Integrated Program in Biochemistry (IPiB) faculty member Jon Audhya was awarded The Ride Scholarship on Jan. 18, 2020 at the Wisconsin Hockey’s 4th Annual Face-off Against Cancer game for his exemplary discoveries in 2019. This award will help fund Audhya’s further studies of metastatic cancers.
Audhya’s lab focuses on membrane biology and cell migration and their roles in numerous diseases such as cancer. Metastatic cancers, which are responsible for an estimated 90 percent of cancer deaths, occur when cancer cells migrate from the primary tumor to other parts of the body and form additional tumors.
He and collaborator Beth Weaver in the Department of Cell and Regenerative Biology have focused on a family of proteins called integrins, which scientists have found to play a critical role during cell migration. The Audhya lab hypothesizes that regulators of integrin transport in cells may be ideal targets for the treatment of metastatic cancers. Importantly, the Weaver and Audhya labs have jointly identified a new factor that plays an important role in integrin trafficking.
Understanding the functions of these integrins and how they are targeted in cells could lead to new therapies. With funding from The Ride, they aim to define regulatory mechanisms that control integrin trafficking with the goal of developing it as a target for treating metastatic cancers.
“This kind of seed money is so valuable,” says Audhya, a professor of biomolecular chemistry and associate dean for basic research at the UW–Madison School of Medicine and Public Health. “Our studies of membrane trafficking in the context of cancer metastasis are rather unique, and it can be hard to identify the resources necessary to gather the preliminary data necessary to apply for larger grants. The impact of The Ride Scholarship is immeasurable for this stage of our project.”
The Ride was created in 2016 and has generated over $1.2 million toward the University of Wisconsin’s cancer mission. The Ride delivers 100% of all rider-raised funds toward cancer initiatives made possible by the generous support of its sponsors.
“I want to give back and am planning on riding next year and bringing my daughter,” Audhya adds. “On the ride I can talk with her and others about the backstory of this great event and how it impacts exciting cancer research, including the work we do.”