Congratulations to Dr. Robinson, a Recipient of the PITCH Promising Project Award for Antibiotic Development

Victoria Robinson, Ph.D., an associate professor in UConn’s Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, has received a promising project award from the UConn/Yale PITCH program to study a novel way of inhibiting bacterial activity and survival in hosts.

Robinson and her team will study the role of the prokaryotic translational GTPase BipA, a protein responsible for controlling numerous cellular processes, mobility and adaptive stress responses in bacterial cells, which all make it essential to bacterial survival.

In stressful or fluctuating environments, BipA binds to a different ribosomal species than it would under normal, favorable growth conditions. This ability to form distinct ribosomal complexes enables bacteria to respond quickly to environmental conditions. Without BipA, bacteria adapt poorly to changed surroundings, thereby decreasing their overall fitness.

Little is known about how this protein functions in bacteria.  Any insights gathered about BipA could lead to the development of novel antibiotics, and currently is an unmet clinical need in the face of bacteria that continue to become increasingly resistant to existing drugs over time.

Robinson and her team are completing this project with support from the Program in Innovative Therapeutics for Connecticut’s Health (PITCH), a collaboration between Yale University and UConn, that supports the development of novel treatments for diseases. The end goal is to help researchers commercialize their products through the creation of new Connecticut-based biopharma companies that can address unmet medical needs in the population. The grant will help Robinson advance her research and apply for potential future PITCH support through access to Yale’s resources for drug development, screening and synthetic chemistry to aid her in the development of this treatment.

Robinson received her Ph.D. from the University of Iowa. The goal of her research is to use genetic, biochemical and structural methodologies to study novel families of bacterial GTPases, which have potential as targets for antimicrobial development.

Article from Anna Zarra Aldrich (CLAS ’18), Office of the Vice President for Research.