Tag Archive for Biology

Grabel Defends Embryonic Stem Cell Research to The Senate

Laura Grabel.

Laura Grabel, the Lauren B. Dachs Professor of Science and Society, is the co-director of the University of Connecticut Human Embryonic Stem Cell Core Facility. (Photo by Alexandra Portis '09)

Sitting in front of the Senate panel, Laura Grabel was ready for the “when” and “why” questions. But she knew one of these questions held a lot more potential danger to her future than the other.

Grabel, the Lauren B. Dachs Professor of Science and Society, professor of biology, is a renowned stem cell researcher. She is also the co-director of the University of Connecticut Human Embryonic Stem Cell Core Facility, part of a $100 million human stem cell research initiative created by the State of Connecticut in 2006.

The stem cell initiative was the state’s response to a veto issued by then-President George W. Bush that restricted federally-funded research on human embryonic stem cell lines to cell lines derived before August 2001. The initiative included a collaboration of three state academic institutions with outstanding stem cell researchers: Yale University, The University of Connecticut and Wesleyan University. During the start-up round, Grabel was not only named co-director of the facility, she received an $878,348 grant for her research.

All of this led up to her sitting in front of the panel at the State Senate in Hartford in the last week of February.

Aaron Awarded $50,000 for Epilepsy Study

Gloster Aaron, assistant professor of biology, assistant professor of neuroscience and behavior, received a $50,000 grant from The Epilepsy Foundation on Dec. 6 titled “STEP Regulation of Epileptogensis in the Hippocampus.”

Drugs prescribed to combat epilepsy can yield unwanted side effects. One reason that drugs have side effects is that they can affect almost every neuron in the brain, regardless of their roles in spreading seizures. Aaron will research ways target only the neurons that may be most important in stopping the spread of seizures. Previous work has shown that a certain protein, STEP, is found in select groups of neurons. One of those groups of neurons, the hilar interneurons of the hippocampus, is a crticial group with regards to epilepsy. By manipulating that protein, researchers can target that group of neurons, and hopefully gain traction in a selective therapy for preventing and curing epilepsy.