Thursday, February 11, 2010

Biology professor and students secure research grant

Dr. Mason Posner and his research laboratory have been awarded three years of funding from the National Institutes of Health to use the zebrafish as a model for understanding cataract, eye lens development and lens evolution.  This new grant ($158,000) will be used to pay salaries to Ashland University students conducting summer research, as well as for equipment and supplies.  Dr. Posner and two of his students will also be using these funds to travel to Fort Lauderdale Florida in May to present their findings at an International Vision and Ophthalmology meeting.

This award is an extension of a project on lens cataracts that has been funded since 2001.  Dr. Posner and his students have already identified and characterized several genes from the zebrafish that are thought to be involved in cataracts.  This new study will use molecular techniques to turn off these genes to see how they affect lens development and function.  Because their lenses are so similar, the zebrafish is a great model for understanding what goes wrong to produce cataracts in humans, one of the leading causes of blindness.  Previous students that have worked on this project have used the experience to help gain admission to medical, dental and veterinary schools, as well as graduate schools.  Jason Dahlman '03 was the first lab alum to earn a PhD, and Mike Danko '04 the first to earn an MD.

Current members of the lab recently attended the Great Lakes Vision Research Conference in Columbus, Ohio.

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