February 01, 2017

Jia Cui wins graduate travel award from the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

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jia culFourth-year UAB graduate student Jia Cui has received an American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 2017 Graduate Travel Award to present her work at the ASBMB annual meeting in Chicago, April 22-26. The ASBMB has more than 12,000 members around the world.

The award recognizes the significance of studies developing from Cui’s first-author paper that was published in the journal Cell Death and Differentiation last year. Her research characterizes PTBP1 as a novel post-transcriptional regulator of MCL1, a key controller of programmed cell death or apoptosis. Further, she demonstrates that changes in PTBP1 expression control apoptotic response to antitubulin chemotherapeutics via MCL1 in multiple cancer cell lines. Details of regulation of apoptosis via MCL1, as studied by Cui, can add greater understanding of cancer development, progression and chemoresistance, and may shed light on normal mitochondrial dynamics and normal cellular development, including differentiation of neurons, muscle and cardiomyocytes.

Cui’s mentor in the UAB Graduate Biomedical Sciences Cancer Biology theme is William Placzek, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics. Placzek is the other author with Cui in last year’s paper, “PTBP1 modulation of MCL1 expression regulates cellular apoptosis induced by antitubulin chemotherapeutics.”

Cui grew up near Beijing, attended Peking University and has studied at UAB with the help of a UAB Hughes Med to Grad Fellowship, funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. These fellowships are meant to prepare scientists who will translate laboratory discoveries into new medical treatments and diagnostics.