Padilla-Benavides to Study How Copper Helps with Muscle Development with NIH Grant

Teresita Padilla-Benavides

Teresita Padilla-Benavides, assistant professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, received a grant from the NIH in August.

With the support of a five-year, $1.1 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Teresita Padilla-Benavides will study how transition metals—such as copper—contribute to the development of muscle.

The monetary award, called an NIH Research Project Grant (NIH R01), aims to support research and development in health-related fields that bolster the mission of the NIH.

“​Thanks to this award, we will be able to investigate novel molecules and their association with transition metals, such as copper, and how they contribute to the development of muscle,” said Padilla-Benavides, assistant professor of molecular biology and biochemistry. “My project will investigate in-depth novel molecular mechanisms by which Cu and Cu-binding transcription factors regulate lineage-specific gene expression and muscle development. We hope to establish a basis to understand muscular phenotypes observed in multiple diseases related to Cu deficiencies at a transcriptional level.”

The funds also will allow her to provide more research opportunities at her Wesleyan lab to undergraduate students.

“I was able to recruit four new undergrads to work on the project, one grad student and one postdoc,” Padilla-Benavides said. “The grant will support the expenses associated with reagents, attendance to scientific meetings, etc. We hope to publish our preliminary findings within one year and continue advancing the project with a focus on human health in the subsequent years.”

Padilla-Benavides coauthored a similar paper on the subject titled “The molecular and cellular basis of copper dysregulation and its relationship with human pathologies,” which was published in the July 2021 issue of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) Journal. The paper explores the role of copper in human disease.

For more information on Padilla-Benavides’s grant, visit her project report.