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Neal Silverman awarded grant from the Mizutani Foundation for Glycoscience

By Sarah Willey

UMass Medical School Communications

March 06, 2015
  Neal Silverman, PhD
  Neal Silverman, PhD

Neal S. Silverman, PhD, professor of medicine, was recently awarded a one-year, $50,000 grant from the Mizutani Foundation for Glycoscience.

Dr. Silverman and colleagues will study how immune cells know when there is a bacterial infection in the body. Previously, it was discovered that the bacterial cell wall is recognized by many immune cells in both insects, such as fruit flies, and humans. Silverman said researchers know that very small fragments of the bacterial cell wall can pass across the cell surface, or plasma membrane, and trigger an enormous inflammatory response.

“We are grateful to the Mitzutani Foundation for Glycoscience for supporting our research to help unlock further mysteries about bacterial infections in the body,” he said. “With this grant, we will be investigating a new protein that we believe is responsible for allowing these bacterial cell wall fragments to get across the cell surface. We discovered this molecule studying fruit fly immunity, but suspect the human version of this protein has very similar function.”