Moriah Beck, assistant professor of chemistry at Wichita State University, has been awarded a three-year, $415,000 Academic Research Enhancement Award from the National Institutes of Health for her research, “Probing Actin Filament Assembly, Structure, and Dynamics by Palladin.”
The work focuses on the human protein called palladin, a key regulator of our cells’ most abundant protein actin.
Palladin has been shown to be essential for life during early embryonic development, but too much of this protein is found in the most metastatic populations of cancer cells.
Beck’s lab – which includes nine undergraduate and graduate students – will use the grant to determine how palladin activates the reorganization of cell structures and stimulates tumors cells to spread and propels bacteria during an infection.
“If we can understand how palladin drives cells to move, then we can start to work on approaches to prevent metastasis by interfering with this critical protein,” Beck says.