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TWU Home > Marketing & Communication > News Releases

Two TWU Chancellor’s Research Fellows receive Advanced Research Program funding from THECB



DENTON — Two Texas Woman’s University Chancellor’s Research Fellows have been selected to receive funding under the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board’s Advanced Research Program for their research into developing more effective anticancer drugs.

Dr. Michael Bergel, assistant professor of biology, and Dr. James Johnson, professor of chemistry, were awarded $100,000 for their research project titled “Synthesis of New Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors and Analysis of their Antiproliferative Capacities.” Dr. Johnson and Dr. Bergel are both 2005-2006 and 2006-2007 TWU Chancellor’s Research Fellows, with Dr. Johnson serving as a mentor to Dr. Bergel.

Their research project was one of only 88 projects that received funding from the Coordinating Board, out of 454 submitted proposals.

“The objective of our research project is to develop new anticancer drugs that will selectively inhibit and kill malignant cells without killing healthy cells,” Dr. Johnson said.

The drugs that Dr. Bergel and Dr. Johnson will study belong to a newly explored type of compounds named histone deacetylase inhibitors. Histone deacetylases are major regulators of the transcription process — the process of constructing a messenger RNA molecule using a DNA molecule as a template, resulting in the transfer of genetic information to the messenger RNA. Since many of the histone deacetylase inhibitors have a low efficiency and can cause severe side effects, Dr. Bergel and Dr. Johnson will synthesize a new series of compounds that includes modifications of known inhibitors.

Dr. Johnson will synthesize the new compounds, while Dr. Bergel will analyze their effectiveness on isolated cancer cells.

“We are at the very beginning of this research, which involves testing the new compounds’ effectiveness on cancer cells in the lab,” Dr. Bergel said. “If this proves successful, we can then move on to expanded lab trials and eventually to clinical trials.”

The Advanced Research Program, administered by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, was created by the Texas Legislature in 1987 as a competitive, peer-reviewed grants program to fund scientific and engineering research projects of faculty members at Texas higher education institutions. The program supports research designed to attract and retain the best students and researchers and help provide the knowledge base needed for innovation. For more information, visit www.arpatp.com.

The TWU Chancellor’s Research Fellows program was started in 2002 and pairs faculty who have strong potential for gaining external research funding with mentors who have been successful at obtaining funds from federal agencies or other sources and at publishing their research. For more information, visit www.twu.edu/research.


For Further Information Contact:

Amanda McKeen Simpson
Director of News and Information
Tel: (940) 898-3456
e-mail: asimpson1@twu.edu

Page last updated January 22, 2009

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