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Release: June 29, 1999

University of Iowa researcher wins National Institutes of Health grant

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Sarah England, Ph.D., University of Iowa assistant professor of physiology and biophysics, has received a five-year, $813,898 grant from the National Institutes of Health to study potassium channels during pregnancy.

Through her investigation, England hopes to identify mechanisms to treat pre-term labor, a reproductive disease that affects many women.

Potassium channels are potential therapeutic targets for pre-term labor because the channels can alter the ability of the uterus to become excited and contract. England's investigation will focus on determining whether altering the potassium channel expression and the channel's association with one of its components can alter uterine excitability during pregnancy.

"The lack of understanding of the molecular mechanisms regulating uterine smooth muscle contraction has hampered progress toward an effective treatment for pre-term labor," England said.