writing workshop available to 1st year graduate students in all of the BIMS PhD programs. This Workshop was developed in collaboration with Jim Casanova, Professor of Cell Biology, and a number of BIMS faculty serve as mentors for the participating students. The workshop is focused on developing actual fellowship applications, some of which have been submitted to external funding agencies and resulted in funded fellowships for graduate students. Development of effective writing skills is a crucial tool for the success of future scientists and educators.

New dry eye drug is first that aims to treat cause, rather than symptoms

Gordon Laurie of the UVA School of Medicine’s Department of Cell Biology has developed a new potential treatment for dry eye, with human testing to start in March. The drug differs from other treatments of dry eye in that it aims to treat the cause of dry eye instead of masking the symptoms. Read the article in UVA Today here.


Dr. Bhupal Ban, Director of the Antibody Engineering and Technology Core awarded the “Outstanding Core of the Year”

The Antibody Engineering and Technology Core (AbET) directed by Cell Biology faculty member, Dr. Bhupal Ban along with Faculty Director, Tim Bullock, Ph.D. and staffed by Sally Adams and Donna Adams was awarded the “Outstanding Core of the Year” 2016 recognition.  It was noted that the core under Dr. Ban’s leadership has undergone an incredible transformation moving beyond the production of monoclonal antibodies to making recombinant antibodies, humanizing antibodies and general protein recombinant expression.  Progress is also under way to secure libraries for antibody production as well.  It is expected that these advances will position the core to support developing translational projects among the SoM faculty.

Congratulations to Gordon Laurie for receiving the Pinn Scholars award

We are pleased to announce that Gordon Laurie, Professor of Cell Biology, was selected to be a member of the inaugural class of Pinn Scholars in the School of Medicine for 2016.  The Pinn Scholars program was designed to support and recognize our mid-level faculty and is named in honor of Dr. Vivian Pinn, the only woman and only African American graduate of the UVA School of Medicine Class of 1967.  Gordon was chosen on the basis of his past research accomplishments and a proposed research project, to take his work in novel directions.  His project:  Development of a structural model of ocular homeostasis to support the development of candidate drugs for dry eye disease.