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Josh Sharp

Joshua Sharp. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

Pharmacy Researcher to Use $2M NIH Grant to Study How Drugs Work in the Body

Renewal of project funding speaks to importance of understanding modern medicines

OXFORD, Miss. – The National Institutes of Health has awarded University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy Professor Josh Sharp roughly $1.9 million to develop technologies for measuring how proteins work and interact with other biomolecules.

The Research Project Grant funding covers four years of research, expiring in August 2027. The RO1 is the original and oldest grant mechanism used by NIH, and provides support for health-related research and development based on the organization’s mission.

“I congratulate Dr. Sharp and his colleagues on this R01 renewal,” said Donna Strum, dean of the School of Pharmacy. “This funding is a well-deserved acknowledgement of Dr. Sharp’s vision and his commitment to innovative, groundbreaking research to improve human health.”

Sharp’s work covers method development for examining large protein complexes, protein structures that change over time and measuring protein structures and interactions in whole blood.

“Molecular models of biomolecular structures have led to a revolution in the way we understand and manipulate the molecules of life,” said Sharp, a Triplett-Behrakis Endowed Professor in the Department of BioMolecular Sciences and director of the Glycoscience Center of Research Excellence.

“However, due to limitations of current technology, large gaps remain in our understanding of the three-dimensional structure and dynamics of biomolecules and biomolecular complexes, including many critical to human health.”

Sharp’s plan is to develop powerful and flexible technologies that allow researchers to measure biomolecular structures that change over time and measure protein structures and complexes within the whole blood of mammals.

“As drugs get more complex, it becomes harder and harder to actually understand what happens to them in the body,” Sharp said. “It’s no longer enough to understand how the drug is metabolized. Now with biologics, you have to understand how the three-dimensional structure and interactions change in different patients and over time.”

This is Sharp’s first successful renewal by the NIH of this project, initially funded in 2018, and the third time he has received a competitive grant through NIH. Sharp is serving as principal investigator with co-investigators Steffan Lindert, of Ohio State University, and Lisa Jones, of the University of California-San Diego.

By Natalie Ehrhardt