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Professor Receives WW Smith Charitable Fund Award for the Second Time

By Nicole Carrera

Published on January 12, 2021

Zhihong Wang, PhDAssociate Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry Zhihong Wang, PhD, has been awarded over $122,000 from the WW Smith Charitable Trust to fund her project entitled “Development of Novel Allosteric Inhibitors Targeting the MAPK Signaling Pathway in Lung Cancer”.

Dr. Wang’s research focuses on BRAF, a frequently mutated kinase in human cancers. Dr. Wang is specifically looking at lung cancer with this study, as it is the leading cause of cancer death in men and women.

While current drug therapies that target BRAF have run into resistance and side effects, Dr. Wang’s team is searching for alternative solutions. “Led by this rationale, our research group has successfully identified a novel BRAF inhibitor that inhibits the BRAF protein more selectively and potently.” Dr. Wang explains. “This proposed study will focus on improving the bioavailability and efficacy of this inhibitor and will test the newly developed inhibitors in lung cancer cells. The goal is to enable new treatments that target the BRAF protein in lung cancer cells with minimal side effects.”

This is the second time that this research group has been awarded the competitive WW Smith Charitable Trust award. Dr. Wang credits their success to the creativity and hard work of all involved on the team, specifically noting the help of Professor Zhijun Li, PhD, and Amber Gunderwala, PhD’21 (Biochemistry).

Categories: News, Misher College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Faculty, Grant