Please join the Pharmacology department in congratulating one of our graduate and MSTP students, Catherine Doyle (student in Bimal Desai’s Lab) for being one of two students who won this year’s Whitfield Randolph Scholarship. The Whitfield Randolph Scholarship was established in 1986 by Randolph Whitfield of Atlanta, Georgia. The award was established in memory of Mr. Whitfield’s parents, James Bryan Whitfield and Margaret Hayward Randolph. Dr. Randolph Whitfield, a MacArthur Foundation Fellow, received his medical and graduate degrees from the University in 1965 under a similar dual degree program. Further, it is Mr. Whitfield’s preference that recipients be enrolled in the Medical School doing research on the human nervous system. This year, the two awardees will share the $5,000 prize.
Summary of Catherine’s project
Macrophages are innate immune cells that are critical regulators of tissue maintenance. They exist throughout almost all tissue, such as microglia in the brain, Kupffer cells in the liver, and Langerhans cells in the skin. One method by which macrophages maintain tissue health is by removing dying cells from healthy tissue via a specialized form of phagocytosis called efferocytosis. If efferocytosis is not maintained, unregulated tissue inflammation may occur. This is most notable in diseases such as Alzheimer’s Disease, where cell debris accumulates and induces inflammation in the brain. Our lab has identified TRPM7, an intracellular ion channel, as a crucial regulator of efficient efferocytosis. My project focuses on understanding the localization and function of TRPM7 during this process. We have found that in macrophages, TRPM7 localizes to dense compartments similar to that of vesicles derived from the recycling endosome. We hope that by understanding how proteins such as ion channels regulate efferocytosis that we may be able to identify unique druggable targets for treating tissue inflammation and destruction in a variety of degenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s Disease.
Way to go, Catherine! Keep up the outstanding work! Pharm is very proud of you!