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Anton A. Komar Receives Two NIH R01 Grants

Research will enhance understanding of protein folding and protein synthesis

Dr. Anton A. Komar, director of the Center for Gene Regulation in Health and Disease (GRHD) at Cleveland State University, has been awarded simultaneous R01 research grants by the National Institutes of Health. The multi-year grants, for $1.5 million and $1.2 million respectively, will expand understanding of how protein folding impacts genetic development and how protein synthesis affects physiological and pathophysiological processes in mammals.

“The R01 grant is one of the most prestigious awards American researchers can receive,” notes Jerzy Sawicki, vice president for research at CSU. “This recognition for Dr. Komar highlights the tremendous quality of the research he produces as well as the national reputation GRHD has earned as one of America’s top genetics research centers.”

“I am honored to receive this recognition from NIH, and want to partiucularly recognize all of the students, technicians, post doctoral fellows and collaborators who have contributed to my research over the years,” Komar adds. “It is my hope that this work will help improve understanding of how protein folding and synthesis impact genetic development, while continuing to offer tremendous Engaged Learning opportunities for CSU students.”

The NIH’s National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute awarded Komar a $1.5 million grant for his research on the effects of codon usage on protein folding. The proposed research will investigate how different codon optimization strategies affect the expression, folding and immunogenicity of the protein Blood Coagulation Factor IX. Errors in this process have been identified as possible causes of a number of genetic diseases. The research involves collaboration with Dr. Chava Kimchi-Sarfaty from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

In addition, The National Institute of General Medical Sciences at NIH has awarded Komar $1.2 million to further understanding of how protein synthesis, a key component of gene expression, impacts disease development. The project will specifically investigate the potential connection between the protein Eukaryotic Initiation Factor 2A (eIF2A) and metabolic syndrome, a broad category of illnesses that includes obesity, hypertension, and diabetes. Collaborators include Drs. William C. Merrick, David Buchner and Maria Hatzoglou at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Dr. William M. Baldwin of the Lerner Research Institute at the Cleveland Clinic and fellow CSU faculty members Drs. Roman Kondratov and Barsanjit Mazumder.

Since its inception in 2008, the Center for Gene Regulation in Health and Disease has made major contributions to the development of improved treatments of a host of diseases, from brain cancer to heart disease to sleeping sickness. The Center has received over $35 million in external funding from leading national and international funding agencies. In the past 11 years, research conducted at the Center has been published in more than 270 journal articles, including prestigious publications in journals such as Science, Nature and Cell. These papers have received more than 5,500 citations from other medical researchers in the U.S. and around the world.