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HPU faculty and students recognized for research and innovation

The professors of pharmacy each received the NC Biotech Flash Fellowship for their research

Dr. Robert Coover

Drs. Robert Coover and Aurijit Sarkar, professors at the Fred Wilson School of Pharmacy, both received an NC Biotech Flash Fellowship. Flash grants provide early-stage funding for innovative research ideas that have strong potential for commercial use.

Dr. Coover’s research is titled “Targeting RAC1 in malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors”. In the lab, they combine chemistry and biology to make potential new drugs targeting malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors. These are extremely deadly tumors that are often associated with a condition called neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1). NF1 is a common genetic disease with no cure. The work they are doing will hopefully lead to better options for patients and ultimately longer lives.

“Receiving this grant is a great achievement,” said Coover. “NC Biotech is doing great things for the state of North Carolina by driving innovative growth and improving patient outcomes. I am grateful to my colleagues and to myself to be recognized for our scientific contributions and in particular to the students who have dedicated many hours working in the laboratory. I am extremely invested in the success of students who join my lab, and know that I am at my best when I can position them to learn advanced topics and apply specialized techniques in ways that help them achieve their next career goal.”

HPU Aurijit Sarkar 2
Dr Aurijit Sarkar

Dr. Sarkar’s group aims to design chemicals that will work with penicillins to fight infections. His funded project is titled “Establishing the translational potential of aminopyriimidines as penicillin enhancers against MRSA”. MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, causes life-threatening infections, and antibiotic resistance limits treatment options. That’s why his team is trying to create a solution against MRSA infections.

“Our research program is part of a concerted effort by High Point University faculty to address some serious diseases that remain difficult to treat, despite a century of health care improvements,” Sarkar said. “Drs. Coover, Fahrenholtz and I joined forces to try to cure these infections. This grant was awarded in competition with researchers from research-oriented institutions across the state, demonstrating the importance of our investigation. Additionally, this grant will also support undergraduate researchers, exposing them to cutting-edge research and helping them build their careers.

Sarkar is working with five undergraduate students on this specific research.

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