OHSU

Sushma Kommineni named Vertex Scholar

Graduate student Sushma Kommineni

08/08/2011

Portland, Ore.— Ph.D. student Sushma Kommineni has been named Vertex Scholar, based on her academic excellence and commitment to scientific research.

The OHSU-Vertex Educational Partnership Program offers $35,000 scholarships funded by Vertex Pharmaceuticals, a biotechnology company based in Cambridge, Mass. The award will fund Kommineni's stipend and fees for one year.

Kommineni is in her third year as a graduate student in the Division of Environmental and Biomolecular Systems at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU). Working with her advisor Dr. Michiko Nakano, Kommineni's research focuses on uncovering the molecular mechanism of a nitric oxide (NO) sensitive transcription repressor (NsrR).

"Bacteria that encounters nitric oxide as a consequence of immune evasion has evolved to protect itself through transcriptional control," Kommineni says. "Therefore, elucidation of the NO-sensitive transcription regulation will greatly contribute to our understanding of bacterial infection and persistence."

Kommineni was recently published in Molecular Microbiology for her research titled, "Nitric oxide-sensitive and -insensitive interaction of Bacillus subtilis NsrR with a ResDE-controlled promoter."

"Sushma is one those students that has a strong determination to accomplish her research and scholarly goals," Nakano says. "This is an important honor for her and I am extremely happy she received the scholarship."

The Vertex program is an unencumbered gift to OHSU. Vertex, with a market capitalization of more than $7.2 billion, is committed to the discovery and development of breakthrough small-molecule drugs for serious diseases. Its current product pipeline is focused on viral diseases, cystic fibrosis, inflammation, autoimmune diseases, epilepsy, cancer, and pain. The company co-discovered the HIV protease inhibitor, Lexiva, with GlaxoSmithKline.