Megan Matthews Receives NIDA Avenir Award
Megan Matthews, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, has been awarded a 2020 Avenir Award in Genetics and Epigenetics of Substance Abuse from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). These awards exemplify NIDA’s commitment to supporting researchers who represent the future of addiction science. Awardees receive up to $300,000 per year for five years to support their projects.
Matthews says of her project, MAOI-Inspired Activity Probes to Translate Epigenetics and Genetics into Drugs, “Tools to identify genetic and epigenetic variation provide powerful insight into the molecular processes that cause addiction and other diseases of the central nervous system (CNS). However, translating genetic- and epigenetic-level insights into therapies that treat substance abuse remains a major challenge.” Her research group is exploiting the chemistry of pharmacophores found in psychoactive drugs to study the impact of genetic variants and epigenetic modifications in addiction. “We expect that by measuring changes in protein activity in mouse models of chronic drug exposure using electronic nicotine delivery systems, we will identify novel targets for developing therapeutics to treat addiction and other psychiatric disorders,” she explains.
Research in the Matthews group unites enzymology and chemical biology to develop novel chemical proteomics technologies for the discovery of enzyme cofactors and regulatory post-translational modifications that cannot readily be predicted by gene or protein sequence. Matthews is a coauthor of over 20 papers and of a chapter in 2-Oxoglutarate-Dependent Oxygenases (RSC Metallobiology).