Richard D. Cummings Receives Perfect Score on NIH R01 Grant
Richard D. Cummings, PhD, William Patterson Timmie Professor and Chair of the Department of Biochemistry, recently received a perfect score on his NIH R01 grant entitled "Modulation of Inflammatory Responses by Parasitic Helminths," which was a new application. Dr. Cummings says that "our success here arises from my strong collaboration with my co-Investigator Dr. Irma van Die (Vrije University Medical Center in Amsterdam) and the outstanding collaborators in the Emory Glycomics Center, including Drs. David Smith and Jamie Heimburg-Molinaro, as well as some outstanding graduate students in the IMP Program, including Nina Salinger Prasanphanich and Megan Mickum. Our work is aimed at understanding molecular mechanisms by which human infections with parasitic helminths (worms such as Schistosoma mansoni and Trichuris suis) appear to protect against chronic inflammatory diseases. This is poorly understood, but our studies suggest that unique glycan (carbohydrate) structures expressed on the parasite glycoproteins can suppress both disease pathogenesis and inflammatory responses. In the upcoming studies we will explore these glycans at the biochemical and molecular levels, and their recognition by antigen-presenting cells, such as dendritic cells and macrophages, and probe the biological consequences of these interactions in animal models. Elucidation of these molecular mechanisms offers exciting possibilities to develop immune therapies and glycan-based drugs for inflammatory disorders in patients."