Chemistry Graduate Program Director Earns National Science Foundation Grant

Associate Professor Daniel A. Kraut, PhD, awarded $579,508 NSF grant to study proteasome function in cells

Daniel A. Kraut, PhD, director of the graduate program in Chemistry, associate professor of Chemistry

VILLANOVA, Pa. – The National Science Foundation has awarded a $579,508 grant to Daniel A. Kraut, PhD, director of the graduate program in Chemistry, associate professor of Chemistry, and member of the Biochemistry program in Villanova University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The grant supports his project, “RUI: Control of Proteasomal Unfolding Ability by Substrate Ubiquitination.”

The proteasome is a molecular machine inside cells that removes unwanted or unneeded proteins by unfolding them, feeding them into a central chamber, and then chopping them up into small pieces that can be recycled. Proteins destined for destruction are tagged with a chain composed of multiple copies of a small protein called ubiquitin. Dr. Kraut will investigate how ubiquitin chains affect the ability of the proteasome to unfold the attached target protein.  

As a result of its central position within the cell, proteasome activity or inactivity has been implicated in many diseases, including cancer, heart disease, neurodegenerative diseases and aging.

“The proteasome is a central player in many aspects of cellular function, so better understanding of its mechanism—and why some proteins are degraded, and others are spared—will benefit many scientists who study these cellular processes,” said Dr. Kraut.

The project will be carried out in Dr. Kraut’s laboratory at Villanova and will provide research training and experiences for Villanova undergraduate and graduate students. The NSF award will support the project for three years.  

This award from the NSF not only reflects the importance of Dr. Kraut’s research and its potential long-term implications, but also demonstrates Villanova’s success as an academic community that supports the teacher-scholar model and offers outstanding faculty-mentored research opportunities to students on both the undergraduate and graduate levels,” said Adele Lindenmeyr, dean, Villanova University College of Liberal Art and Sciences.

This is the second NSF grant Dr. Kraut has received to support his research at Villanova. The first was in 2015 in the amount of $411,380. Dr. Kraut earned his doctorate in Biochemistry from Stanford University.

About Villanova University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences: Since its founding in 1842, Villanova University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has cultivated knowledge, understanding and intellectual courage for a purposeful life in a challenged and changing world. With 39 majors across the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences, it is the oldest and largest of Villanova’s colleges, serving more than 4,500 undergraduate and graduate students each year. The College is committed to a teacher-scholar model, offering outstanding undergraduate and graduate research opportunities and a rigorous core curriculum that prepares students to become critical thinkers, strong communicators and ethical leaders with a truly global perspective.