MORE ECONOMIC STIMULUS FUNDS FOR CHARLES DREW UNIVERSITY
Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science was awarded $585,000 in additional economic stimulus funding in recent weeks, pushing the university’s total funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to nearly $1.2 million.
The additional federal funds were awarded to three projects sponsored by the university, which is tentatively slated to receive $3.8 million—and possibly more—under the nation’s economic stimulus program.
In recent weeks, the following projects received notice of funding:
- $184,768 – Under the direction of Dr. Rajan Singh, Assistant Professor, Division of Endocrinology, this project will explore the molecular mechanism by which testosterone and the protein follistatin help to regulate the development of muscle or fat in the body. The production of follistatin has been shown to increase muscle mass in mice. This funding will provide financial support to purchase state of the art equipment—a Fast Real-time PCR system—for performing gene-expression analysis as well as provide a job opportunity to expedite scientific research.
- $194,461—This funding supplements a 2006 Science Education Partnership Award to enhance the general public’s understanding of science. The project—“Would you like to be a scientist?”—seeks to inspire the next generation of young scientists and, at the same time, challenges scientists to explain their work in everyday language. To accomplish these goals, the project organizes science fairs, where accomplished scientists present their work before an audience of young judges. “It’s a twist on the traditional science fair,” said Dr. Sonsoles de Lacalle, Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Biomedical Sciences, who directs the project. “The children learn something, but so do the scientists.”
- $206,420—The project seeks to investigate the role of prenatal exposure to neurosteroids in the reported link between prenatal stress and the later development of schizophrenia, a devastating and debilitating mental illness. Stress leads to increased levels of the neurosteroid allopregnanolone, which is present in the fetal brain throughout gestation and increases inhibitory signaling activity throughout the fetal nervous system, said project director Samantha S. Gizerian, Assistant Professor, Department of Biomedical Sciences. Project funds were allocated to pay for a research technician and support student research activities, and will allow several undergraduate and post-baccalaureate students to work in Dr. Gizerian’s lab and participate in independent research under her mentorship.
The projects being funded by the National Institutes of Health are among the first wave of requests by the university under the federal program designed to boost the national economy through investments in education and other essential public service projects.
Dr. Keith Norris, Charles Drew University’s Interim President, said the money will “help nurture a new generation of scientists to develop practical solutions to some of the health disparities that have played havoc in so many poor and minority communities across the country.”
Dr. Theodore Friedman, who runs one of the programs receiving stimulus funds, was equally optimistic.
“These are going to be our young doctors and researchers of tomorrow,” he said. “Exposing them to exciting programs will help get them in careers of research.”
Another project director offered a similar sense of appreciation.
“We provide a tremendous experience for students and science teachers on the frontier of stem cell biology and regenerative medicine while at the same time helping to stimulate the economy by creating summer jobs,” said Dr. Matthew Ho, who also heads a project.
Earlier projects receiving American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding include the following:
- $249,000—The new funding—supporting a grant to advance the research careers of junior investigators—will be used to purchase two pieces of sophisticated laboratory equipment and to hire a technician for equipment maintenance. “This supplement will allow us to purchase two key pieces of equipment that will allow junior investigators at CDU to do state-of-the-art molecular and cell biology experiments,” said Dr. Theodore Friedman, who heads the project.
- $140,998 — The Neighborhood Structure and Cardiovascular Disease project will use mapping to determine the social and environmental influences that contribute to heart disease in specific communities in Los Angeles County. The project, a new initiative by researcher Paul Robinson, will look at the role that proximity to medical clinics, retail food outlets and recreational facilities play in community health.
- $138,240 — The Drew National High School Student Summer Research Apprentice Program (STEP-UP) program is designed to expand research education and training opportunities for budding minority scientists. An ongoing program under the direction of Dr. Keith Norris, STEP-UP aims to build a generation of research scientists who are prepared to address the needs of underserved minority and economically deprived communities. Five additional students will be given eight to ten-week research projects. Research faculty mentors will provide support for up to 30 high school participants, some of whom will be required to make oral and poster presentations before peer and established researchers.
- $95,880 — The NIH/National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive Kidney Disease program, sponsored by researcher Dr. Matthew Ho, will provide summer research experiences in stem cell biology, regenerative medicine, and research methodology for ten undergraduate students, ten high school students and five science teachers. Students and teachers will be involved in full-time laboratory research for 12 weeks during the summer of 2009 and 2010.
- $32,712 — The Biological Effects of Androgens in Men and Women program provides research and jobs for high school students, undergraduates, graduate students, and science educators for the summer of 2009. The program by Dr. Theodore Friedman started in June and expires in October.