Debra (Debe) Andreacchi-Roth Receives Witmer Award for Distinguished Service
Wednesday, April 24, 2019
Since Debra Andreacchi-Roth began her career at the University in 1976, she has distinguished herself through her exceptional leadership, organizational skills, and mentorship, most recently in service to the Departments of Pharmacology and Physiology, and Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine.
As senior administrator and research program manager in the Department of Pharmacology and Physiology, Andreacchi-Roth promotes a goal-driven environment, fosters professional relationships across various departments, serves key institutional committees and special interest groups, and “works tirelessly to create a friendly and welcoming work environment that promotes teamwork, ICARE values, and commitment to a common purpose,” wrote Robert Dirksen, the Lewis Pratt Ross Professor and Chair of the Department of Pharmacology and Physiology, in a letter of support. Lori White, an administrator in the department and member of the nominating team, said “I consider myself very fortunate to be under her leadership the past 27 years.”
In 1996, Andreacchi-Roth orchestrated the merger of the pharmacology and physiology departments, combining two administrative offices, their resources, and workflows into a new and successful administrative structure. She initiated the Sponsored Research Business Center under the Department of Pharmacology and Physiology in 2001, to assume pre- and post-award management of research awards for the Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine—a seamless transition due to her strong organizational and leadership skills.
In her current role, Andreacchi-Roth oversees the fiscal and operational activities in the Department of Pharmacology and Physiology and is responsible for all proposal submissions and grant post-award activities for the department and the business center. She is widely recognized for treating all researchers with the same level of dedication, energy, and skill.
“Debe is the single most important person providing support to the funded investigators in our department,” wrote Laurent Glance, a professor and vice chair for research in the Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine and professor in Public Health Sciences, in a letter of support. “She is the most hardworking and dedicated administrator I have ever worked with.”Read More: Debra (Debe) Andreacchi-Roth Receives Witmer Award for Distinguished Service
John Lueck Publishes Study on New RNA Technology in Nature Communications
Thursday, March 28, 2019
Michael Golinkoff (left), one of the founders of Emily’s Entourage; Phil Thomas (middle), cystic fibrosis researcher at UT Southwestern, John Lueck (right), assistant professor of Pharmacology and Physiology at URMC.
There are all sorts of “typos” in our DNA that can lead to disease. One kind of typo – a premature termination codon or PTC – is responsible for 10 to 15 percent all genetic diseases, including cystic fibrosis and Duchenne muscular dystrophy. PTCs lead to the production of short and often deleterious proteins.
A recent paper by John Lueck, Ph.D., assistant professor of Pharmacology and Physiology and Neurology, shows how high-throughput screening may be used to fix these typos and lessen disease severity. Published in Nature Communications, the study found that modifying tRNA (a type of RNA molecule that helps convert messenger RNA or mRNA into protein) can help the cell make a full length protein, even with a PTC in the middle of the gene. With this new technology to modify tRNA, the authors were able to use gene therapy to suppress faulty versions of a gene in skeletal muscle, and instead force the cells to produce a full-length protein.
At the moment, most investigational therapies for inherited diseases are focused on small molecules, which to this point have not been successful. “For many of these diseases, including cystic fibrosis and Duchenne muscular dystrophy, there are no therapies and patients rely on palliative care,” explains Lueck. “Our engineered tRNA platform puts another iron in the fire for development therapeutics and we’re hopeful that the technology can be translated into a viable treatment for patients in the near future.”
While these studies are still in the early stages, Lueck was recently awarded a unique pilot grant from Vertex Pharmaceuticals to continue this work. This work was funded by Emily’s Entourage and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and accomplished with the collaboration of researchers at the Cystic Fibrosis Foundations Therapeutics Lab, the Wistar Institute, University of Iowa, and Integrated DNA Technologies, Inc.
John Lueck Highlighted in Emily’s Entourage
Friday, January 4, 2019
Emily's Entourage (EE) is delighted to learn that John Lueck, PhD was recently given a Vertex CF Research Innovation Award of $750,000 over three years to further his research on nonsense mutations of Cystic Fibrosis (CF). In 2017, through the "Catalyst for a Cure Campaign," EE funded research done by Dr. Lueck, Chris Ahern, PhD, and Paul McCray, MD that focused on using engineered transfer-RNA molecules to genetically repair the W1282X-CFTR nonsense mutation. We are pleased that Dr. Lueck has been given the opportunity to continue this critical groundwork:
“EE’s funding brought me into the field of CF research with the specific focus to develop technology for treatment of W1282X. Through the enriching EE scientific community, we have formed collaborations that have propelled our research into new exciting directions that otherwise would not have been explored. Using our results obtained through EE funding as a foundation, we’re working to develop optimal delivery methods of our engineered tRNA platform to target nonsense mutations within the CFTR gene in human airway epithelium.”
Congratulations, Dr. Lueck, on this incredible award! We’re so grateful for your steadfast commitment to accelerating breakthroughs for nonsense mutations of CF! Thank you for seeing beyond to a better future for everyone with CF!
Emily's Entourage is an innovative 501(c)3 foundation that accelerates research for new treatments and a cure for nonsense mutations of Cystic Fibrosis, a fatal genetic disease afflicting Emily and many others. Named a Champion of Change for President Obama's Precision Medicine Initiative, Emily's Entourage has awarded over $3.4 million in research grants since 2011 and led worldwide efforts to drive high-impact research and drug development.