Two South Carolina Researchers receive NIH Collaboration Award

Dr. Srikripa Chandrasekaran from Furman University and Dr. Lukasz KozubowskiColumbia, SC — The South Carolina IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence (SC INBRE) is pleased to announce that a team of South Carolina biomedical researchers has received a National Institutes of Health National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) P20 collaboration award. This goal of this one-year funding opportunity is to encourage collaborations between NIGMS Institutional Development Award (IDeA) programs investigators while providing students a broad continuum of research opportunities. The team of Dr. Srikripa Chandrasekaran from Furman University and Dr. Lukasz Kozubowski from Clemson University were awarded $147,340 for their project entitled, “SC INBRE Collaborative Administrative Supplement – Role of Hsp90 in Resistance of Cryptococcus neoformans to Fluconazole.” Dr. Chandrasekaran is a current recipient of an SC INBRE Developmental Research Project Program award; Dr. Kozubowski is a member of the Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) Eukaryotic Pathogens Innovation Center.

“This project explores mechanisms that allow a fungal pathogen, Cryptococcus neoformans, to become resistant to anti-fungal therapy,” explained Dr. Chandrasekaran. “Fungal pathogens are eukaryotes and therefore it is difficult to design a drug, which is both effective against the fungus yet not toxic to humans. The antifungal drug, fluconazole, is less toxic to humans, but unfortunately resistance to this drug is common, which makes the therapy less effective. Our preliminary study reveals that Hsp90 chaperone plays a role in the development of anti-fungal drug resistance in Cryptococcus neoformans and our goal is to unearth specific mechanisms through which Hsp90 influences drug resistance.”

Drs. Chandrasekaran and Kowbowski met in graduate school in 2001 and began collaborating in 2014. Chandrasekaran says, “My contributions to collaborative projects with Dr. Kozubowski are based on my expertise in stress response in human cells, while he was exploring the contribution of cell division to drug resistance in Cryptococcus neoformans. Hsp 90 has been shown to play an important role in drug resistance in the human pathogen, Candida albicans, but its role in regulating drug resistance in Cryptococcus remains unclear. Our preliminary results encouraged us to explore this possibility, which led to this project. We are thankful for the ability to engage students in this exciting project and thanks to the NIGMS INBRE-COBRE Administrative Supplement grant opportunity, we can further contribute to scientific collaborations between Furman University and Clemson University.”


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Said Dr. Edie Goldsmith, SC INBRE Program Director, “This is the second consecutive year NIGMS has offered this award and the second consecutive year a research team from South Carolina has been chosen as a recipient. It has been said that we are stronger together. This award shows how strong biomedical research has grown in South Carolina – not only through our program, but also in collaborations with other IDeA-funded programs. We look forward to future collaborations with other programs and receiving additional awards.”

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ABOUT SC INBRE
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) established the IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE) to increase research capacity by programmatic expansion and networking of research activities of faculty and students at academic institutions throughout certain targeted states – with South Carolina being one of those states.

SC INBRE is achieving that goal by supporting the career development of faculty and hands-on research training of students at the program’s network institutions through annual workshops for faculty and students focusing on career development, mentoring and other relevant topics, as well as funding opportunities available to any faculty or student at SC INBRE’s network institutions. http://scinbre.org

SC INBRE is supported by an Institutional Development Award (IDeA) from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the NIH, number P20GM103499-20. The content of this release is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH.