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NIH grant to fuel research into blood pressure regulators

By Kristina Kenney
University News Service
October 12, 2011

Texas State University-San Marcos Associate Professor Rachell Booth and Assitant Professor Wendi David in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry have been awarded a competitive R15 grant from the National Institutes of Health, one of the preeminent funders of biomedical research in the U.S. and the world.

The grant will extend throughout a period of three years and is valued at approximately $275,000. The R15 award is sometimes referred to as an AREA grant, or Academic Research Enhancement Award. These awards are very competitive, with typically only 19 percent of all applications receiving funding.

The project is aimed at enhancing understanding of one of the regulators of blood pressure maintenance and may lead to therapies for addressing high blood pressure in the future. The funding will help support and provide contemporary supervised research opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students to perform studies centered on structural characterization of the epithelial sodium channel, which is essential to understanding the regulation of sodium balance in the blood.

The award will also help support a research environment that will provide opportunities to Texas State students through the enhancement of their educational experiences and close mentor to mentee relationships.

The AREA program of the NIH was created with the three main goals of supporting meritorious research, strengthening the research environment of the institution and exposing students to research. The grant is a research award and not a training award, so the focus is not on course work but hands-on, meritorious research. Students will benefit from such research and be encouraged to continue studies in the biomedical sciences. AREA awards are anticipated to enhance the university’s institutional effectiveness in garnering future NIH support.

For more information, contact Michael Blanda at (512) 245-2314 or at blanda@txstate.edu.