Success in Funding
Dr. Roberta Leonardi’s research program in metabolism is supported by R21 and R35 grants from the NIH. Her research explores regulatory mechanisms controlling levels of co-enzyme A (CoA), via panothenate kinase (biosynthesis) and Nudt enzymes (degradation) and the biological consequences of altered CoA levels. Dr. Leonardi’s R21 funded project is development of an animal model for pantothenate kinase-associate neurodegeneration, a progressive neurological disorder currently without a treatment.
This model will provide insight into mechanisms of pathogenicity and identify potentially novel therapeutic strategies. The R35 funding project is a MIRA award (Maximize Investigator Research Activity award), broadly supporting research activities in an outstanding investigator’s laboratory rather than supporting a single, specific project. This grant supports efforts in the lab to broadly characterize the Nudt enzymes responsible for degradation of CoA and acyl-CoA, including determining biochemical characteristics and the structure of Nudt7 and Nudt19, mechanisms regulating gene expression, and how these tissue specific enzymes, Nudt7 and Nudt19, control carbohydrate and lipid metabolism in the liver and kidney respectively.