Kendra awarded prestigious NIH research award

UT Southwestern Press release:

Newswise — DALLAS – Oct. 2, 2018 – Two UT Southwestern faculty members have been awarded prestigious National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director’s New Innovator Awards for high-risk, high-reward research.

Dr. Kendra Frederick, Assistant Professor of Biophysics, and Dr. Prashant Mishra, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and in the Children’s Medical Center Research Institute at UT Southwestern (CRI), will each receive $1.5 million as award recipients. Established in 2007, the NIH program supports unusually innovative research by early career investigators.

Dr. Frederick uses nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy to study protein structure to better understand diseases like Alzheimer’s. Dr. Mishra develops mouse models to study mutations in mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) in hopes of discovering new treatments for diseases that currently have limited therapeutic options.

“I am honored to receive this award that will support our laboratory’s efforts to apply cutting-edge physical chemistry instrumentation to biological systems and problems, which might not normally be funded by traditional grant mechanisms,” said Dr. Frederick, who has additional appointments in UT Southwestern’s Center for Alzheimer’s and Neurodegenerative Diseases and the Cecil H. and Ida Green Comprehensive Center for Molecular, Computational, and Systems Biology.

“We are taking advantage of new technology for NMR spectroscopy to determine protein structures inside of living cells and organisms,” she said. “This is particularly important to do for proteins that can take on different structures in healthy cells versus diseased cells. This work could help us to better understand neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.”

Dr. Frederick joined UT Southwestern in the Endowed Scholars Class of 2015-2019 as a Lupe Murchison Foundation Scholar in Medical Research following postdoctoral work at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She graduated with honors from the University of Michigan in biochemistry and French language and literature and then earned the equivalent of a master’s degree in protein structure, function, and engineering from the University of Paris-Sud. She earned her Ph.D. in biochemistry and molecular biophysics from the University of Pennsylvania.

“Dr. Frederick is leading the charge into the next frontier of structural biology – understanding molecular structure and interactions at atomic resolution inside cells,” said Dr. Michael Rosen, Professor and Chair of Biophysics and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Investigator. “With her new NMR technology, she will be able to elucidate how protein molecules assemble into fibers, in both healthy and diseased cells, at a level of detail unattainable previously. The potential for discovery is extremely high, and Dr. Frederick is richly deserving of the title ‘New Innovator’ through this prestigious award from the NIH.”

Dr. Mishra’s research focuses on mutations in mtDNA, which are found in about 1 in every 5,000 people. Diseases that arise from these mutations are often untreatable, and research into this area is limited by the lack of reliable animal models – something Dr. Mishra hopes to change. His lab is generating mouse models that contain the same genetics and physiology seen in human patients. These models will reveal how the body responds to a mitochondrial mutation and may reveal new treatments for these diseases.

“I’m incredibly grateful for the support from the NIH Director’s New Innovator Award,” said Dr. Mishra, also a member of the Green Center for Systems Biology. “This award confirms the need for new tools and treatment options for diseases caused by mutations in mitochondrial DNA, which are both understudied and usually untreatable.”

“Many of the children diagnosed by CRI’s Genetic and Metabolic Disease Program have mutations in their mitochondrial DNA that cause debilitating diseases,” said Dr. Sean Morrison, Director of the CRI, Professor of Pediatrics, and an HHMI Investigator.

“We recruited Dr. Mishra because we believe he is one of the most deep-thinking young scientists in the area of mitochondrial biology – someone who could help us understand how mitochondrial mutations cause disease,” added Dr. Morrison, who holds the Kathryne and Gene Bishop Distinguished Chair in Pediatric Research at Children’s Research Institute at UT Southwestern and the Mary McDermott Cook Chair in Pediatric Genetics.

Dr. Mishra received his undergraduate degree in biochemical sciences from Harvard University before earning an M.D. and a Ph.D. in biophysics from UT Southwestern’s dual-degree Medical Scientist Training Program. He joined the UTSW faculty in 2015.

