Unrestricted gifts permit TSRI to achieve landmark disease research results through the crucial research support of our world-class faculty, as well as the purchase of new state-of-the-art equipment – leading to development of new therapies.
Retention and Funding of Key Faculty
Unrestricted gifts have assisted one of our scientists, Professor Luc Teyton, during a critical gap in his funding, stabilizing his important research program so that he has been able to maintain productivity while external funding and private funding have been temporarily disrupted. Dr. Teyton has provided an answer to the 40-year-old mystery of how certain genetic mutations lead to Type 1 diabetes. This new molecular understanding could lead to novel therapies for the disease, as well as celiac disease, and other autoimmune diseases.
Young scientists face an incredibly challenging funding environment Unrestricted gifts have also assisted three of our young scientists, Assistant Professor Katja Lamia, Associate Professor Changchun Xiao, and Assistant Professor Takanori Otomo through providing critical institutional support so that they can explore new approaches and generate preliminary data in their disease research programs. As a result, these young scientists will be able to compete successfully for subsequent major federal grants and remain in clinical research – a tremendous future return on investment, which ensures leading science in the years ahead.
Dr. Lamia is a gifted young scientist involved in cutting-edge cancer research. She has demonstrated great promise and innovation in her work. She has shown that two proteins critical for maintaining healthy day-night cycles also protect against mutations that could lead to cancer. A disruption of this circadian clock means a greater likelihood of some kind of pathology, like cancer, diabetes, or heart disease. The two proteins which Dr. Lamia studied have an unexpected role in DNA repair, possibly protecting cells from cancer-causing mutations triggered by UV radiation. She might eventually harness this knowledge for pharmaceutical targeting to regulate tumor formation.
Dr. Xiao is a promising young investigator who is advancing discovery and innovation. His research suggests that small RNAs play critical roles in immune responses, autoimmune diseases, and lymphoma, which could lead to better diagnostic and therapeutic approaches to diseases of the immune system. His research has focused on a cluster of six microRNAs known as miR-17-92, which have been found to overproduce in lymphomas, leukemias, brain cancers, breast cancers, prostate cancers, and other tumor types. Dr. Xiao also studies lupus, a chronic and potentially fatal autoimmune disorder, and has found a good target for future therapies.
Dr. Otomo has determined how two proteins help create organelles, or specialized subunits within a cell, that play a vital role in maintaining cell health. This discovery opens the door for research on substances that could interfere with the formation of these organelles and lead to new therapies for cancer. The study solved a big mystery—scientists had known that the proteins were linked, but no one had explained clearly why.
Cutting-Edge Equipment for Scientists
Unrestricted gifts helped purchase a new Nikon microscope and instrumentation upgrades which allow TSRI researchers with rapid access to probe more deeply and clearly into the microscopic elements of cells by using the latest in advanced molecular and atomic imaging technology. The system provides nearly two times the resolution as conventional optical microscopes and enables detailed visualization of minute intracellular structures and their interactive functions. It also delivers a highly uniform field of illumination across a broad spectrum range into the near infra-red, previously unseen in many imaging modes.
These are just a few of the ways that unrestricted gifts are achieving breakthroughs and saving lives in critical disease areas.