Tom Burris, Ph.D., FAAAS, FAHA, Alumni Chair in Pharmaceutical Education and vice president for research at University of Health Sciences and Pharmacy in St. Louis, has received a $150,000 grant from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis’ Philip and Sima Needleman Center for Autophagy Therapeutics and Research to support research related to the biologic pathway known as autophagy.
Known to play a critical role in maintaining the health of cells, the autophagy pathway is a mechanism through which the body can remove dysfunctional components of cells and recycle parts of them into new or different compounds. When functioning optimally, the autophagy process removes toxic proteins from cells attributed to conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular disease and cancer, making it an emerging target for drug discovery.
“The Needleman Center for Autophagy Therapeutics and Research at Washington University School of Medicine was created to identify and develop drugs that target key parts of the autophagy pathway,” Burris explained. “The grant the Needleman Center has provided to us will be utilized to help us further investigate the connection between Estrogen Related Receptor (ERR) compounds and autophagy within the heart.”
ERRs are orphan nuclear receptors that have been demonstrated to control oxidative metabolism and energy expenditure, and have also demonstrated roles in treating conditions like diabetes and cancer.