“It is a source of tremendous pride to see our UT Southwestern graduates go on to successful careers in the sciences,” added Dr. Rosen, also a member of the Green Center for Systems Biology who holds the Mar Nell and F. Andrew Bell Distinguished Chair in Biochemistry. “Dr. Mishra did highly innovative work as a Ph.D. student in our Molecular Biophysics Graduate Program. It is a wonderful recognition of him and the program that he is continuing to flourish and receiving recognition for his creativity as an independent investigator.”

The New Innovator awards are among four grant programs for researchers at every career stage that form the NIH Director’s High-Risk, High-Reward series of awards that are supported by the NIH Common Fund. Dr. Frederick’s award number is DP2 NS111236 and Dr. Mishra’s is DP2 ES030449.

Whitney Costello wins the FEBS Journal Poster prize at the 2018 EUROMAR meeting in Nantes, France

Whitney Costello was awarded the FEBS Journal poster prize for her contribution to the 2018 EUROMAR meeting entitled “Digging into the core: studies of the yeast prion protein via DNP-NMR”.  The FEBS journal has a long history of supporting early career scientists and is delighted to recognise their important contributions at this meeting.   Congratulations, Whitney!

Kendra Frederick receives 2018 NSF CAREER award

KENDRA FREDERICK, assistant professor of biophysics, recently received a 2018 National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Award. The award recognizes early career faculty who show equal dedication to research and education within their departments and institutions.

Frederick was recognized for her proposal, Structural biology in cellular environments using high sensitivity NMR, which centers on understanding how cellular environments change the shape of proteins that appear to be unstructured when they are studied in isolation.

The NSF CAREER Award grants faculty members like Frederick five years of financial support to promote balanced approaches to STEM education, focusing on both teaching and research.

Ted Nash Long Life Foundation profiled by the Center Times

Ted Nash Long Life Foundation funds Alzheimer’s research.

(from the Center Times, a publication of the The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Campus Edition, August 2017)

Ted Nash, the son of a railroad company man, grew up in his father’s shadow.  Born in 1917, he worked as a caring boy while a teen, shoveling coal to heat President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s private railroad car while traveling across the U.S. during the 1932 presidential election campaign.

Mr. Nash served in the Army during World War II and later worked for Electro-Motive, a division of General Moters.  He set his sights on becoming a millionaire with the intent to eventually donate his money to make the world a better place.  Before Mr. Nash’s death in 2002, he established a philanthropic foundation with a mission to help increase the life expectancy of the average American citizen.

For 15 years, Ted Nash Long Life Foundation has granted more than $5.6 million to various research institutions, including more than $1.7 million to UT Southwestern Medical Center.  The Foundation’s most recent gift for $200,000 supports scientific study in Alzheimer’s disease under the direction of Dr. Kendra Frederick, Assistant Professor of Biophysics who also holds faculty appointments in the Center for Alzheimer’s and Neurodegenerative Diseases and in the Cecil H. and Ida Green Comprehensive Center for Molecular, Computational and Systems Biology.

Dr. Frederick is studying atomic structures using a superconducting magnet, a new technology that allows her to see inside live cells and potentially unlock the mysteries of certain diseases.  UT. Southwestern in the fourth university in the nation to acquire this magnet that has transformed the study of atoms and made Dr. Frederick’s work possible.

UTSW Center Times covers Kendra’s Searle Scholar award.

http://www.utsouthwestern.edu/newsroom/articles/year-2017/searle-grant-funds-biophysics-research.html

By Deborah Wormser

Kendra_Frederick

Dr. Kendra Frederick

Dr. Kendra Frederick, Assistant Professor of Biophysics at UT Southwestern, has been recognized as a 2017 Searle Scholar and awarded a three-year, $300,000 grant to support her research on proteins implicated in neurodegenerative diseases.

Dr. Frederick, who is studying the structure determination of amyloid proteins inside living cells, was one of 15 investigators selected from 196 applications nationwide. The Searle Scholars Program supports high-risk, high-reward scientific research.

