Sushma Kommineni named Vertex Scholar

OHSU Graduate student Sushma Kommineni


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.