Glycans are sugar molecules ubiquitously found on the surfaces of all mammalian cells, where they typically interact with other molecules to influence a wide variety of cellular activities, including immune system function, inflammation, angiogenesis and a variety of disease processes.
"In the past, glycans were not an integral part of molecular biology studies because they were more difficult to analyze," said Varki, whose recent published work has linked glycans called sialic acids to inflammation and the biology of cancer and diabetes. "However, they are important molecules in all biological systems and the technology is now here to integrate them fully. Following the earlier lead of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences and the National Cancer Institute, the NHLBI has now established this special PEG program to recognize and support this transition."
The educational component led by Esko will train "scientifically bilingual" investigators conversant in glycan chemistry and biology and capable of conducting multidisciplinary research. It will provide mentored research experiences that include hands-on and didactic training in basic glycosciences, with clinical correlations and biotechnology applications. This will increase the number of highly trained, committed investigators pursuing careers in the glycosciences in academia, medicine and the private sector.
At UC San Diego, the NHLBI grant will focus on glycan modulation of inflammatory responses and fund four collaborative projects: A project lead by Varki will elucidate how a family of sialic-binding molecules called siglecs regulates the immune response. A project headed by Esko will study how molecules called glycosaminoglycans regulate white blood cells and blood vessel biology. Victor Nizet MD, professor of pediatrics and pharmacology, will study how white blood cells deal with microbes that m
|Contact: Scott LaFee|
University of California - San Diego