"The fact that our scientists have been so successful in winning these awards speaks volumes for the high caliber of research being performed at Scripps Florida and in the Department of Cancer Biology," said John Cleveland, Ph.D., chairman of the department, which is located on the Jupiter, Florida campus of TSRI. "During these times when funding is so tight, to have so many of our investigators be given awards is remarkable."
The grants, from the NIH and the Department of Defense, included the following awards:
Petrie's first grant (approximately $2.4 million) studies how a gene known as Notch3 that controls the development and production of T lymphocytes, white blood cells whose development starts in the bone marrow but is completed in the thymus, and then attack infectious agents as well as cancer cells. Petrie and his colleagues have discovered that inactivation of Notch3 results in an accelerated, age-related decline in the ability of the bone marrow to replenish T lymphocytes; Notch3 has also been implicated in another age-related degenerative disorder, relating to stroke. Petrie's goal is to understand how Notch3 normally prevents this aging of the immune system, and how Notch3 functions in general in blood cells as well as other tissue types.
The second grant (approximately $1.9 million) will support Petrie's work understanding regrowth of the thymus in adults and the elderly. Decreases in T cell immunity are a direct consequence of age-related degeneration of the thymus, a process that has been linked to premature aging of stromal cells (which form the supportive framework of the thymus and other organs). Using an experimental model of thymus regrowth, Dr. Petrie and his colleagues will seek to identify the changes in gene expression that occur after induction of regrowth, and to recapitulate these through pharmaceutical approaches for thymus regeneration therapy.
In addition to these funds, investigators in the Department of Cancer Biology were awarded a four-year grant (approximately $1.6 million) from NIH's National Institute of General Medical Science to study the structural dynamics of vinculin, a cytoskeletal protein that plays key roles in controlling cell-cell and cell-matrix adhesion complexes, as well as cell migration and cancer metastasis.
|Contact: Keith McKeown|
Scripps Research Institute