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Release: Immediate

Three UI projects win new biosciences initiative pilot grants

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa has announced the first winners of the Biosciences Initiative Pilot Grants. The grants, for multidisciplinary, collaborative research by UI faculty members, provide up to $50,000 and are designed to develop the potential of the research projects so that they can attract external funding support.

Three research projects involving 10 UI faculty members won the awards. The projects involve research on three different proteins: how one works in conveying signals in the nervous system; another's role in activating T-cells in HIV infection; and how yet another protein may work to reduce stress and strain on connective tissues such as cartilage.

The competitive grant program is an outgrowth of the university's focused initiative in biosciences, begun in 1995. David Skorton, UI vice president for research, says the program is intended to further improve the strength of biosciences research and teaching at Iowa.

"Already, bioscience research contributes almost 70 percent of the university's $197 million research enterprise," Skorton says. "It's an area where faculty, staff and students have great ability to raise external funds for research, education, and public service. These grants can help get new research ideas developed to the point that they can be competitive for funds from federal, private, and international sources."

The three winning projects and 10 researchers are:

* "Rapid Optical Imaging of Genetically Engineered Neuronal Ion Channels," by researchers Alan Kay, associate professor of biological sciences; Lei Geng, assistant professor of chemistry; and Toshinori Hoshi, assistant professor of physiology and biophysics.

* "Role of T Lymphocyte Specific Protein Kinase p561ck in HIV Immunopathogenisis," by researchers Frederick D. Goldman, assistant professor of pediatrics; and David R. Soll, professor of biological sciences; collaborating with Jack T. Stapleton, professor of internal medicine.

* "Anti-adhesive Proteins and Cellular Adaptations to Mechanical Strain," by researchers Clark M. Stanford, associate professor of dentistry; Joseph A. Buckwalter, professor of orthopaedic surgery; Gary L. Baumbach, professor of pathology; and Richard A. Brand, professor of orthopaedic surgery.