Jennifer Levy, a postdoctoral research fellow in the department of molecular physiology & biophysics at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, has been awarded an MDA development grant totaling $180,000 over three years. (This type of grant reflects MDA's commitment to the career development of promising young researchers.) The funds will support Levy's research on repair of the muscle-fiber membrane.
Each muscle fiber is surrounded by a membrane that undergoes frequent rounds of damage and repair, assisted by a protein called dysferlin.
Dysferlin is deficient in the type 2B form of limb-girdle muscular dystrophy (LGMD) and the Miyoshi form of distal muscular dystrophy (DD). In these forms of MD, muscle-fiber membrane repair is ineffective and is accompanied by inflammation. However, the relationship between dysferlin deficiency and inflammation is not fully understood.
"I aim to identify the aberrant membrane repair mechanisms that compensate for the loss of dysferlin," Levy said, "and to determine if dysferlin-independent membrane repair signals immune cells to augment inflammation at sites of muscle injury."
She said identifying new factors that contribute to muscle inflammation in dysferlin-deficient patients may also lead to the discovery of new therapeutic strategies for other muscular dystrophies also associated with inflammation.
"MDA is critical to the funding of my research," Levy said. "As I am currently a postdoctoral research fellow, this funding will be beneficial in my development into an independent investigator."
Funding for this MDA grant began August 1, 2011.