“The Searle Scholars Program recognizes some of the most promising young biomedical scientists in the country. I am honored to be one of the researchers selected for such a distinction,” said Dr. Frederick, who has additional appointments in the Center for Alzheimer’s and Neurodegenerative Diseases and the Cecil H. and Ida Green Comprehensive Center for Molecular, Computational, and Systems Biology.

Her expertise is in how a new technology for solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy – called dynamic nuclear polarization – can be applied to biological samples for structural studies of proteins in cells. She is first author on an article in Cellthat describes this approach and includes the finding that cellular environments can influence protein structure.

“Kendra is applying cutting-edge NMR technologies, available in only a handful of laboratories worldwide, to a critical problem in biology and human health – how proteins assemble into amyloid fibers,” said Dr. Michael Rosen, Chair of Biophysics, Professor of Biochemistry, and a member of the Green Center. “Her work will help us to better understand normal cell function, and how those processes go awry in neurodegenerative diseases and cancer.”

Using NMR spectroscopy, protein chemistry, and yeast genetics, Dr. Frederick aims to determine the structures, dynamics, and energetics of protein folding in complex physiological environments such as those involved in the initiation and progression of human disease.

Dr. Frederick joined UT Southwestern in its Endowed Scholars Class of 2015-2019 following postdoctoral work at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She graduated with honors from the University of Michigan in biochemistry and French language and literature and then earned the equivalent of a master’s degree in protein structure, function, and engineering from the University of Paris-Sud.

The Searle Scholars Program is funded through grants from the family trusts to The Chicago Community Trust and administered by Kinship Foundation, the private operating foundation that manages the institutional philanthropy of the Searle family. Dr. Frederick is the 12th faculty member at UT Southwestern to be honored with this award.

Dr. Frederick is a Lupe Murchison Foundation Scholar in Medical Research.

Dr. Rosen, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, holds the Mar Nell and F. Andrew Bell Distinguished Chair in Biochemistry.

Whitney Costello is awarded an NSF EAPSI Fellowship

Congratulations to Whitney Costello (left), a Molecular Biophysics graduate student in Dr. Kendra Frederick’s lab (right) on being selected by the National Science Foundation and approved by the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology to spend seven weeks at Zhejiang University in China on a new collaborative research project as part of the East Asia and Pacific Summer Institutes, or EAPSI.

Kendra named Searle Scholar

The Searle Scholars program has named fifteen scientists as Searle Scholars for 2017. Each researcher is awarded $300,000 in flexible funding to support his or her work over the next three years.

The Searle Scholars Program makes grants to selected universities and research centers to support the independent research of exceptional young faculty in the biomedical sciences and chemistry who have recently been appointed as assistant professors on a tenure-track appointment. The Program’s Scientific Director appoints an Advisory Board of eminent scientists who choose the Scholars based on rigorous standards aimed at finding the most creative talent interested in pursuing an academic research career. This year, 196 applications were considered from nominations by 143 universities and research institutions.

“The new class of Searle Scholars is truly outstanding. Our Scientific Advisory Board members remarked that the selection process this year was the most difficult ever because there were so many meritorious applicants,” said Dr. Doug Fambrough, Scientific Director. “The new Scholars are pursuing fundamental research in chemistry and the biomedical sciences—from determining molecular structures to working out the neuronal circuitry underlying various behaviors. All of these Scholars have chosen to take on risky projects that, if successful, will have great impact upon their fields and, in many cases, contribute directly to the betterment of human health.”

Seventy Searle Scholars have been inducted into the National Academy of Sciences. Sixteen Scholars have been recognized with a MacArthur Fellowship, known as the “genius grant.” And a Searle Scholar has been awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry.

Since 1981, 587 scientists have been named Searle Scholars. Including this year, the Program has awarded more than $129 million.

About the Searle Scholars Program 
The Searle Scholars Program supports high risk, high reward research across a broad range of scientific disciplines. Grants are $300,000 for a three-year term with $100,000 payable each year of the grant. Searle Scholars Program is funded through grants from the family trusts to The Chicago Community Trust and administered by Kinship Foundation, the private operating foundation that manages the institutional philanthropy of the Searle Family. For more information about the Searle Scholars Program visit www.searlescholars.net.