Cells like our own have a “control room” that regulates cell replication called the centrosome. Disrupt this core hub and you kill cell division. This simple idea is behind a $2 million NIH grant awarded this week to the USF College of Public Health’s Department of Global Health and the Florida Center for Drug Discovery and Innovation to combat malaria-related diseases.
The project began with a key discovery by USF faculty Drs. Michael White and Elena Suvorova. They revealed that in malaria-related parasites the centrosome hub is more complex and very different from their human host. The parasite hub houses novel factors including unusual protein kinases that offer new targets for drug development.
Principal Investigator White and co-PI Suvorova recruited USF medicinal chemist Dr. Jim Leahy, an expert in developing drugs against kinases in cancer, along with cell biologist Dr. Boris Striepen, of the University of Georgia, to propose this project to the National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Disease. NIAID endorsed the approach and the scientific team awarding a 5-year R01 grant totaling $2,123,111 that initiated on December 1.
Dr. Michael White, PhD, is a professor in the USF College of Public Health. The Department of Global Health is his academic home. The department offers more than 10 concentrations that lead to MPH, MSPH, DrPH, and PhD degrees, as well as several dual degrees, graduate certificates, and special programs. Most recently, Global Health added an online master of public health degree in infection control to its academic offerings.
Story courtesy of Kevin Williams, Florida Center for Drug Discovery and Innovation