Biomedical capacity grows through INBRE

Delaware INBRE awards four new pilot grants


1:26 p.m., April 19, 2011--Four researchers affiliated with the Delaware IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE) program, which is aimed at building the state’s biomedical research capacity, have been awarded grants for pilot projects.  The new awards bring the program total to 18 projects.  

Three of the new projects are funded by the National Institutes of Health.  

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Wenlan Wang, a research scientist at Nemours/A. I. duPont Hospital for Children, will carry out systematic analyses of  survival motor neuron complexes. The long-term goal of the work is to understand the mechanisms of motor neuron death in spinal muscular atrophy, a genetic disease that occurs in one in 6,000 live births and causes paralysis.  Wang holds adjunct faculty appointments at the University of Delaware and Thomas Jefferson University.

Thomas Mennella, assistant professor of biological sciences at Delaware State University, will investigate the role of the H2A.Z histone variant in reactivating Tup-1 repressed genes in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. “Human cells share a great deal in common, both at the DNA level and functional level, with single-celled eukaryotes such as yeast,” Menella says. “By studying how a yeast repressor of gene expression, called Tup1, reactivates genes, we hope to shed light on how similar mechanisms operate to keep human cells healthy.”

Takeshi Tsuda, pediatric cardiologist at Nemours/A. I. duPont Hospital for Children, will conduct research on extracellular matrix remodeling and human heart failure.  The term extracellular matrix refers to the supporting “environment” surrounding the cells.  “In this project, we’re examining the myocardial tissues from patients with end-stage heart failure to determine how changes in the extracellar matrix induce pathological events,” Tsuda explains.

A fourth pilot research project will be supported by state of Delaware funds linked to the NIH INBRE program. Prof. Csilla Szabo will explore the genetic contribution of breast cancer susceptibility genes to health disparities.  Szabo is an assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Delaware.

About Delaware INBRE

Delaware INBRE is a partnership among six institutions, including four academic partners—the University of Delaware, Delaware State University, Delaware Technical & Community College and Wesley College—and two clinical partners—Christiana Care Health System and Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children

The program supports promising biomedical research by investigators throughout this statewide network. 

Over the past 10 years, Delaware INBRE has secured $45 million from the National Institutes of Health to build research infrastructure including laboratory renovations and core instrumentation centers, supported over 50 biomedical pilot research projects, and trained nearly 800 students from its partner institutions.

A new call for future pilot research projects supported by Delaware INBRE will be released in May 2011. Prospective applicants are invited to an open information session on Thursday, April 28, as part of the Delaware INBRE research symposium.  Check the website for registration information.

Article by Diane Kukich

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