Lu Awarded $2.2 Million NIH Grant

Zhipeng Lu, assistant professor of pharmacology and pharmaceutical sciences at the USC Mann School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, was awarded a four-year, $2.2 million National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant.

The project is entitled “Decoding Global RNP Topologies in Splicing Regulation.”

Research in the Zhipeng Lu Lab at USC Mann is focused on developing and applying novel technologies to understand the structures and functions of RNA molecules in basic cellular processes, with the ultimate goal of treating human diseases, including genetic disorders, cancers and viral infections.

“Despite extensive efforts in the past few decades, molecularly targeted therapies have not been possible for most human diseases,” Lu explains. “While most previous studies narrowly focused on proteins, targeting RNA has emerged as an exciting new direction in drug development.”

“A major challenge in this field is the lack of understanding of disease-related RNA structures in cells. In this project, we invent new chemical and computational methods to solve RNA structures in cells, determine their functions in human iPS models, and test the potential of targeting these RNA structures to perturb neurodevelopment, and treat neurological diseases. Our new approach seeks to identify the “Achilles heels” of disease-related RNA molecules, opening up new opportunities in targeted therapeutics.”