On January 30th 2018, Manuel Merz has been granted the Best Master’s Thesis Award 2018 for his work entitled: “Screening for sulfonamide small molecule inhibitors of mTORC2 signaling”.
About his work
The Mammalian Target of Rapamycin kinase mTOR assembles into two complexes termed mTORC1 and mTORC2, which regulate cell growth, proliferation and survival in response to intra- and extracellular stimuli. Whereas mTORC1 is acutely inhibited by rapamycin, we are aiming to develop inhibitors specific to mTORC2 which are currently lacking. To this end we have identified small molecule ligands of the Pleckstrin Homology domain of mSin1, an essential subunit of mTORC2 that enables plasma membrane localization and thus regulation of downstream signaling. These small molecules could provide a valuable tool to better characterize downstream mTORC2 signaling and may eventually find utility in treating cancers associated with hyper activation of the complex.
The prize implemented by the NCCR Chemical Biology acknowledges exceptional achievement of a young scientist enrolled in the Master in Chemical Biology programme at UNIGE. The work of Manuel Merz has been selected on the basis of the following criteria: (1) great interdisciplinary value, (2) originality of the topic, (3) considerable research progress and maturity, (4) clarity of the written manuscript, (5) mastery of the domain as evidenced during the oral examination. He will receive a cash prize of CHF 2’000. The award also includes an invited special lecture on the occasion of the annual Retreat of the NCCR Chemical Biology in June.