Donors Make a Difference: Pushkarni Suresh, Recipient of the prestigious Canderel Graduate Studentship award

Q&A with Pushkarni, GCI trainee in the lab of Prof. Jerry Pelletier, who recently received the Canderel Graduate Studentship award.

Describe your research in a few lines

My research is focused on understanding the regulation of eukaryotic initiation factor (eIF) 4F and the mechanism by which small molecules such as rocaglates inhibit protein synthesis.

Translation is primarily controlled at the initiation phase, specifically the mRNA-ribosome recruitment step, catalyzed by the heterotrimeric eIF4F complex (consisting of the RNA helicase eIF4A, the cap-binding protein eIF4E, and the scaffolding protein eIF4G).

Dysregulation of this activity, as caused by activation of mTOR and MAPK pathways, promotes tumor development and enables them to quickly adapt to stress, activate metastatic programs, and ultimately acquire resistance to therapeutic interventions.

How does your research help cancer patients, and who does it help?

The current knowledge is limited to only one of several possible eIF4F isoforms and their role in protein synthesis.

My research will provide insight into the principles governing efficient mRNA recruitment by different eIF4F complexes during translation initiation – and thus into the oncogenic mRNA repertoire whose translation is regulated by the different eIF4F complexes.

This would further allow us to better understand how to target this process with small molecules for developing anti-cancer therapeutics.

How has the studentship made a difference in your life?

I am delighted and honored to be a recipient of the prestigious 2022 Canderel Graduate Studentship award. As an international student from India, there are limited funding opportunities, and the award has helped focus my efforts on research by partly funding my graduate studies and easing the financial burden.

Receiving this award has strengthened my morale and inspired me to better understand my purpose as a growing scientist in achieving a cancer-free community.

This generous award by Defi Canderel has not only been an encouragement in continuing my graduate studies, but also a motivation to actively partake in student-led initiatives to educate the public and raise funds to help advance cancer research.

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