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Terrance Cooper Receives $1.4 Million Grant for Biomedical Research


Terrance Cooper received $1.4 million grant from National Institute of General Medical Sciences

Memphis, Tenn. (August 23, 2012) – Terrance Cooper, PhD, Harriet S. Van Vleet Professor in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Biochemistry at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC), has received a grant totaling $1.4 million from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The award will fund Dr. Cooper and his team’s ongoing biomedical research. At the conclusion of this newly awarded grant, Dr. Cooper will have received 45 years of continuous NIH funding for various research projects.

In this study, Dr. Cooper investigates the Target of Rapamycin Complex I (TorC1), a global cell regulator, which is similar to a commanding officer of cellular activity. Rapamycin-related drugs have a wide variety of real-world applications, from anti-cancer to anti-rejection treatment of organ transplant patients to providing an anti-inflammatory coating on stents inserted into a patient’s chest to alleviate cardiac blockages.

TorC1 receives many signals generated by a cell’s environment, such as high temperature, and too many or too few nutrients. Through response to these signals, TorC1 controls cellular processes like how quickly a cell reproduces itself. Loss of controlled cell reproduction is the central underlying cause of cancer.

These studies are important because the rapamycin family of drugs specifically

cripple TorC1 and abolish its ability to perform many of its regulatory functions.

“A better understanding of how TorC1 achieves its regulation of cellular processes, including cell reproduction, will generate an even greater number of new clinical applications,” Dr. Cooper said. He and his colleagues combine genetics, biochemistry, and cell biology in a multi-faceted attack, aimed at understanding how TorC1 works and what happens when it is inhibited by drugs related to rapamycin.

Established in 1962, the National Institute of General Medical Sciences supports research that increases understanding of life processes and lays the foundation for advances in disease diagnosis, treatment and prevention, and is one of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). NIH is the nation’s medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.

As the flagship statewide academic health system, the mission of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) is to bring the benefits of the health sciences to the achievement and maintenance of human health, with a focus on the citizens of Tennessee and the region, by pursuing an integrated program of education, research, clinical care, and public service. In 2011, UT Health Science Center celebrated its centennial: 100 years advancing the future of health care. Offering a broad range of postgraduate training opportunities, the main UTHSC campus is located in Memphis and includes six colleges: Allied Health Sciences, Dentistry, Graduate Health Sciences, Medicine, Nursing and Pharmacy. The UTHSC campus in Knoxville includes a College of Medicine, College of Pharmacy, and an Allied Health Sciences unit. In addition, the UTHSC Chattanooga campus includes a College of Medicine and an Allied Health Sciences unit. Since its founding in 1911, UTHSC has educated and trained more than 53,000 health care professionals on campuses and in health care facilities across the state. For more information, visit www.uthsc.edu.