April 2013

JBC/Herb Tabor Young Investigator Award winners

Tabor Awards logo

James Duce of the University of Leeds
James Duce, a senior research scientist and group leader at the University of Leeds, received the Journal of Biological Chemistry/Herbert Tabor Young Investigator Award in November at the 2012 Neurodegeneration Conference in Xcaret, Mexico, for his work on iron homeostasis in neurodegenerative diseases.
 

Duce played a pivotal role in identifying β-amyloid precursor protein, or APP, as a ferroxidase, and its ability to regulate neuron iron efflux. This also requires tau’s assistance in its trafficking to the neuron surface.
 
Abnormal accumulation of APP and tau protein is found in the brains of patients with neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, and Duce contends that studying these proteins “may provide pivotal information in discovering why iron-associated oxidative stress is of such prevalence in a variety of these pathologies.” In the future, he said, he hopes to “establish an underlying mechanism of iron dysregulation in many degenerative diseases that is able to unify a number of the proteins typically associated with pathology and to provide potential sites of action for therapeutic intervention.”


 
Tabor Awards logoXu Ding of UCSD
Xu Ding, a project scientist at the University of California, San Diego, was awarded the Journal of Biological Chemistry/Herb Tabor Young Investigator Award in November at the 2012 joint meeting of the American Society for Matrix Biology and the Society for Glycobiology in San Diego for his work with heparan sulfate. Ding first began studying heparan sulfate in graduate school and joined the laboratory of Jeffrey Esko at UCSD as a postdoctoral fellow to further explore the role of heparan sulfate in vascular biology and inflammation.
 
Recently, he discovered that vascular endothelial heparan sulfate is required for RAGE, which is short for receptor for advanced glycation end products, to signal. RAGE must oligomerize to signal, and heparan sulfate plays a crucial role in this. Furthermore, he and his colleagues have determined the structures of the RAGE/heparan sulfate complexes, leading to the development of antibodies that disrupt RAGE oligomerzation and signaling. This is of interest due to the major role that RAGE plays in diseases such as diabetes, atherosclerosis and cancer.


 
Tabor Awards logoAlexandra Naba of MIT
Alexandra Naba, a postdoctoral fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was awarded the Journal of Biological Chemistry/Herb Tabor Young Investigator Award in November for her work on the characterization of the composition of the extracellular matrix at the 2012 joint meeting of the American Society for Matrix Biology and the Society for Glycobiology in San Diego.
 
Naba first became interested in ECM signaling during the pursuit of her Ph.D., and upon completion she joined Richard Hyne’s Lab at MIT to “further explore how extracellular cues control normal and tumor epithelial cell morphogenesis and behavior.” She has played a lead role in the Matrisome Project, which aims to uncover “the complexity of extracellular matrices in tissues and tumors,” she explained, and she has worked with the Proteomics Platform of the Broad Institute to develop protocols and procedures to isolate and analyze ECM proteins from tumor and normal tissues. They are now in the process of analyzing patient samples to discover ways in which the ECM could influence cancer progression.
 
Naba adds, “We also hope that this approach will allow us to identify biomarkers that could serve as prognostic markers and diagnostic tools and possible novel therapeutic targets for cancer patients.”

Kyeorda KempKyeorda Kemp (kyeordakemp2010@u.northwestern.edu) is a postdoctoral researcher at Northwestern University.

 

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