The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia molecular biologist Adam Resnick, PhD, recently received an award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to study inositol pyrophosphates, a class of messenger molecules. A rare example of NSF support of research at CHOP, Dr. Resnick’s award is one of only a handful of active NSF awards given to Children’s Hospital investigators.
Dr. Resnick, an assistant professor of neurosurgery at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, first joined Children’s Hospital and UPenn as an instructor in 2006 after receiving his PhD from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, where he worked under Solomon Snyder, MD, DSc, DPhil. Named an assistant professor in Neurosurgery at CHOP/Penn in 2009, Dr. Resnick with his partner, Neurosurgery Division head Dr. Phillip (Jay) Storm, study cell signaling in pediatric brain tumors, working to better understand tumors at a molecular and genetic level.
With the support of this five-year award, Dr. Resnick plans to “discover and define the second messenger roles of inositol pyrophosphates.” Found in all eukaryotic cells, inositol pyrophosphates are a new class of signaling molecules that “play roles in diverse processes,” said Dr. Resnick, who has been working with inositol pyrophosphates and related molecules since his time at Johns Hopkins. “They do novel things … they modify proteins in new ways,” he added.
While these molecules are ubiquitous, inositol pyrophosphates remain poorly understood, so with this project Dr. Resnick hopes to describe how these molecules work with an eye toward future experimentation, he said.
The award from the NSF is “extremely rare,” Dr. Resnick noted, because the agency is “very basic science and student education oriented.” Indeed, according to the NSF’s website, it is “the funding source for approximately 20 percent of all federally supported basic research conducted by America’s colleges and universities,” and is often the major source of funding in “mathematics, computer science and the social sciences.”
While Dr. Resnick has been “very involved in translational research,” at the same time his lab conducts “a fundamental level of research.” After all, in order to perform translational research scientists “have to know how cells work” first, Dr. Resnick said, so his inositol pyrophosphate project is a good fit for the NSF.
And in part because the NSF is committed to supporting “science and engineering education, from pre-K through graduate school and beyond,” Dr. Resnick’s project will also feature specific opportunities for undergraduate, graduate, and medical school students to receive basic research training in the context of the laboratory's translational science endeavors. Students will have the chance to get a “real authentic view of the importance of basic, fundamental research in the context of a children's hospital setting,” Dr. Resnick said.
In addition to his work on inositol pyrophosphates, Dr. Resnick has been involved in a number of other investigations. He is a member of CHOP's Stand Up 2 Cancer Dream team, is contributing to a project led by CHOP geneticist Struan Grant, PhD, investigating the genetic links between type 2 diabetes and cancer, and recently traveled to Washington, DC to advocate for continued federal support for childhood brain tumor-related research. And alongside CHOP’s Tom Curran, PhD, FRS, Peter C. Phillips, MD, and Phillip (Jay) Storm, MD, Dr. Resnick helps lead CHOP’s involvement in the Childhood Brain Tumor Tissue Consortium (CBTTC).
A multi-institutional, collaborative research organization dedicated to the collection, annotation, and analysis of children’s brain tumors, the CBTTC is comprised of The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, Seattle Children’s Hospital, and Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. Consortium member institutions are currently engaged in several research projects, three of which are investigations of specific types of brain tumors, while a fourth is focused on better understanding pediatric and adult gliomas. Much of the consortium’s work is reliant on genomic sequencing, which is performed at Children’s Hospital.
To read more about Dr. Resnick’s project, see the NSF award page.