Ashland University’s Dr. Mason Posner, professor and chairperson of the Department of Biology and
Toxicology, recently received a $305,000 research grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to continue his research program using the small zebrafish to investigate the causes and prevention of lens cataract. According to Posner, this three-year research grant from the NIH's Academic Research Enhancement Program is intended to expose students to research, strengthen the University's research environment and support meritorious research.
Two students have been working in Dr. Posner's lab this summer. Rising senior and Choose Ohio First Scholar Kelly Murray says that "the opportunity to participate in lab has been a valuable experience, providing me with practical laboratory skills and a better understanding of the scientific process. The work has has helped me to develop my skills as an aspiring scientist and has informed my decision to apply for graduate programs this fall." The photo below shows Kelly examining zebrafish embryos using the Department's inverted fluorescent microscope.
Rising Senior Hayden Eighinger plans to attend medical school and says "I have applied learned concepts from basic biology classes to higher level genetics courses, doing much to unite my understanding of concepts gained in different classes. This experience is important because it has reinforced my understanding of biological concepts crucial to success not only as an aspiring doctor, but also as a student of biology".
The other big change in lab this summer was the installation of a new zebrafish aquarium system, funded by the new research grant. Dr. Posner and his students will be filling the system with genetically modified zebrafish in the months to come.
The grant is a renewal of work that Posner has conducted with NIH funding since 2001 that uses the zebrafish as a model organism to understand how proteins, called alpha crystallins, help maintain the transparency of the lens of the eye. You can read more about this research on Dr. Posner's website.