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Posted: August 01, 2001

HEALTH SCIENCE CENTER RESEARCHER RECEIVES WELCH GRANT


FORT WORTH, Texas—Cancer researcher Ronald H. Goldfarb, Ph.D., of the University of North Texas Health Science Center, is the recipient of a renewal grant from The Welch Foundation, one of the nation’s oldest and largest sources of private funding for basic chemistry research.

Dr. Goldfarb serves as professor and chair of the school’s department of molecular biology and immunology. He is also the director of the Institute for Cancer Research at the health science center.

He received a three-year, $150,000 renewal grant for his research project titled “Multiple Chymotryptic-like Domains Within the Multicatalytic Proteasome Complex.” to continue work previously funded by the Welch Foundation since 1998. This study examines components of the proteasome, the multi-enzyme system involved in the destruction and removal of proteins within cells.

“We’ve previously shown that we can induce tumor cells to undergo suicide by inhibiting one type of proteasome chymotrypsin,” said Dr. Goldfarb. “Understanding this process better may eventually lead to the subsequent design of drugs for treatment of various diseases, including cancer.”

Other health science center investigators working on this project include Richard Kitson, Ph.D., research associate professor; Yana Reshetnyak, Ph.D., post-doctoral fellow and doctoral student Min Lu, from the department of molecular biology and immunology.

The goal of the foundation is to encourage Texas chemists to unlock the mysteries of science through basic research, thereby enhancing the welfare of mankind. The Houston-based foundation contributed $22.5 million this year in new and renewal grants to 135 scientists at 27 Texas institutions.

“While major scientific breakthroughs are well publicized, the basic research that underpins those breakthroughs too often goes unnoticed,” said Richard J.V. Johnson, chairman of The Welch Foundation. “There is still much to be done, much to be discovered.”

Dr. Goldfarb has an international reputation in several areas of cancer research, related to invasive tumor cells and natural killer (NK) cells, a type of white blood cell that recognizes and kills tumor cells. He was among the first to identify the crucial role that plasminogen activators play in cancer angiogenesis, invasion, and metastasis. He has also investigated the role of these enzymes, as well as matrix metalloproteinases and the multicatalytic proteasome complex in NK cells. He joined the health science center in 1997 after six years as deputy director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Research Institute, one of the country’s Comprehensive Cancer Centers as designated by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Goldfarb is also a former manager of cancer research and anti-cancer drug development for Pfizer, Inc., and a former staff fellow of the National Cancer Institute of the NIH.

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