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Higuchi Biosciences Center announces J.R. and Inez Jay Fund research awards

Thursday, June 11, 2015

LAWRENCE — Three projects by faculty from the departments of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Chemistry, and Pharmacology & Toxicology were selected to receive 2015 J.R. and Inez Jay Fund research awards.

The proposal, titled “Mechanistic Understanding of Oxidation of Therapeutic Proteins after Subcutaneous Administration,” submitted by Laird ForrestLaird Forrest, associate professor of pharmaceutical chemistry, was selected. Forrest will collaborate on this research project with Christian Schoneich, distinguished professor and chair of the pharmaceutical chemistry department. The project’s purpose is to identify mechanisms behind the immunological intolerance patients commonly develop against biotherapeutics and, specifically, what role the lymphatic system and oxidation play in this. A greater understanding of these processes may lead to improvements in the formulation of protein drugs to reduce oxidation-induced immunogenicity and improved bioavailability.

The second project selected for funding was submitted by Mario Rivera, professor of chemistry. The project, titled “Validating theMario Rivera Bacterioferritin/Bfd Protein-Protein Interaction as Target for Antibiotic Development,” will be conducted in collaboration with Scott Lovell, director of the COBRE’s protein structure laboratory, and Richard Bunce, professor in the chemistry department at Oklahoma State University. With this project, the researchers propose to explore a new and innovative direction for the development of antibiotics by exploiting the vulnerability represented by bacterial iron homeostasis. This new approach may lead to the discovery of novel biological targets in bacteria and the development of therapeutic agents for the treatment of antibiotic-resistant infections.

The final project, titled “SUMOylation of Bag3 in Hepatocytes and Hepatoma Cell Lines,” was submitted by Jeffrey Staudinger,Jeffrey Staudinger professor of pharmacology and toxicology. Staudinger will conduct this project in collaboration with Todd Williams, director of KU's Mass Spectrometry & Analytical Proteomics Laboratory, and Yokashi Azuma, associate professor in the Department of Molecular Biosciences. Numerous diseases are associated with chronic and uncontrolled inflammation, which is thought to play a causal role in the eventual development of certain diseases. The goal of this project is to provide new molecular insights regarding the underlying biology of chronic inflammation which, in turn, may provide new opportunities to develop novel pharmacological strategies for addressing multiple diseases that are related to chronic inflammation.

The J.R. and Inez W. Jay Research Fund was established in 1977 through an estate gift to KU Endowment from Inez W. Jay; her late husband, John R. Jay, had been a pharmacist in Wichita.

The purpose of the Jay Fund is to stimulate interdisciplinary, biomedical research activities in pursuit of large external grants such as multi-investigator R01 awards, program projects, and center grants awarded under the tutelage of the HBC. All biomedical scientists holding principal investigator status at KU are eligible to apply for one of these awards. The emphasis of the awards is strongly on interdisciplinary, collaborative research efforts. Recipients are selected by members of the HBC internal advisory committee.

KU Endowment is the independent, nonprofit organization serving as the official fundraising and fund-management organization for KU. Founded in 1891, KU Endowment was the first foundation of its kind at a U.S. public university.