University of Chicago Big Ideas Generator


Big Question: Understanding how extracellular adhesion couples to intracellular signaling

University of Chicago Big Questions

Principal Investigator: Demet Arac-Ozkan, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Funding Type: Seed

Focus Area: Complexity

Big Idea: Disease often takes a visible external toll on humans but there is often intricate internal damage occurring, as well.  Cellular mechanisms that are crucial for development and function can also be manipulated and disrupted due to disease.  One such case involves the communication system of cells in multicellular organisms.  These cells communicate through a complex combination of cellular adhesion and cellular signaling, but the adhesion proteins that are connected to this phenomenon have also been linked to both brain function and disease.  The exact structure and regulatory mechanisms of these proteins are not well known, but may be the key to both disease control and a normal functioning brain.  Initial studies from this proposal by Demet Arac-Ozkan will endeavor to elucidate the structure of these receptors.  Clarity into the structure of these proteins will be key to understanding the functionality, thus providing the framework for a more precise understanding of the mechanism by which the disease attacks.  These findings can then lead to development of new drugs for both currently known diseases that act by manipulating these areas, such as certain brain diseases, as well as provide insights into methods of protection against a wide array of other diseases with similar disruption mechanisms. 

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