MU granted $10.5 million for research

Money is earmarked for arthritis and heart disease studies and nuclear science.
Friday, October 17, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 10:38 a.m. CDT, Friday, July 18, 2008

MU researchers have won more than $10 million in federal grants that will help them improve the treatment of arthritis, prevent heart disease and develop better nuclear science education programs, campus administrators announced Thursday.

A five-year grant for $4 million from the U.S. Department of Education went to Jerry Parker, clinical professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation and director of behavioral health at Truman Veterans Hospital. The money will go toward the development of the Missouri Arthritis Rehabilitation Research and Training Center.

Researchers hope to develop an online self-management program for older adults, study what types of exercise and physical fitness are best for individuals with knee osteoarthritis, and develop a national strategic communication campaign.

“Arthritis is an often misunderstood and potentially disabling condition, which diminishes the quality of life for millions of Americans,” Parker said in a statement from the MU News Bureau. “More than 7 million people in the United States report limitations due to arthritis, and this disease will continue to incapacitate millions of people in the future. It is imperative that we build a program that can combat the effects of arthritis.”

MU researchers Harold Laughlin and Ed Rucker received a $3.5 million, five-year grant from the National Institutes of Health for research on coronary artery disease. The researchers will investigate the activities of a gene that could be important in maintaining artery health.

“Coronary artery disease is the leading cause of death in the United States,” Laughlin, chairman of the Veterinary Biomedical Sciences Department, said in the press release. “We’ll be using the pig as a model for our research because pigs’ vascular systems are very similar to humans. We will be looking at whether or not we can produce the enzyme that the gene produces in order to build healthier arteries.”

Wynn Volkert, professor of radiology and interim director of the Nuclear Sciences and Engineering Institute, won a $3 million, five-year grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. The money will be used to form the Midwest Nuclear Science and Engineering Consortium.

“There is a nationwide shortage of nuclear scientists and engineers in the country,” Volkert said in the press release. “Our goal is to provide structure for research and education through a large collaboration with researchers and educators across the country.”

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