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Graduate Student Dare George Receives Prestigious John A Penner Fellowship in Hematology, Thrombosis, and Inflammation

Headshot of graduate student Dare George in white sweater against gray background.
 Graduate Student Dare George (Tepe Group). Courtesy Photo.

Michigan State University Department of Chemistry graduate student Dare George was recently awarded a prestigious John A. Penner Fellowship in Hematology, Thrombosis, and Inflammation. This highly competitive fellowship includes a $35,000 stipend, health insurance, and tuition waiver for the 2023-24 school year. 

Dare, who holds a B.Sc. in Chemistry from Obafemi Awolowo University, joined MSU in 2019 and currently conducts research in the Tepe Group. Currently, his works focuses on the proteasome—a protein complex that helps break down and “recycle” unneeded proteins within the body.  

During his time as a Penner Fellow, Dare and other colleagues in the Tepe lab will investigate novel approaches for proteasome inhibition for potential treatment of cancer. Just as the build-up of proteins from loss of proteostasis results in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s, the Tepe Group are identifying new ways to leverage these mechanisms in the context of cancer therapeutics. 

“When you inhibit the proteasome, you prevent it from breaking down proteins. These proteins then accumulate and become toxic to the cell. In terms of cancer, we hope that by preventing proteasomes from doing their work in cancer cells, this build-up of protein will effectively kill the cancer cells themselves.” Specifically, Dare is interested in the promise of proteasome inhibition in the realm of blood cancer.  

“While there are some proteasome inhibitors currently on the market used to treat blood cancer, the problem is people develop resistance over time—and when the cancer comes back, it’s very aggressive,” Dare explained. “We’re trying to find a novel mechanism of inhibiting proteasomes that will lead to better, long-lasting treatment.” 

When asked about his ongoing success and interest in groundbreaking medicinal chemistry at MSU, Dare in part points to his experience and upbringing in rural Nigeria. “My interest in chemistry has been there from the very beginning. My parents are both medical people and I’ve seen firsthand what the right medicine can do, and how powerful science and chemistry can be in terms of changing people’s lives.” 

Recently, Dare also won the Best Poster Award at last month’s 2023 National Organic Chemistry Symposium (NOS) held at the University of Notre Dame for his work on the total synthesis of nagelamide W. This work was also published in June in the Journal of Organic Chemistry.