NSF grant awarded for research that supports anti-cancer therapeutics


Credit: University of Akron

Dr. Adam W. Smith, assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry, has won a CAREER award from the National Science Foundation. The title of the award is "Lipid Regulation of Receptor Tyrosine Kinases" and provides $650,000 of funding for research. The project will use advanced fluorescence methods to measure lipid-protein interactions in biological membranes.

The goal is to develop a quantitative chemical model for the interface between plasma membrane lipids and a class of membrane proteins called receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs). RTKs are integral membrane proteins that regulate cell growth and differentiation, and are targeted by a new class of anti-cancer therapeutics that will be greatly improved by this research.

This project also includes development of a 3D-printable, smartphone spectrometer (the SpecPhone) for implementation in university laboratory courses. The low cost and simplicity of the SpecPhone also make it accessible to K-12 students and citizens so that they can engage in real-world science problems. The objectives are to create new curriculum and teacher training workshops for K-12 STEM education, to participate in local Maker Faires, and to develop protocols for a transformative citizen science project in the Lake Erie watershed.


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