Recent ACBS Grant Funding Highlights

March 29, 2023

The hard work of ACBS Faculty has been recognized in recent grant funding.

Dr. Frank Duca

The Ability of Glyphosate to Impair Metabolic Homeostasis Via the Gut Microbiome and Metabolites

Funding Agency: National Institute of Allergy Environmental Health Sciences
Funding Amount: $1,838,500
Project Objective: Increased rates of obesity and diabetes parallels the increased pesticide usage in the United States, especially the use of glyphosate, but to date no study has comprehensively examined the impact of glyphosate exposure on the development of obesity and diabetes. The current work will determine if glyphosate impairs metabolic homeostasis, and if this is due to changes in the gut microbiota and bacterially-derived metabolites, like bile acids. These studies will help understand the impact of environmental exposures on host metabolism and could lead to more targeted therapeutic approaches to treat metabolic disease.

Dr. Koenraad Van Doorslaer

Dr. Koenraad Van Doorslaer

The role of asymmetric protein dimethylation during the human papillomavirus lifecycle

Funding Agency: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease
Funding Amount: $1,901,557
Project Objective: Persistent infection with human papillomaviruses (HPVs) is the primary risk factor for cervical cancer development. Yet, the mechanisms that HPVs use to optimize the cellular environment and establish a persistent infection are not understood.  These studies will remove this knowledge gap by providing mechanistic insights into how these viruses establish persistent infections and furthering our understanding of potential therapeutic targets for HPV-cancers.


Interplay of the cGAS/STING Immune Pathway and Oncogenic Papillomaviruses

Funding Agency: American Cancer Society
Funding Amount: $792,000
Project Objective: Human papilloma viruses (HPVs) cause persistent infections that are responsible for an estimated 5% of cancers worldwide.  The mechanisms through which these viruses cause persistent infections are currently unknown.  These studies will establish the role of the anti-viral response pathway known as cGAS/STING on the ability of HPVs to overcome cellular defenses and establish persistent infections that lead to cancer.

Dr. Benjamin Renquist

Dr. Benjamin Renquist

Role of the hepatic GABA shunt in insulin resistance and hyperinsulinemia

Funding Agency: National Institutes of Health
Funding Amount: $1,918,750
Co-Investigator:  Frank Duca, ACBS 
Project Objective: The severity and incidence of type 2 diabetes is positively related to liver fat concentration.  As fat accumulates in the liver, the liver produces and releases more GABA, an inhibitory neurotransmitter.  This project aims to understand how liver GABA production and release, can be manipulated to affect insulin sensitivity.


Pre-clinical tests of novel GABA transaminase inhibitors to treat obesity induced hyperglycemia, hyperinsulinemia, and insulin resistance

Funding Agency: Flinn Foundation
Funding Amount: $100,000
Co-Investigator: May Khanna, New York University
Project Objective: Liver GABA production is catalyzed by GABA transaminase and is positively associated with the severity of insulin resistance and elevations in blood insulin concentration.  GABA transaminase inhibition or knockdown improves insulin sensitivity and lowers serum insulin.  Available GABA transaminase inhibitors were developed to treat epilepsy and cross into the brain resulting in unacceptable side effects for a medication to treat diabetes.  From 14 lead molecules, we aim to optimize novel GABA transaminase inhibitors with improved efficacy and specificity, and limited blood brain barrier penetrance.

Additional Recent ACBS Grants: Apr 1 to June 30, 2022

Sponsor: USDA-NIFA
Title: Development of PCR-based diagnostic assays in support of disease free  attestations of shrimp feed for international export
PI: Arun K. Dhar Co-PI: Hung N. Mai
Project amount: $269,000

Sponsor: USDA-NIFA
Title: Nematicidal and Phytotoxic Efficacy of Photorhabdus Metabolites for Control of Plant Parasites
PI: Ayako Kusakabe
Project amount: $225,000

Sponsor: Camara Nacional de Acuacultura (Ecuador)
Title: Infection with Infectious Hypodermal and Haematopoietic Necrosis Virus (Ihhnv) and Hepatopancreatic Microsporidiosis (Hpm) in the Ecuadorian Shrimp Industry
PI: Luis Fernando Aranguren Caro Co-PI: Hung N. Mai
Project amount: $99,437

Sponsor: University of Arizona, CALES- iViP Program
Title: Engineering a Viral Vaccine Platform to Develop Oral Vaccines for Fish
PI: Arun K. Dhar
Project amount: $89,000