University of Georgia, College of Pharmacy
Eileen Kennedy is the Georgia Athletic Association Professor, and Interim Department Head at the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Georgia. She earned her Ph.D. in Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of California, San Diego 2005, and following Postdoctoral and Research Associate positions at Harvard University, came to the University of Georgia in 2010.
Research in the kennedy lab focuses on design of allosteric inhibitor compounds targeting kinase activation and signaling. The protein kinase superfamily comprises one of the largest gene families encoded in the human genome. A comprehensive understanding of kinase activity under normal and disease states is critical in order to identify targets for disease intervention. However, studying kinase signaling is inherently challenging since there are more than 500 kinases in the human genome, and as a result, there is significant crosstalk among multiple kinases for phosphorylation targets. Additionally, multiple isoforms exist for many kinases, thereby making it nearly impossible to address the question using genetic knockdowns/knockouts since other genes will compensate with altered expression levels.
To address this question, the Kennedy lab is developing novel chemical biology strategies to synthetically disrupt protein:protein interactions, PPIs, using chemically stabilized peptides. This methodology allows for the development of investigative tools that can be applied to elegantly and selectively manipulate protein-protein interactions that are involved in signaling pathways within a cellular environment. The long-term goal of the lab is to develop synthetic biologics that can be used to probe cell signaling events that are mediated by kinases. By inhibiting specific protein:protein interactions within a cellular environment, cancer-related cell signaling events can be studied in a temporal manner and highlight new strategies for therapeutic intervention. They are applying this strategy to study the AGC family of kinases as well as EGFR in breast and lung cancer models.