December 22, 2020
LA JOLLA—Assistant Professor Dmitry Lyumkis has received a Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER) award from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The CAREER award supports early career scientists who serve as academic role models and lead scientific advances in their organization. Lyumkis will receive almost $1.8 million over four years to examine how some viruses such as HIV hijack and interact with host protein machinery to permanently alter the host genome to sustain infection.
“Dmitry’s work and technological advancements have already led to uncovering atomic-level structural insights into hard-to-visualize molecules,” says Salk President Rusty Gage. “We are delighted that this CAREER award will allow Dmitry to continue that important work, while also providing valuable training to the next generation of scientists.”
Lyumkis applies cutting-edge cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) imaging techniques to visualize and determine three-dimensional structures of the molecular protein assemblies that perform important functions in cells. His work uncovers how these assemblies work, and exposes routes to manipulate them to treat human diseases. This project will reveal the molecular interactions between viral and host proteins that allow for the integration of viral genetic information into the host genome. The resulting structures and biochemical data will provide a framework for understanding how these interactions cause infection and will reveal insights into how this process may be blocked. The findings could lead to new antiviral medications.
Additionally, Lyumkis will provide scientific training to undergraduate and graduate students, as well as an introduction to structural biology and virology to high-school students through local outreach programs to inspire future careers in science.
“I am incredibly excited to have been selected for this award, as it will enable my team to study both viral and host molecular machines and their interactions at the level of the genome,” says Lyumkis, a member of Salk’s Laboratory of Genetics and holder of the Hearst Foundation Developmental Chair. “This direction will establish important foundations for my lab and will have implications for a broad range of human diseases. Additionally, the funding will allow me to pursue numerous outreach endeavors, which I feel is so critical at this time.”
Lyumkis has also received the National Institutes of Health Director’s Early Independence Award and the George Palade Award.
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