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December 11, 2006

ULM professors receive funds for pioneering cancer research

Two University of Louisiana at Monroe professors, Chris Gissendanner and Yong-Yu Liu, were recently awarded a total of almost $700,000 by the Idea Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE).

Gissendanner, assistant professor of genetics, received $349,977 for his project “NR4A Regulation of Organogenesis,” a project that focuses on the genetic regulation of organ development. This research will enhance the understanding of several human diseases linked to the NR4A gene, including neurodegeneration, vascular disease, and cancer.

The project will provide biology undergraduates with increased opportunities in basic biomedical research. Gissendanner’s research has also been supported by the ULM Howard Hughes Undergraduate Education Program and the Louisiana Board of Regents.

"The INBRE grant does more than provide funding for my laboratory to pursue an important problem in developmental biology. These funds improve departmental research infrastructure and also further establish a biomedical research presence in the Department of Biology,” he said.

Liu, assistant professor of pharmacology, received $349,977 for his project “Glucosylceramide Synthase (GCS) as a Novel Therapeutic Target for Cancer Treatment,” which will characterize the molecular mechanisms’ underlying drug-resistance in cancer cells. The grant will fund the development of gene-based cancer treatments, Liu said.

More than 500,000 Americans die every year from cancer, due to the failure of chemotherapy treatments. Drug resistance of cancer cells is the result of gene alterations and represents the biological basis for these failures. Previous researchers have indicated that GCS might be a new therapeutic target for cancer chemotherapy. Liu’s research will explore the cell and molecular biology of cancer, particularly in drug resistance and cancer treatment.

INBRE was established in 2000 with funding by the National Institutes of Health, through the National Center for Research Resources. Formerly known as Louisiana Biomedical Research Network, INBRE is devoted to the enhancement of biomedical research throughout the State of Louisiana and the improvement of the competitiveness of Louisiana biomedical researchers.

INBRE links researchers on several campuses throughout the state, including Louisiana State University, The University of Louisiana at Monroe, LSU Health Sciences Center in Shreveport, LSU Health Sciences Center at New Orleans, Southern University and A&M College, and Louisiana Tech. The primary focus of this program is to strengthen the research capabilities of the partner institutions through the support of research projects.

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