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May 7, 2010

NIH awards nearly half million to ULM Pharmacy Professor

The National Institutes of Health recently announced an award of $426,000 to Dr. Victor Hsia of the University of Louisiana at Monroe's College of Pharmacy.

The Academic Research Enhancement Award, funded through the NIH National Eye Institute, was given to Hsia as principal investigator of a project titled, "Mechanism of multifunctional transcription factor Egr1 induction by HSV-1 lytic infection."

HSV-1 is an eye infection resulting from the herpes simplex virus. The infection sometimes causes inflammation as well as scarring of the cornea and is the leading cause of blindness in the United States and developed world, according to Hsia.

“What our research has shown is the expression of a rapidly producing protein only present with the herpes simplex virus, and not present in the eyes during normal conditions,” said Hsia.

Hsia and his students hope to develop a new strategy to prevent viral replication of the protein and the blindness caused by the presence of the virus in the eyes.

The graduate students assisting Hsia in his research include Gautam Bedadala of Hyderabad, India; Jay Palem and Suryatheja Ananthula, both of Andhra Pradesh, India; and Theja Ananthula of Warangal, India.

“We are very excited about the possibilities,” said Hsia. “I believe we have state-of-the-art facilities and some of the best students around, so there is much potential for advanced research in this area.”

Hsia added that the ULM College of Pharmacy offers the only virology lab in northeast Louisiana, and said the funding will enhance and increase the research already underway at the university. Ultimately, it is this kind of research and educational opportunities that benefits not only students, but also the public, said Hsia.
The funding starts May 1, 2010 and runs through April 30, 2013.

“Having a research proposal funded by the National Institutes of Health is a significant event in the career of a faculty member,” said Benny Blaylock, interim dean of the College of Pharmacy.

“It shows the confidence NIH has in the potential for Dr. Hsia's research and his ability to do cutting edge work. The entire College of Pharmacy congratulates Dr. Hsia on this signal accomplishment.”

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