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FWF Grant for Rushad Pavri to study aspects of gene regulation

17 Dec 2018

IMP Group Leader Rushad Pavri has secured a stand-alone grant by the Austrian Science Fund FWF. The grant is worth 398,000 Euro and will support his research project “The role of SPT5 in enhancer-mediated gene regulation”. 

All biological species are fundamentally derived from the genetic information encoded in their DNA. The products of gene expression, either proteins or RNA, form the structural and chemical basis for all cellular activities, such as growth of tissues and organs, the immune response to foreign pathogens and development. To accomplish this, gene expression must be tightly regulated to ensure that the right genes are expressed at the right time and at the desired level of expression. 

Rushad Pavri’s project deals with the role of unique DNA sequences called enhancers. Enhancers modulate the timing and levels of gene expression during organismal development, response to stimuli and immunity, and are therefore a major focus of research in gene regulation. Enhancers can function at large distances from their target genes, and they accomplish this by making physical contacts with their targets. Given the diversity and complexity of enhancer sequences in the genome, there remain many open questions about how enhancers function at the molecular level. In particular, a major goal in gene regulation research is to identify and characterise the proteins and RNAs that are associated with different classes of enhancers and which regulate their activity. In this regard, the project aims to address how a specific protein, Spt5, regulates gene expression by controlling the activity of enhancers. Using state-of-the-art molecular biology and computational tools, the Pavri lab aims to identify which enhancers are regulated by Spt5 and determine their functional properties. The goal is to understand how Spt5 regulates enhancer function and what makes some enhancers more sensitive to Spt5 than others. 

“Errors in gene regulation lead to numerous diseases and pathological abnormalities including autoimmune, neurological and developmental disorders, and cancer”, explains Rushad Pavri. “Therefore, from both clinical and biological perspectives, it is of great importance to know in detail how genes are regulated. We expect that our studies will be a step forward in our understanding of enhancer biology and gene regulation generally.”

More about the Pavri Lab

Lab webpages:

About Rushad Pavri

Rushad Pavri studied biochemistry at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and obtained his PhD in 2006. For his postdoctoral studies, he joined the laboratory of Michel C. Nussenzweig at Rockefeller University in New York, where he subsequently became Research Associate. Since 2013, Pavri is a Group Leader at the IMP Vienna.

About the FWF 

The Austrian Science Fund (FWF) is Austria's central funding organization for basic research. Stand-alone grants are allocated to fund individual research in the area of non-profit oriented basic research. They are assigned solely on the basis of their high quality, assessed by international referees on a competitive basis. The current approval rate for stand-alone projects is 25.8%