Lung cancer researcher awarded foundation fellowship

Kamesh Bikkavilli

Rama Kamesh Bikkavilli, who studies the development of lung cancer, was named a 2014 A Breath of Hope Research Fellow. Photo: Joshua Clark/UIC Photo Services


A College of Medicine researcher was honored by A Breath of Hope Lung Foundation for his work on lung cancer.

Rama Kamesh Bikkavilli, assistant professor in pulmonary, critical care, sleep and allergy in the College of Medicine, was named a 2014 A Breath of Hope Research Fellow. The award includes a $150,000 grant to support his research.

Bikkavilli is looking at the role of certain proteins, enzymes and molecules in driving the development of lung cancer.

His research focuses on arginine methylation. Methylation is the bonding of a small molecule — a methyl group, composed of a carbon atom and three hydrogen atoms — to a much larger molecule, such as a protein or DNA. Methylation, which can change the shape of the larger molecule and how it functions, is important in regulating gene expression.

Arginine, one of the amino acid building blocks of proteins, bonds easily with a methyl group.

“There is mounting evidence that arginine methylation is important in many cancers, including lung cancer,” says Bikkavilli, a member of the University of Illinois Cancer Center.

“Drugs that interfere with or target arginine methylation may represent a whole new class of therapies to treat 

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