Inspiring Minds seeks to broaden awareness and impact of graduate student research, while enhancing transferable skills. Students were challenged to describe their research, scholarship or creative activity in 150 or fewer words to share with our community.



Searching for the Keys to Activate Adhesion G Protein-Coupled Receptors

Cell receptors are specialized proteins that receive and send signals to regulate cell activity. Receptors act in a similar manner as locks since they can only be “open” (or activated) with the right “key” (or molecule). Adhesion G Protein-Coupled Receptors (aGPCRs) are a class of cell receptors that are involved in regulating many diseases such as cancer and neurological disorders, but there are currently no drugs that directly target these receptors because their activation mechanisms are still unclear. The aim of my study is to explore how aGPCRs are activated by looking at which proteins interact with aGPCRs and examining which parts of these receptors are involved in activation. Through unlocking the mystery of aGPCR activation and signalling, my research can guide the development of drug targets for aGPCRs in treating disease.

Kelly Zhou
PhD candidate, Physiology and Pharmacology
Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry - Western University

Rithwik Ramachandran

Kelly Zhou is currently completing her Master's Degree in Physiology and Pharmacology at Western University. She received her undergraduate degree at Wilfrid Laurier University where she double majored in Biology and Psychology. She developed a passion for research during her undergraduate career, where she volunteered her time as a research assistant and completed a thesis. Her current research focuses on a family of receptors called Adhesion G protein-coupled receptors (aGPCRs). These receptors are involved in various diseases, but there are currently no drugs that directly target them. She hopes that her research will guide future studies in addressing potential therapeutic targets for aGPCRs and uncover their involvement in disease. 

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