Transforming Lives Research Grant Awards $120K In Faculty Funding

Written by: CEHD Communications Staff
Post date: January 15, 2015

In an effort to further support innovative research that meaningfully impacts people in the state, nation, and world, The College of Education and Human Development awarded five faculty members the Transforming Lives Research Grant. Funding, totaling $120,000 for the 2015 fiscal year, was provided by the indirect cost returns from the college and the Kay and Jerry Cox Middle School Endowment.

The grant program is designed to support research projects that have the potential to lead to external funding by agencies and endowments, such as the Institute for Educational Sciences, National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health and other agencies, foundations and councils.

In addition, the grant is designed to encourage the multidisciplinary research through the formation or strengthening of research teams from more than one disciplinary area.



Lymphatic Biology and Bone Health in Inflammatory Bowel Disease: Impact of Exercise

This project will study the contribution of lymphatic function to inflammatory bowel disease (IBD, e.g., Crohn’s disease) and to reduced bone density and increased fracture risk these patients experience. The lymphatic system is a complex network of vessels circulating body fluids (lymph) through lymph nodes. Hence, it plays a key role in immune function and auto-immune diseases like IBD. This exciting collaboration between the PI’s Bone Biology Laboratory in HLKN and that of Dr. David Zawieja of Medical Physiology (TAM-HSC) will provide unique data on the time course of altered lymphatic function and, concurrently, declines in bone integrity in a well-accepted rodent IBD model.

Dr. David Zawieja of the Texas A&M Health Science Center is also a co-principal investigator on this project.



Anit-Osteoporosis Treatment Utilizing Sclerostin Antibody and the Potential Detriment to Skeletal Muscle Health

Musculoskeletal health and function is critical to the well-being and longevity of an individual. Several clinical and environment states result in loss of muscle and/or bone content and consequently lead to a loss of quality of life. Recently, inhibition of sclerostin protein or its associated SOST gene has been linked to an improvement in bone formation during disuse atrophy, and has received considerable attention as a possible therapy against osteoporosis, but may also result in losses of muscle mass. The objective of this proposal is to use two specific aims concentrating on 1) clinical and 2) basic research studies to verify this health risk and to identify the mechanisms contributing to muscle wasting. The researchers hypothesize that two well-known signaling pathways may be inherently linked by a common protein, and propose innovative techniques to test our central hypothesis. This proposal is the first step towards preventing a potentially fatal treatment.

Co-principal investigators on this project include Drs. Harry Hogan of the Texas A&M College of Engineering, Jeffery Willey of the Texas A&M Health Science Center and Nicholas Greene of the College of Education and Health Professions at the University of Arkansas.



The Role of Nox2 and Loss of nNOS-mu in Aging Skeletal Muscle: Integrative and Translational Solutions

Sarcopenia is an age-associated degenerative process in skeletal muscle. Sarcopenia causes muscle wasting and weakness, affecting 42 million Americans and costing $18 billion per year. Recent publications and pilot data show that oxidative stress and impairment of proteins residing near the muscle cell membrane from the sarcolemma contributes to muscle atrophy with disuse (e.g. spaceflight), as well as muscle damage and inflammation with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Reducing oxidative stress and returning nNOS reduces wasting, susceptibility to damage and weakness. The researchers’ pilot data reveal that nNOS disappears from the cell membrane with aging, which is protected by exercise. The researchers propose to place nNOS back on the cell membrane using gene therapy, targeted antioxidants and exercise.

Co-principal investigators on this project include Dr. Dongsheng Duan, of the School of Medicine at the University of Missouri, and Drs Joe Kornegay and Weston Porter, of the Texas A&M College of Veterinary & Biomedical Sciences.



Neural Markers of Adolescent Obesity

Progress for the effective prevention and treatment of obesity is hindered because we do not fully understand the underlying mechanism and its development profile. The proposal aims to find neural markers of poor impulse control – a key mental risk factor implicated in obesity – during adolescence. Neural markers of impulse control implicated in obesity may assist in intervention. Furthermore, mapping the developmental profile of such mechanisms may determine optimal time windows for intervention.

Dr. Sherecce Fields of the Texas A&M College of Liberal Arts is also a co-principal investigator on this project.