Buolamwini Awarded NIH Grant

John K. Buolamwini, PhD, professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center College of Pharmacy has received a grant totaling $1,107,890 from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, a subsidiary of the National Institutes of Health. The award will fund Dr. Buolamwini and his research team’s viral disease research efforts. The study titled, “A Targeted Preemptive Approach to Addressing Mitochondrial Toxicity of Nucleoside,” will be conducted over a four-year period.

We are very excited,” said Dr. Buolamwini. “This grant award will enable us to develop a novel targeted pro-drug approach to protecting mitochondria the powerhouses of cells from DNA damaging effects of nucleoside drugs.” A major focus of Dr. Buolamwini’s research is the design, synthesis and evaluation of new molecules as inhibitors or probes of nucleoside transporters. Nucleoside transporters are membrane proteins that mainly carry nucleosides and nucleoside drugs into cells. They play a significant role in the salvage synthesis of DNA and RNA building blocks, in abrogating the tissue protective effects of the physiological nucleoside adenosine and in the successful treatment with antiviral and anticancer nucleoside drugs. Without sufficient expression of nucleoside transporters, cancer cells are resistant to chemotherapy with drugs like gemcitabine used in the treatment of pancreatic cancer. Nucleoside transporters are also beneficial in treating viral diseases such as HIV/AIDS, viral hepatitis, heart disease and stroke. This research has the potential to expand strategies for decreasing the toxicities associated with nucleoside drug therapies.