The Diamond Blackfan Anemia Foundation (DBAF), in collaboration with DBA-UK, is pleased to announce funding for a project entitled, “Ribosome biogenesis, cellular signaling pathways and Diamond Blackfan anemia.” A $41,810 grant was awarded to Nicholas James Watkins, Ph.D, a senior lecturer in the Institute for Cellular and Molecular Biosciences at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne in the United Kingdom.

Watkins lab

Dr. Watkins has had a longstanding interest in ribosome biogenesis and has recently published an important paper on the role of the 5S RNP (a complex of 5S rRNA with RPL5 and RPL11) in activating p53 in response to defects in ribosome synthesis in the journal, Cell Reports 5:237-247 (2013). This signaling pathway has been on the forefront of DBA research for several years.  Dr. Watkins’ laboratory has recently identified two regulators of the 5S RNP signaling complex that could represent potential targets for the development of new drugs to treat DBA.

Dr. Watkins stated, “We are grateful to the DBA Foundation and DBA-UK for supporting this project. Our laboratory has a long-standing interest in the production of human ribosomes and for a few years now we have been interested in uncovering the mechanism leading to genetic diseases such as DBA. The money will support the Ph.D. students in the lab who are studying the regulation of the tumor suppressor p53 in response to defects in ribosome production.”

The DBAF appreciates Dr. Watkins hard work and interest in DBA and is grateful to DBA-UK for their willingness to help fund this important project. The work in the Watkins laboratory adds to the growing number of research studies supported by the DBA Foundation focused on translating laboratory results to improvements in care for DBA patients.