Putnam Research Fellowship

2021 Putnam Fellow: Jade M. Katinas

Jade M. Katinas is a fifth-year graduate student in Associate Professor Charles Dann’s lab. The Dann lab uses biophysical methods and protein crystallography with X-ray diffraction to evaluate and improve small molecule inhibitors of enzymes in the one-carbon (1C) metabolic pathway, a pathway important for cancer cell proliferation. Jade’s work focuses on inhibition of serine hydroxymethyltransferase (SHMT) 2, a mitochondrial enzyme that cancer cells are heavily dependent upon for proliferation. Inhibition of this enzyme has been shown to be especially effective in killing rapidly replicating cancers such as pancreatic cancer. In collaboration with the Gangjee lab at Dusquesne University and the Matherly lab at the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute, Jade has determined the potency of small molecule inhibitors of SHMT2 and determined protein crystal structures with the inhibitors present, providing additional insight into chemical characteristics important for inhibition. The Putnam Fellowship will allow her to characterize structure-based variants of SHMT2 with a series of our potential drug lead molecules to better understand protein:inhibitor interactions and thereby advance the development of novel therapeutics targeting aggressive cancers.