MU students and professors receive prestigious grants

Tuesday, August 17, 2010 | 2:21 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Six professors and students received grants totaling $200,000 in a ceremony at the MU Health Care Center on Monday.

The grants, funded through the University of Missouri Institute for Clinical and Translational Science, aim to help bring scientific experiments out of the laboratory and into clinical tests so that eventually they can be used as treatment.

Jamal Ibdah, medical director of the institute, explained that "our arching goal is to strengthen, improve and develop interdisciplinary research in the campus. We wish to translate discoveries from the lab bench to the bedside, and eventually to the community itself."

To qualify for a grant, applicants must demonstrate how their research will apply to curing a human disease. They also must collaborate with investigators from different academic fields.

Sandra Axiak, faculty at the Veterinary College of Medicine, received a $50,000 grant. She is collaborating with the College of Veterinary Medicine, the Department of Radiology, Research Reactor and the School of Medicine to investigate treatment of hormone-independent prostate cancer. The grant will allow her to expand her research, which involves brachytherapy using gold nanoparticles or palladium seeds in dogs with spontaneously occurring prostate cancer.  Dogs serve as a model for hormone refractory prostate cancer in men.

Axiak seeks to compare the results of gold and palladium treatment to find the least toxic method. Thanks to the grant, Axiak's research will be able to move forward with clinical trials.

Caroline Phillips, associate professor of biochemistry and child health, is researching osteogenesis imperfecta, also known as Brittle Bone disease. Her $50,000 grant allows her to continue her research, which the National Institute of Health originally funded.

"This study will also provide us with insight into how bone responds to exercise," Phillips said in a news release. "If the NIH sees preliminary data that shows the bone's positive response to exercise, it will be much more likely to provide additional funding."

Carolyn Henry, a professor of oncology, was on the scientific review committee, which selected the grant recipients.

"Our biggest thing was finding grants which would lead to external funding, such as from NIH," she said. "We didn't want to be in a position where our grant runs out and then that's it."

Other awards went to:

  • Amie Van Morlan, a professor in the medical school, $50,000.
  • Justin Purdy, a fourth-year medical student, $10,000.
  • Bruno Roseguini, a veterinary graduate student, $9,989.
  • Brad Snow, a doctoral student in mechanical engineering, $9,998.
  • Bhanu Prakash Telegu, a professor in the College of Agriculture, $10,000.

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