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College of Medicine researchers receive more than $800,000 for studies in May

Penn State College of Medicine faculty received more than $800,000 to study a variety of topics from cancer therapeutics and cellular function to mental illness and patient communication.

“Targeting Metabolism to Increase PARP Inhibitor Sensitivity of Ovarian Cancer Cells”

Investigator: Katherine Aird, assistant professor of cellular and molecular physiology

Grant Amount: $50,000

Awarded by: Sandy Rollman Ovarian Cancer Foundation

Goal: A common treatment for ovarian cancers is a therapy that prevents DNA in tumors from being repaired called a poly adenosine diphosphate-ribose polymerase (PARP) inhibitor. Unfortunately, a small subset of patients have tumors that have mechanisms by which they can continue to repair DNA. The goal of this project is to develop new therapies that will sensitize this subset of patients to PARP inhibitors.

“Understanding Store-Operated Calcium Signal Transduction”

Investigator: Donald Gill, professor and chair of the Department of Cellular and Molecular Physiology

Grant Amount: $375,001

Awarded by: National Institute of General Medical Sciences

Goal: Calcium signals are critical to controlling various functions in cells throughout the body. This project studies two proteins essential to calcium signaling called stromal interaction molecule and Orai. An increased understanding of the mechanisms of calcium signaling may lead to the development of new therapies that can prevent and cure cardiovascular and immunological disease.

“Building Systems to Foster Deliberative Practice of Communications Skills”

Investigator: Dr. Paul Haidet, distinguished professor of medicine, humanities and public health sciences

Grant Amount: $24,860

Awarded by: Arnold P. Gold Foundation

Goal: Build and evaluate a system for the development and practice of patient-centered communication skills during medical residency.

“The role of PTP1B in cell-to-cell spread of herpes simplex virus in vivo”

Investigator: Christopher Norbury, professor of microbiology and immunology

Grant Amount: $150,000

Awarded by: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

Goal: Study how PTP1B, a signaling molecule expressed in host cells, facilitates the cell-to-cell spread of herpes simplex virus between tissues so that the virus can evade the pre-existing antibody response developed by the body during the initial infection.

“Discovering Transcriptomic Subtypes of Chandelier Cells and their Cell State Signatures in Schizophrenia”

Investigator: Anirban Paul, assistant professor of neural and behavioral sciences

Grant Amount: $70,000

Awarded by: Brain and Behavior Research Foundation

Goal: Chandelier cells are poised to play a critical role in cognitive function. This study will investigate subtypes of chandelier cells that are altered in diseases. Knowledge of these subsets may lead to the discovery of cell-type specific cellular substrates that are dysfunctional in schizophrenia.

“Oxidant Exposure and Related Harm from Tobacco Smoke”

Investigator: John Richie, professor of pharmacology and public health sciences

Grant Amount: $299,297

Awarded by: National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute

Goal: Oxidants are a toxic substance abundant in tobacco smoke. This project will study the levels of oxidants and other free radicals delivered by various combustible tobacco products and brands. Investigators will also perform exposure studies to determine the impact of tobacco smoke oxidants on lung damage and inflammation. This data may be useful for helping the Food and Drug Administration development appropriate regulatory policies.

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