Eileen Kennedy, assistant professor of pharmaceutical and biomedical sciences in the College of Pharmacy, has received a National Cancer Institute Transition Career Development Award from the National Institutes of Health for more than $570,600 over the next three years. Her project will look at specific mechanisms related to breast cancer.
The award is designed to help academic professionals in cancer research transition from the mentored stage of their careers to the independent stage. Investigators must be within the initial two years of their first independent cancer research positions. The award gives them protected time through salary and research support for three years, in order to help them initiate and develop their independently supported cancer research programs.
Additionally, the award helps ensure that a diverse pool of highly trained scientists from under-represented populations are available in adequate numbers and in appropriate research areas to address the nation’s biomedical, behavioral and clinical research needs.
Kennedy joined the pharmacy college in 2010. Her cancer research focuses on studying spatiotemporal regulation of kinases as it relates to cancer. Kinases are enzymes that help regulate signaling processes. They have been implicated in development and disease issues, including cancer.
A-kinase anchoring proteins act as a regulatory mechanism for some kinases, promoting subcellular localization near specific targets. Although AKAP mutations have been linked to cancer, it isn’t clear how these subcellular mislocalizations lead to disease.
Kennedy’s goal is to develop synthetic agents to use as investigative tools. She hopes to disrupt protein-protein interactions mediated by AKAPs in order to uncover specific cell signaling events in breast cancer.