Centre professor receives $100,000 grant

October 05, 2004

Steve Asmus, an associate professor of biology and biochemistry and molecular biology at Centre College, has received a $100,000 research grant from the National Institutes of Health, a government-funding program.

The three-year grant will go toward Asmus' ongoing research into brain development.

Centre students will assist Asmus with the NIH project. Using rat brains as a model, the research team will study neurotransmitter production and cell death during brain development. Neurotransmitters are the chemicals that neurons use to communicate with each other.

"If we can understand more about the regulation of neurotransmitters and the cell death process, that may hopefully help us better understand certain neurological diseases, including Parkinson's disease," Asmus says.

The NIH grant will benefit students in many ways. "It allows them to take part in an intensive research experience and to see if they want to do this as a career," Asmus says.


Students who have conducted research with Asmus have gone on to attend medical school or Ph.D. programs in biomedical science.

Ryan Steed, a biochemistry and molecular biology senior from Catlettsburg, will be assisting Asmus this year. He plans to pursue a Ph.D. and a career in research.

"This year is a great opportunity for me," says Steed, a John C. Young Scholar. "I've conducted research at other institutions during summers, but my project with Dr. Asmus allows me to be immersed in researching one question for an entire year. It will allow me to explore a part of my field that I've not had much exposure to and also to gain important scientific skills that will be useful in my future career."

Asmus applied for a specific NIH grant in the fall of 2003. The AREA (Academic Research Enhancement Award) grant goes to investigators at colleges and universities that don't typically receive NIH funding. The AREA program was established to promote biomedical research by undergraduates.

The grant will help pay for equipment, supplies and a stipend for the student researchers. This past summer three Centre students - seniors Matt Lally and Cara Quilligan and junior Shariya Terrell - took part in the brain development research.

The new equipment will be added to laboratory tools previously purchased by the college from grants provided the by Kresge Foundation.

Centre offers a range of opportunities for students to participate in collaborative research with faculty members during the academic year and the summer.

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