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KU research award recipients working toward treatments for cancer, other diseases

Tuesday, June 02, 2020

LAWRENCE — Three projects with the potential to help patients suffering from chronic diseases were selected to receive the 2020 J.R. and Inez Jay Fund research award. Researchers from the Higuchi Biosciences Center and the departments of Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Medicinal Chemistry are among this year’s honorees.

Michael Hageman, the Valentino J. Stella Distinguished Professor of Pharmaceutical Chemistry,Michael Hageman received an award for a proposal titled “Translation of Injectable-to-Oral Pharmacotherapy: Application of E-Cadherin Binding Peptides as Oral Permeation Enhancers.” In collaboration with Teruna Siahaan, Aya and Takeru Higuchi Distinguished Professor of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Hageman will evaluate a hypothesis that, if correct, would permit efficient absorption of peptide/protein drugs through oral delivery rather than injections. This would be beneficial for patients suffering from chronic illnesses such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Frank J. SchoenenFrank Schoenen, associate research professor at the Higuchi Biosciences Center, submitted another of the selected projects: “Design, Synthesis, Analytical Characterization, eAMDE, Formulation, Sub-chronic MTD and in vivo PK of ML329 Prodrugs.” The project aims to produce and assess two prodrugs and thereby lay the foundation for developing therapeutic agents for certain types of cancers, such as melanoma and lung cancers. Schoenen will collaborate with Hageman, as well as Harvard Medical School faculty members Rizwan Haq, assistant professor, and David Fisher, professor. 

Jingxin WangJingxin Wang, assistant professor of medicinal chemistry, received an award to conduct a “Mechanistic Study of RNA Splicing Modulation by Small Molecules.”  He will collaborate with Yinglong Miao, assistant professor of molecular biosciences, and Scott Lovell, director of KU’s Protein Structure Laboratory. The project will study modulation of RNA splicing, a promising approach to developing drugs to treat Parkinson’s disease, viral infections and cancer.

The J.R. and Inez Jay Research Fund was established in 1977 through an estate gift to KU Endowment from Inez Jay. Her late husband, John Jay, was a pharmacist in Wichita.

The purpose of the Jay Fund is to stimulate collaborative, interdisciplinary, biomedical research activities in pursuit of large external grants such as multi-investigator National Institutes of Health project grants, program projects and center grants awarded under the tutelage of the Higuchi Biosciences Center. All biomedical scientists holding principal investigator status at KU are eligible to apply for the awards. Recipients are selected by members of the Higuchi Biosciences Center internal advisory committee.

KU Endowment is the independent, nonprofit organization serving as the official fundraising and fund-management organization for KU. Founded in 1891, KU Endowment was the first foundation of its kind at a U.S. public university.


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