Associate professor of biochemistry and molecular biology Lance Wells has been named a Lars G. Ljungdahl Distinguished Investigator by the Georgia Research Alliance:
Wells’ research explores how modification of proteins by sugars, a process known as O-glycosylation, affects their biological activity. In particular, the Wells laboratory focuses on two types of O-glycosylation, O-GlcNAc and O-Man, that are involved in human disease processes including Alzheimer’s, diabetes, cancer and muscular dystrophy.
Aberrant glycosylation appears to play a fundamental role in the development and progression of these diseases. Because the process creates specific antigens that can be tracked, it also can serve as a biomarker for detection and as a therapeutic target.
“Currently little is known about the role of aberrant O-GlcNAc modifications to proteins that dysregulate biological processes such as transcription,” said Wells. “The funding will enable us to look at the specific impact of glycosylation on gene regulation as it relates to obesity and diabetes.”
Wells' appointment is part of GRA efforts to recruit and retain talented faculty deemed 'rising starts' in their fields of research. The position is named for Georgia Power Professor of Biotechnology Lars Ljungdahl who, along with his late wife Despy Karlas, has been a longtime benefactor of Franklin College and UGA.
For more news from the Georgia Research Alliance, check out their their blog, GRA Perspectives.