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New year, new grants for College of Medicine researchers

Penn State College of Medicine faculty received more than 40 grants at the end of 2019. They will use a variety of approaches to understand how changes in cellular processes lead to disease, with the hopes of developing new therapeutic strategies.


A head-and-shoulders professional photo of Dr. Nikolay Dokholyan

Nikolay Dokholyan, PhD, MS

Nanoscale programming of cellular and physiological phenotypes

Investigator: Nikolay Dokholyan, PhD, MS, G. Thomas Passananti Professor and vice chair for research, Department of Pharmacology, and professor of biochemistry and molecular biology

Grant amount: $477,979 ($3,433,015 anticipated through December 2024)

Awarded by: National Institute of General Medical Sciences

Goal: This project seeks to design artificial proteins that respond to changes in pH and temperature in cellular environments, called nanoscale computing agents.

The development of this technology may help researchers study biological systems in greater detail and lead to the development of precision therapeutics for disease.



Mechanisms and regulation of brain iron uptake

Investigators: James Connor, MS, PhD, distinguished professor and vice chair for research in the Department of Neurosurgery and professor of neural and behavioral sciences and pediatrics; Ian Simpson, PhD, professor of neural and behavioral sciences

Grant amount: $548,913 ($2,659,562 anticipated through November 2024)

Awarded by: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Goal: Iron delivery to the brain is essential for multiple neurological processes.

A head-and-shoulders professional photo of James Connor, MS, PhD

James Connor, MS, PhD

A head-and-shoulders professional photo of Ian Simpson, PhD

Ian Simpson, PhD

Understanding how the brain acquires iron in a timely fashion and in adequate amounts may help researchers uncover therapeutic strategies for neurological diseases.

This study seeks to uncover how brain iron uptake is regulated at the cellular level and what conditions may affect that process.



A head-and-shoulders professional photo of Andrea Hobkirk, PhD

Andrea Hobkirk, PhD

Identifying dynamic epigenetic markers of addiction recovery using the oral transcriptome

Investigator: Andrea Hobkirk, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry and public health sciences

Grant amount: $34,995 ($69,991 anticipated through January 2020)

Awarded by: Brain & Behavior Research Foundation

Goal: Addiction is a chronic, relapsing disease.

Few methods exist for determining if and when patients have successfully responded to treatment.

This project will investigate if the molecules in a person’s saliva – which may change in response to complex, neurobiological changes that happen during addiction treatment – can identify if a patient may be at risk for relapse.



A head-and-shoulders professional photo of Vladimir Spiegelman, MD, PhD

Vladimir Spiegelman, MD, PhD

Role and mechanisms of IGF2BP1 in melanoma pathogenesis

Investigator: Vladimir Spiegelman, MD, PhD, professor and Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon Chair for Pediatric Cancer Research in the Department of Pediatrics and professor of pharmacology

Grant amount: $362,157 ($1,810,785 anticipated through November 2024)

Awarded by: National Cancer Institute

Goal: Melanoma is one of the most lethal forms of cancer.

Having a better understanding of the cellular processes that allow melanoma tumors to grow and spread may lead to new therapeutics.

This study will investigate how a protein called IGF2BP1, which is overexpressed in melanoma cancer cells, leads to the development and spread of the disease.



Other awards

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