CONTACT: GARY GALLUZZO
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0009; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: July 2, 2001
UI biologist receives $1.4 million in research grants
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- University of Iowa Biologist David R. Soll has received
$1.4 million in grants for two research projects, one aimed at better understanding
the behavior of an infectious yeast responsible for a variety of health problems
and the other at advancing scientists' knowledge of how cancer cells spread.
A $1,286,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Institute
for Allergies and Infectious Diseases will enable Soll and his colleagues
to further their study of Candida albicans. Candida is an infectious yeast
sometimes responsible for vaginal irritation as well as a variety of pathological
conditions, including death in some individuals whose immune systems have
been weakened by other diseases. Soll notes that in 1985, Bernice Slutsky,
a researcher in the Soll lab, discovered that Candida was in fact a "Dr.
Jekyl with many Mr. Hydes," switching between different forms that could
potentially cause different forms of the disease. Each form expresses different
virulence genes, allowing Candida to adapt to different challenges, such as
drug therapy and the human immune system. Soll and his colleagues have now
identified genes that regulate switching. This grant funds further characterization
of these genes.
A $118,000 grant from the American Cancer Society will enable Paul J. Heid,
a post-doctoral fellow in the Soll lab, to explore how changes in cell motility
are linked to the spread of cancerous cells throughout the body. By understanding
how cells respond to their environment and become invasive, researchers could
one day develop new, less destructive ways to lessen the spread of cancers.
The study will make use of Soll's dynamic image analysis system that currently
allows researchers to track the motion of cells in 3D and ultimately will
enable investigators to enter the interior of individual cells through a virtual
Soll, a UI faculty member since1972, is internationally known for his work
on Candida albicans, cell motility, and a variety of other research fields.