The 2016 Joukowsky Family Foundation Outstanding Dissertation Awards go to Francesca Inglese, Hilary Nicholson, Yumeng Ou, and Bhawani Buswala, as they receive their doctoral degrees from Brown University on May 29. The prizes recognize superior achievements in research by students completing the doctoral degree. This year, the research topics range from minstrel troupes in South Africa to novel ligands, multi-parameter commutators, and the everyday life of untouchables in India.
Supported through the generosity of the Joukowsky Family Foundation, up to four awards are made, with one from each of the four main areas: the humanities and the life, physical and social sciences.
The dissertation by Nicholson, Molecular Pharmacology and Physiology, advances knowledge of sigma-2 receptors, which are present in a variety of cancerous tissues. The work is entitled A Matter of Life and Death: Novel Ligands Mediating Cytotoxic Function and Revealing Metabolically Stimulative Function of the Sigma-2 Receptor in Human Cancer. This research demonstrates that sigma-2 receptors can be used to selectively target cancer cells for cell death without significantly harming non-cancerous cells. Her novel therapeutic agents may require less frequent dosing and could have fewer side effects than traditional chemotherapy.