Rachelle Gaudet has been selected to receive a Klingenstein Fellowship Award in the Neurosciences for 2007 for her project, “Structural biology of temperature sensing by the TRPM8 channel”. Gaudet, Associate Professor in MCB, will received $150,000 over a three-year period beginning July 1. TRPM8 is an ion channel that is gated open by cool temperatures and cool-tasting compounds like menthol. The project goal is to determine the TRPM8 structure and activation mechanisms through x-ray crystallography and complementary mutagenesis and electrophysiology experiments.
Many neurological diseases are channelopathies, i.e., diseases resulting from the malfunction of ion channels, including several forms of epilepsy. This made the project especially suitable for this Fellowship. The Klingenstein Fellowship Awards, from the Esther A. and Joseph Klingenstein Fund, Inc., were created “to support, in the early stages of their careers, young investigators in basic or clinical research that may lead to a better understanding of epilepsy.” No more than ten Fellowships are awarded each year.
Specifically, the program focuses on areas within the neurosciences with a recognition of the “necessity to encourage a variety of new approaches”. In Gaudet’s project, the three-dimensional structure of ion channels in different functional states will provide new insights into the relationships between their structures, functions and mechanisms of action. Gaudet remarks: “This understanding of the molecular mechanisms of ion channel regulation and gating is crucial to the development of therapies for many neurological diseases.”
Gaudet expressed her gratitude and appreciation for the Award: “The neuroscience community has been very supportive of our efforts to determine structures of TRP channels, and it is an honor to receive financial support through a Klingenstein Fellowship. I’m really excited about this project on TRPM8 because we have already made great progress, and this new funding with few restrictions will allow us to really push it forward.”