Gabriela Popescu, PhD ’99

Gabriela Popescu.

“I attribute the success of my lab to the continuity and support that I have had at every step."

Gabriela K. Popescu, PhD ’99, associate professor of biochemistry, has had an unusual career trajectory.

She studied biochemistry at the University of Bucharest in her native Romania and conducted research at Yale University and the University of Michigan.

She completed her PhD and postdoctoral research at UB and stayed on as a faculty member, winning a tenure-track position in 2006.

Her hiring was in conjunction with the strategic strength Molecular Recognition in Biological Systems and Bioinformatics identified in UB 2020, the university’s long-range strategic plan.

Popescu credits UB and her mentors with cultivating her potential as a researcher and enabling her to make major discoveries early on.

She is giving back by offering similar encouragement to a team of students who work in her laboratory. One graduating doctoral candidate recently had four first-author publications and four job offers.

“I attribute the success of my lab to the continuity and support that I have had at every step,” Popescu says of her time at UB.

And her success is notable.

Popescu is the senior author on a paper that recently was selected and evaluated by the Faculty of 1000, placing her work in its library of the top 2 percent of articles in biology and medicine.

Research described in the paper sheds light on processes involving the synaptic protein NMDA receptor, whose over activity has been implicated in neurodegenerative conditions and mental illness.

The paper received two out of three stars—or a “very good” rating—by an evaluator with the post-publication peer review service.

To be recommended for F1000 Prime, a research article has to have been recognized as being “of special excellence,” says senior managing editor Martin Delamare.

Bruce E. Maki, a PhD candidate in neuroscience at UB, is lead author on the paper, which was originally published in the October 19, 2012 issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry. Co-authors are Teresa K. Aman, a postdoctoral associate in biochemistry, and former PhD students Stacy A. Amico-Ruvio and Cassandra L. Kussius.