UAPB professor wins NASA award to research genetic code

Joseph Onyilagha, an assistant professor in the Department of Biology at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, has received a NASA award to conduct research into the origin of the genetic code.

His focus is on the idea that the standard amino acid alphabet comprises a mixture of “early” versus “late” members — that is, some amino acids were available prebiotically and were therefore present from the start of genetic coding while others evolved later, as “inventions” of early metabolism.

Onyilagha will investigate whether a contemporary view of metabolic diversity supports the assertion that pathways of amino acid biosynthesis contain molecular fossils that connect “early” and “late” amino acids. Details: 575-8843.