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    APRIL 28, 2005
 
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$1 Million Club grows to include 76 researchers from 8 schools, colleges

Last year, Temple created a new resource to recognize and support research: The $1 Million Research Awards Club. This year, 76 researchers have been invited to attend the annual dinner in their honor, 14 of whom are new additions.

All are principal investigators for research projects that total $1 million or more in external funding, and have an active grant or contract as of Dec. 31, 2004. The club, chaired by psychology professor Laurence Steinberg and pharmacology chair Nae Dun, acts as an advisory council to provide ideas and feedback to researchers.

“Our goal is to provide a stimulating, supportive environment where research can thrive and grow and where investigators can be successful, externally funded researchers at all stages of their careers,” said Kenneth J. Soprano, vice president for research and graduate studies.

Members include researchers from eight schools and colleges across the University; topping the list is the School of Medicine, with 42 members.

One of the school’s five new members is biochemistry professor David Ash.

Ash

As an enzymologist in the School of Medicine, Ash studies the engines that power chemical reactions in the body.

“The role of enzymes is to accelerate chemical reactions, which are essential to life,” explained Ash, who has been funded by the National Institutes of Health for the past 12 years.

Ash focuses specifically on the enzyme arginase, one of thousands in the body, which powers the chemical reaction that leads to nitrogen disposal. When he began his research, the understanding of arginase was poor and he never expected that his exploration would lead to a link between arginase and erectile dysfunction.

“Science sometimes leads you in unexpected directions,” he said. “We have shown that arginase provides a means of regulating nitric oxide production in mammals. Nitric oxide is the messenger molecule that is responsible for sexual response in males and females.”

Ultimately, Ash’s work might suggest alternate means for treating such disorders as erectile dysfunction, although, Ash notes, the currently available therapies are fairly effective.

Ash joined Temple 23 years ago after completing postdoctoral training at Penn State University.

He team-teaches medical and dental biochemistry and the graduate course “Enzymes and Proteins.”

An example of the five new members who have joined from the College of Science and Technology, for a total of 17 from the college, is cancer researcher and biochemist George Tuszynski, a professor of biology and a member of the Center for Neurovirology and Cancer Biology.

Tuszynski

Since coming to Temple from MCP Hahnemann University in 2001, Tuszynski and his group have worked to get cancer therapeutics they have developed into the clinic. To this end, Tuszynski co-founded TSP Pharma Inc., a small biotech company whose goals are to treat cancer by targeting and killing tumor cells and their blood supply with peptides developed in his lab.

“TSP Pharma is unique among biotech companies since it will target the tumor with peptides labeled with radioactive isotopes that will not just slow the growth of the tumor but kill the rogue cancer and vascular cells that make cancer grow and spread,” he said.

Among the arsenal of peptides discovered by Tuszynski that TSP Pharma will focus on are Cevastat, a 6 amino acid peptide, and angiocidin, a small polypeptide protein, both of which have potent anti-tumor activity in their unaltered native states.

“These peptides have shrunk tumors in animals, they seem to be tolerated very well, and they don’t appear to have any major toxic effects,” Tuszynski said. “So they seem to be ideal candidates for development as anti-cancer therapeutics.”

Tuszynski, whose research funding comes primarily from the National Institutes of Health, said nearly a dozen patents have been issued regarding these therapeutics.

“We would now like to do some toxicology studies and eventually launch a phase I clinical trial,” he said. “I think we have a great deal of potential with these therapeutics and in the next couple of years we can get this research from ‘the bench to the bedside,’ so to speak.”

Highlighting CST’s hallmark that top researchers must teach in the classroom, Tuszynski has also been excited about the chance to work with students. He has developed and teaches Biochemistry 375/475, a “grueling introduction” to biochemistry, and he also teaches several seminar courses on the mechanism of tumor metastasis and angiogenesis.

“We have the opportunity to do some teaching here at Temple, which we were not able to do at MCP Hahnemann,” he said. “A lot of students want to get jobs in the pharmaceutical industry, and we can help them work toward that with the technology we have here and the type of drug development we’re doing as part of our research program.”

By Eryn Jelesiewicz and Preston M. Moretz

New members of the $1 Million Research Awards Club
David Ash, School of Medicine Vasileios Megalooikonomou, College of Science and Technology
Ann Barr, College of Health Professions Francesca Peruzzi, College of Science and Technology
Satoru Eguchi, School of Medicine Abdelkarim Sabri, School of Medicine
James Gallo, School of Pharmacy Thomas Shaffer, School of Medicine
Antonio Giordano, College of Science and Technology Henry Simpkins, School of Medicine
Larry Icard, School of Social Administration

George Tuszynski, College of Science and Technology

Robert Levis, College of Science and Technology

Diane Woodruff-Pak, College of Liberal Arts

 

 

 


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