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NIH awards more than $3 million to fund Heritage College health research

(ATHENS, Ohio — Sept. 26, 2014) In the past two months, the National Institutes of Health have awarded more than $3 million to researchers at the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine. The funding will support the health-related studies of five college scientists. The following grant awards were announced:
  • $1,376,867 from the National Institute on Aging to Brian Clark, Ph.D., professor of neuromuscular physiology and executive director of the Ohio Musculoskeletal and Neurological Institute (OMNI), to study the role the brain and nervous system play in reduced muscle strength for aging populations. Although muscle weakness related to aging has long been attributed to loss of muscle mass, new studies suggest that other factors are involved as well. The four-year study will more closely examine neurological mechanisms that might be responsible for age-related loss of strength and test the effectiveness of two interventions.
  • $408,375 from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases to Brian Clark to test a promising exercise called Kaatsu, which may improve muscle size and function in patients with recurrent low back pain. A pilot study conducted by Clark suggested that Kaatsu could be beneficial for certain individuals, muscle conditions or locations that can’t safely use high weights.
  • $445,500 from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research was awarded to Susan Williams, Ph.D., professor of anatomy, to study lingual nerve damage. The lingual nerve, which runs in the floor of the mouth to enter the tongue, is often damaged during routine dental procedures and can affect a person’s ability to speak and eat. Researchers hope the three-year study will provide insights to help with the development of strategies to rehabilitate those with nerve damage.
  • $445,500 from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to Bonita Biegalke, Ph.D., associate professor of virology, to study human cytomegalovirus (HCMV), which is considered to be the main viral cause of mental retardation in infants. Currently, there is no cure for HCMV. With the hope of building a better arsenal of antiviral compounds, Biegalke and her team are closely examining a protein, UL34, which plays a key role in the replication of the virus.
  • $407,558 from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to Mario Grijalva, Ph.D., professor of microbiology and director of the Tropical Disease Institute, to study the geographic transmission patterns of the parasite that causes Chagas, a potentially fatal disease infecting 11 million people in Latin America. The research funded by the three-year grant will provide more clarity about how this deadly disease is disseminated.
  • $371,250 from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases to Leslie Consitt, Ph.D., assistant professor of microanatomy. The three-year study will investigate the cellular mechanisms that contribute to skeletal muscle insulin resistance, which is the main contributing factor in the development of obesity-related Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

“These recently funded projects show the abundance of scientific expertise at the Heritage College and the many ways in which our researchers are tackling public health problems,” said Executive Dean Kenneth H. Johnson, D.O. “We are fortunate to have so much talent focused on transforming and improving the communities we serve.”

The Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine is a leader in training dedicated primary care physicians who are prepared to address the most pervasive medical needs in the state and the nation. Approximately 50 percent of Heritage College alumni practice in primary care and nearly 60 percent practice in Ohio.

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Last updated: 01/28/2016