ASU Chemistry Prof Wins Research Grant
June 28, 2010
The award will fund Osborne’s research project, “Novel Selenocysteine Insertion System for Protein Labeling and Human Selenoprotein Expression.”
“Selenoproteins are a type of protein that contains the special amino acid selenocysteine, which contains the micronutrient selenium,” Osborne said. “Selenium deficiency has been linked to increased cancer risk, decreased thyroid function and neurologic conditions such as Alzheimer’s.”
Osborne will be attempting to make human selenoproteins in bacteria, which could help scientists understand how selenoproteins affect human health.
“Scientists often need large quantities of protein for use in experiments and routinely use lab strains of bacteria as factories to make protein,” she said. “However, producing large quantities of human selenoproteins has been difficult because the special cellular machinery that incorporates selenocysteine into selenoproteins in humans is different than the machinery in bacteria. This grant will fund efforts to create a way to make human selenoproteins in bacteria.”
Osborne will be aided in her research by ASU undergraduate students. Some will be paid full-time summer assistants, while others will work with her throughout the grant period for course credit.
Founded in 1912, the RCSA was the first foundation in the U.S. devoted totally to the advancement of science. It was founded by scientist inventor Frederick Gardner Cottrell with the assistance of Charles Doolittle Walcott, then the secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. The goal of the Cottrell College Science Awards is to foster the professional growth of university science faculty and ensure that undergraduate students have the opportunity to participate in high-quality research.