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NIH awards four-year, $1.48 Million grant to Tuskegee University College of Veterinary Medicine for breast cancer research

September 28, 2020

Contact: Anissa Riley, College of Veterinary Medicine

Dr. Deepa Bedi

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded $1.48 Million for four years to the Tuskegee University College of Veterinary Medicine for breast cancer research.  Deepa Bedi, MD, Ph.D., is an associate professor in the college’s Department of Biomedical Sciences and is serving as the principal investigator for the grant entitled, “Evaluation of HSPD1 (Heat Shock Protein, 60) as a theranostic target for breast cancer.” Dr. Bedi during her research will evaluate the role of heat shock protein 60 in the progression of breast cancer. 

“I aim to use this protein as a marker of TNBC progression as well as a target to deliver anti-cancer drugs to this highly aggressive and metastatic cancer. This grant will provide the necessary resources to fulfil this hypothesis and be able to contribute to the knowledge and cure of TNBC, particularly in African-American women,” Dr. Bedi said.

“We are proud of the contributions that Dr. Bedi will make to biomedical research as she translates the discoveries and observations into therapies in her cancer laboratory in the college.  The data and information gained from this newly funded research study will heighten awareness and enhance the Cancer Research program here at Tuskegee University,” said Dr. Ruby L. Perry, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine.

“We are also appreciative to Dr. Shaik Jeelani, vice president for research and dean of the graduate school, for his support of our faculty and their pursuits of research studies that are relevant to animal and human health.  Biomedical research, in particular breast cancer, is one of our signature research programs here at the University,” Perry said.

Dr. Bedi’s work in cancer research is not new and was previously funded by NIH in a grant in 2016 in the amount of $441,000 for three years.  She also coordinates many efforts across campus with Dr. Clayton Yates, who is the director of the Center for Cancer Research at Tuskegee University.  

Previously, using phage display technology in Dr. Bedi’s cancer biomarker discovery and therapeutics lab, she had discovered heat shock protein 60 to be highly expressed and have a higher expression in African Americans with breast cancer as compared to Caucasian Americans. 

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, breast cancer is one of the most frequently diagnosed cancers and the leading global cause of cancer death in women, accounting for 23% of cancer diagnoses (1.38 million women) and 14% of cancer deaths (458,000 women) each year. Triple-negative breast cancers (TNBC) occur in 10-15% of patients, yet this disease subtype accounts for almost half of all breast cancer deaths and represent as highly aggressive and metastatic phenotype, specifically among African-American women.

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