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UA Center for Protein Structure and Function Receives $10.2 million

UA Center for Protein Structure and Function Receives $10.2 million

The Center for Protein Structure and Function has received a $10.2 million award from The National Institutes of Health National Center for Research Resources. This new five-year grant, the largest competitive research grant ever received by the University of Arkansas, will provide funding to continue the center, which was established in October 2000 with a $9.6 million NIH grant.

Proteins do nearly all the work in the cells of our bodies, ranging from brain function and nerve transmission to metabolic energy production and muscular contraction. Moreover, most diseases are associated with defects in protein function. Future advances in the diagnosis and treatment of human disease will depend upon better understanding of the thousands of proteins that are encoded within the genomes of humans and human pathogens. The center seeks to contribute to this fundamental understanding through detailed investigations of the molecular structure and function of proteins that play an important role in human disease.

More than 20 faculty members and 30 graduate students, postdoctoral students and technical staff work as multidisciplinary teams in the center to develop innovative approaches to biomedical research in protein structure and function. David Vicic, Matt McIntosh and Bob Gawley will develop new synthetic methods to prepare compounds that block chemokine receptors to provide a potential treatment for HIV infection. Robyn Goforth, Suresh Kumar and Ralph Henry will study the protein targeting process, which sends a protein to its correct location in the cell. Joshua Sakon, Kathryn Curtin and Michael Lehmann are studying protein interactions in the extracellular matrix, with the goal of developing a novel drug delivery system. Denise Greathouse, Grover P. Miller and Roger Koeppe II will examine the structure and function of membrane proteins, which play a crucial role in nerve transmission in brain and muscle. Kumar and Sakon will study the fibroblast growth factor signaling complex, which plays a key role in cell growth and wound healing. Frank Millett and Bill Durham will develop a new laser-excitation method to study how electron transfer in the mitochondria is used to produce the energy needed by a cell.

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