Peter Cornish, assistant professor of biochemistry and University of Missouri Informatics Institute core faculty, was selected as Pew Scholar in recognition for his recent research project, “Investigation of RNA Unwinding and Ribosomal Frameshifting.”
Cornish’s project focuses on how viruses disrupt the function of ribosomes, large molecules in the body that create proteins and are responsible for many bodily functions. This disruption leads to a process called frameshifting, which means ribosomes read the RNA molecules in a different order than normal and consequently create different proteins that result in viral replication and propagation.
“We hope to understand how frameshifting happens,” Cornish said. “If we gain information on how to target this process we can potentially use the process to inhibit frameshifting and thus inhibit viruses.”
Therefore, understanding how and why frameshifting occurs and how to stop this disruption could lead to a treatment for viruses, such as HIV, and disease, such as cancer. The Pew Scholars program recognized the merit in this research project by honoring Cornish.
The Pew Scholar Award is given to 22 scientists around the country with only one nomination allowed from each University. The award comes with a $240,000 grant awarded over a four-year period to provide “funding to young investigators of outstanding promise in science relevant to the advancement of human health.” Award recipients were announced June 14, 2012.
For more information about the Pew Award, visit http://www.pewtrusts.org/our_work_category.aspx?id=194.