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Research students receive NASA grants

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Four biomedical science Ph.D. students from the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine have received West Virginia Space Grant Consortium Graduate Research Fellowship grants to fund their continued dissertation research in a variety of disease-related areas.

Each student received a $12,000 grant from the NASA West Virginia Space Grant Consortium for their projects, which vary from the study of protein functions to metabolic diseases to growth factors in cancer cells. The awards are supplemented by the School of Medicine and each student must work closely with a faculty member to conduct his or her research.

“These students are conducting valuable research to help move modern medicine forward,” said Richard Egleton, Ph.D., co-director of biomedical sciences at Marshall University. “Through these grants, both NASA and our institution help promote a dynamic environment for research among the next generation of researchers.”

The student recipients are:

  • Deborah L. Amos, who is working in the lab of Nalini Santanam, Ph.D., will use her NASA grant to gain deeper insight into how exercise affects metabolic diseases, such as obesity, investigate the impact of exercise on lean/fat body mass and skeletal muscle function in a “stress less” mouse model and provide a means of improving skeletal muscle function and lean body mass.
  • Caroline A. Hunter, with the lab of Emine Koc, Ph.D., will use the grant to study the synthesis of protein functions in the mitochondria, metabolic syndrome and potential treatments that could prevent the development of these and related diseases.
  • Rachel A. Murphy, working with Monica Valentovic, Ph.D., will utilize the grant for her study: “Tenofovir Nephrotoxicity: A Mechanistic Study.” Murphy will investigate how and why Tenofovir (a drug used to treat HIV) results in kidney toxicity.
  • Justin K. Tomblin, with the lab of Travis Salisbury, Ph.D., will use the grant to study how growth factors regulate the expression and activity of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor in breast cancer cells.

“I am honored to receive this grant. It is rewarding to know that NASA can see how my work can make a contribution in the prevention of diseases,” Hunter said. “This is a great opportunity for me to have my work funded so I can make further achievements doing what I love–research.”