Vanja Duric, Ph.D., faculty member in the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology in the College of Medicine was recently awarded a $100,000 Research Starter Grant in Pharmacology/Toxicology from the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America Foundation (PhRMA). Dr. Duric was awarded this funding to investigate the relationship between the inhibition of the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) cascade, a major intracellular signaling pathway that is involved in neuronal survival, and major depressive disorder (MDD). MDD is a psychiatric illness that affects up to 17% of the U.S. population and is associated with functional and structural abnormalities of several brain regions including the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex, key orchestrators of mood regulation and cognitive function. Ultimately, Dr. Duric’s research may contribute to both the identification and development of more effective treatments, diagnostics, and prevention strategies for MDD and other psychiatric disorders that are mechanically based on normalization and stabilization of MAPK signaling.
PhRMA, founded in 1958, lives its mission of encouraging the discovery of new medicines and conducting effective advocacy for public policies by representing and supporting the country’s leading researchers and companies in biopharmaceuticals and technology. Their decision to fund Dr. Duric’s research is a prime example of their commitment to scientific research and medical advancement.
Dr. Duric joined the DMU community as an assistant professor in 2012 and has actively developed his research program, as well as trained numerous students in collaboration with many other researchers in his department. Congratulations to Dr. Duric on this award, and the advancement of his research endeavors.