MISSOULA – University of Montana postdoctoral fellow Sascha Stump recently was awarded a three-year National Institutes of Health grant to investigate structural and kinetic properties of the enzyme Ric-8 and its interaction with G proteins.
Dr. Stump works with UM’s Center for Biomolecular Structure and Dynamics. His grant, the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award Individual Postdoctoral Fellowship, is the first of its type in the nation garnered by a CBSD affiliate.
The NIH awards these prestigious grants to “highly promising postdoctoral candidates who have demonstrated potential to become productive, independent investigators in scientific health-related research fields.”
G proteins are a family of molecules involved in cell signaling pathways crucial to development and homeostasis in higher organisms. Stump’s research will provide insight into the mechanism of Ric-8’s function, with the goal of developing atomic-resolution models of Ric-8 interacting with G proteins.
Stump said the project is critical to understanding the role of Ric-8 in regulation of G protein signaling and will significantly impact research in human health and disease by establishing the basis for future therapeutics that target these pathways.
“This grant also will allow me to attend workshops and receive additional training to advance my project and further build the foundation for a productive research career,” he said. “I am excited to learn new techniques, including cryo-electron microscopy, and to collaborate with scientists at the forefront of the structural biology field.”
Dr. Stephen Sprang directs UM’s CBSD center and serves as a mentor to Stump.
“Sascha is a talented young scientist with expertise spanning from medicinal chemistry to biophysics,” Sprang said. “He has the vision and skills to undertake this challenging but very rewarding project he has chosen for his postdoctoral fellowship.”
Stump was born and raised in Kalispell. He graduated from Flathead Valley Community College with an Associate of Science degree in 2010 and his Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry from UM in 2012.
He then worked for UM chemistry Professor Edward Rosenberg for a year before earning his Ph.D. in toxicology from UM under the mentorship of Professor Howard Beall in December 2018. He has worked in Sprang’s lab as a postdoctoral research associate since February 2018.