CBR Researcher Receives Prestigious MSFHR Trainee Award

By Erika Siren, PhD Student, Kizhakkedathu Lab, CBR

Dr. Srinivas Abbina, a postdoctoral fellow in the Kizhakkedathu research group, has been awarded the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research Trainee Award. Dr. Abbina was among 32 postdoctoral researchers selected from a highly competitive applicant pool in Biomedical, Clinical, and Population Health research across British Columbia.

The Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research (MSFHR) was established in memoriam of Nobel Laureate Dr. Michael Smith as an endeavor to encourage the development of innovative approaches to health research in British Columbia. Since its establishment in 2001, the $450 million MSFHR fund has played a significant role in attracting, nurturing, and retaining top scientists in BC and supporting the provinces’ contribution to health research on an international level.

Dr. Srinivas Abbina

Trained as a polymer chemist at the University of North Dakota, Dr. Abbina first came to the Centre for Blood Research in 2015 to study the translational aspects of polymer science. A central theme of the research conducted in the Kizhakkedathu group is the development of biologically inspired synthetic materials and their applications in health research, including cell-based therapeutics, antimicrobial coatings, and drug delivery. Supported by MSFHR funding, Dr. Abbina will employ his expertise in polymer chemistry to design a polymer-based organ-specific iron chelation system for the treatment of transfusion mediated iron overload. Iron chelation therapy (ICT) is an essential intervention for patients experiencing iron overload, however, current ICT strategies are costly, inefficient, and subject to severe side effects. By chemically incorporating biodegradable moieties and organ specific targets into an iron chelating polymer scaffold, it is expected that the safety and efficacy of ICT can be dramatically improved. In collaboration with other researchers in the Kizhakkedathu lab, Dr. Abbina has already shown that the polymer based ‘macro-chelators’ possess unprecedented circulation times in vivo.

CBR alumnus Dr. Dustin King (Strynadka lab), a postdoctoral fellow at Simon Fraser University with Dr. David Vocadlo, was also listed as an award recipient in 2017. He will be using the funding to support research which elucidates the effect of O-GlcNAc modification on protein stability.

Congrats to Srinivas and Dustin!

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