Meredith Frazier, 2022 DRP Recipient
College of Charleston, Chemistry/ Biochemistry
Structural and Functional Characterization of Viral Ribonucleases
My project aims to uncover new information about the function of important enzymes in coronaviruses and related nidoviruses. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown we need to develop effective treatments for this virus family, since coronaviruses have the capability to cause serious disease in humans. These viruses share a common set of proteins that help them replicate and evade our immune system. Understanding the basics of the structure of these proteins and their function at a detailed level will inform future drug design. We will specifically focus on a group of viral nucleases to build a catalog of their properties.
As a PI at a primarily undergraduate institution, providing enhanced mentoring experiences is my biggest goal. With this project, students will gain experience with cryo-EM, a cutting edge structural biology technique, as well as learn fundamental biochemistry. Additionally, we will be studying viral ribonucleases that have never been structurally and functionally characterized before. Our data will help fill out the larger picture of nidoviral evolution and understand how certain properties of coronavirus nucleases arose.
HOW INBRE FUNDING WILL HELP ACCOMPLISH
This grant will help me start my lab and generate data for future NIH/NSF grants. The DRP award will allow me to train more students during the summer, so they can work independently during the academic year. It will also help me purchase equipment and collection time to bring cryo-EM to the state of SC!
OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM/LAB
During my postdoctoral training, I was introduced to the wonderful sport of curling! Even though we were far from Canada or Scotland, there was a thriving curling club in the area. I started playing on a rec team with people from work and got hooked. Charleston has a curling club as well, so I am excited to meet new curlers and get involved here!