Table of Contents
UT Med School Biochemist Jianping Jin Named 2008 Pew Scholar
Program designed to support young investigators
Jianping Jin, Ph.D., an assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at The University of Texas Medical School at Houston, has been named a 2008 Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences by The Pew Charitable Trusts. Jin will receive $240,000 over four years to support his research into the molecular machinery responsible for protein degradation.
The Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences is designed to support young investigators of outstanding promise in the basic and clinical sciences relevant to the advancement of human health. This year, 149 institutions were invited to nominate a candidate in basic biomedical research and 117 nominations were received. Only 20 scholars were selected.
"We are exceptionally proud and fortunate to have Dr. Jin as one of our faculty members," said Rodney E. Kellems, Ph.D., professor and chairman of the Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology at the UT Medical School at Houston. Jin joined the department in 2007.
Jin believes a better understanding of the protein degradation process, which is called ubiquitination or ubiquitylation, could lead to treatments for cancer and Alzheimer's disease. Defects in the degradation process can cause these and other conditions.
"When proteins are either damaged or no longer needed, cells will clean them up, because accumulating them can be toxic," Jin said. "To determine which proteins need to be destroyed, cells label them with a ubiquitin tag. This process is controlled by the sequential actions of three enzymes, E1, E2 and E3."
Jin rewrote the book on ubiquitin tags when as a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard Medical School he discovered that there are actually two E1 enzymes instead of one. This second E1 enzyme is called Uba6 and it is an essential gene for mouse development. Little is known beyond that. "We have opened a door," Jin said. "We're not sure what is going on in that room but we know that it is important."
Jin is particularly interested in developing treatments for cancer which claimed the lives of his mother and an uncle. "The discovery of Uba6-dependent ubiquitin signaling pathway could lead to new drug development to treat human diseases that stem from the accumulation of unhealthy and unwanted proteins in our bodies," he said.
By Rob Cahill, Institutional Advancement
Previous story Next story