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Zebrafish and “Driver” Genes: Biologists Nab Grants

By Anna Mann on March 16, 2016 05:30 PM

Prof. Kara Cerveny

Prof. Kara Cerveny [bio] won an $80K grant to study neurogenesis in zebrafish.

Three Reed biology professors have won significant grants this spring, continuing a remarkable string of success for the biology department.

Prof. Kara Cerveny won an $80,000 grant from the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust to investigate neurogenesis—the process by which neurons are generated—in zebrafish. This is part of a collaborative grant with two other principal investigators at Whitworth University and Lewis & Clark College; the total amount awarded to all three institutions is $240,000. The Collaborative Research Alliance Pilot Initiative will establish a virtual "Center for Excellence" in the Pacific Northwest. The overall goal of this project is to study the mechanisms underlying cell specification behavior during neurogenesis in developing embryos.

Prof. Suzy Renn won a $57,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to organize the BRAIN STEM workshop which brought together professors and students from colleges around the nation to discuss the role of undergraduate research and education toward the national BRAIN Initiative.

Prof. Anna Ritz won a $41,500 grant from the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust to develop computational methods to identify “driver” genes whose mutations may be responsible for cancer progression.

These grants come on the heels of several others announced last year:

Prof. Suzy Renn won a $618,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to investigate a striking example of maternal behavior—voluntary starvation among African cichlid fish. Her research could shed light on the evolution of maternal instincts and deepen our understanding of metabolic and feeding disorders.

Prof. Erik Zornik won a $444,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health to research mechanisms in the brain that generate rhythmic behavior, with the goal of finding new treatments for neurological disorders.

Prof. Todd Schlenke won a $373,000 grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a division of the National Institutes of Health, to study one of nature’s most unforgiving arms races—the struggle between fruit flies and venomous parasitic wasps. (May the contest be long and bloody.)

Prof. Jay Mellies won a $362,769 grant from the National Institutes of Health investigate a key regulatory protein that enables a sinister pathogen to sicken children.