Garden City, NY - June 19, 2017 - The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded Adelphi University Associate Professors Brian Stockman, Ph.D. and Melissa VanAlstine-Parris, Ph.D., both in the Department of Chemistry, a federal grant for $310,934. One of the main goals of the project is to immerse undergraduate students into cutting-edge scientific research including hands-on use of NMR spectroscopy instrumentation, medicinal chemistry and Trichomonas vaginalis cell biology. The award became active on June 1, 2017 and ends May 31, 2020.
The research will focus on trichomoniasis, the most prevalent non-viral sexually transmitted disease, with resistance to existing drugs becoming increasingly common in infected individuals. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recognizes trichomoniasis as a neglected parasitic infection, with more than one million new cases reported each year in the United States and an infection prevalence close to four million.
Although clinical manifestations of infection are typically mild, the immune system can be concomitantly compromised resulting in a higher susceptibility to more serious conditions such as cervical cancer, HIV-1, pelvic inflammatory disease, prostate cancer and benign prostatic hyperplasia. This project will evaluate two essential nucleoside ribohydrolase enzymes as targets for novel antitrichomonal drugs, which may also be broadly applicable to infections caused by related parasites.
Dr. Stockman and Dr. VanAlstine-Parris are taking a different approach than by other chemists in the past by targeting these enzymes. With the help of students, they will conduct research on compounds that block the enzymes the parasite needs to survive. This change may be the key and could prove effective, and will then be tested to see if blocking the enzymes kills the parasite.
“Trichomoniasis cases resulting from strains resistant to existing drug therapies continue to increase. However, research and development of antitrichomonal agents with novel mechanisms of action is largely non-existent in the pharmaceutical industry,” said Dr. Stockman, who worked for 18 years in the pharmaceutical industry before joining Adelphi in 2009. “This creates a perfect opportunity to engage undergraduate students in hypothesis-driven research toward an unmet medical need.”
“Receipt of this NIH award is a great reflection on the quality of highly innovative research projects from the Department of Chemistry faculty,” said Susan Briziarelli, Ph.D., acting dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Adelphi University. “This will build upon Adelphi University’s existing strengths in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education and help students gain critical research skills to remain competitive in today’s workforce.”
To learn more about the sciences at Adelphi University, visit arts-sciences.adelphi.edu.
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