UT Dallas Chemistry Professors Receive Welch Foundation Grants

Dr. Sheel Dodani

Dr. Sheel Dodani

Two UT Dallas faculty members in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry — Dr. Sheel Dodani BS’07 and Dr. Gabriele Meloni — are recipients of three-year, $195,000 grants from the Welch Foundation to support research geared toward improving the understanding of cellular function.

Dodani’s research focuses on the development of imaging technologies that would allow us to better understand how anions, negatively charged atoms such as chloride, contribute to human health and diseased states such as cystic fibrosis, cancer and chronic pain.  

“Directly visualizing the chloride anion itself has been limited by technical challenges,” Dodani said. “Turn-on fluorescence imaging approaches could revolutionize the field but remain largely underdeveloped. If successful, we will not only define the design criteria required for the detection of chloride and other anions in water but will also provide a more complete picture of how cells spatially and temporally position chloride for biological function.”

Meloni’s work involves learning more about how transition metals — some of which are essential for cell metabolism while others are severely toxic — are selectively transported across cellular membranes by specific transporter proteins.

Dr. Gabriele Meloni

Dr. Gabriele Meloni

“We expect this work help establish a new line of groundbreaking research in a neglected aspect of bioinorganic chemistry,” Meloni said. “Revealing the coordination chemistry involved in transition metals’ transporter-mediated cellular transport will significantly contribute to our understanding of how metal substrates are recognized and translocated across lipid bilayers and biological membranes.”

Founded in 1954, the Houston-based Welch Foundation is one of the nation’s largest private funding sources for basic chemistry research through research grants, departmental programs, endowed chairs and other special projects at educational institutions in Texas. With Dodani’s and Meloni’s grants, UT Dallas now has eight active Welch grants.

The foundation also renewed grants to Dr. Dean Sherry, the Cecil H. and Ida Green Distinguished Chair in Systems Biology; Dr. Jung-Mo Ahn, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry; and physics professor Dr. Anvar Zakhidov. Additionally, faculty members Dr. Kenneth Balkus, Dr. Lloyd Lumata and Dr. Mihaela Stefan have ongoing projects funded by the foundation.

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].

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