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Release: June 26, 2002

David Soll and associates receive $3.7 million grant to continue cell motion studies

A University of Iowa biological sciences research team led by professor David Soll and co-investigators Chun-Fang Wu and Jim J.-C. Lin has received a five-year, $3.7 million grant renewal from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to continue studying how cells move, a field with implications for cancer, AIDS and infectious disease research.

Soll, who is Carver/Emil Witschi Professor in the Biological Sciences in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, says that renewed funding of its "Program Project in the Developmental Biology of Cell Motility," which began in 1984, will permit the continuation of several components of cell motility research. In addition to basic research at the UI, the program supports international cell motility work in the Program Facility, the continued development of computer-assisted motion analysis systems, assistance to scientists and visitors, and symposia and courses for students.

"The program has continued to do what it set out to do 17 years ago," Soll says. "It has fostered intense interactions between a core group of scientists interested in cell motility at the University of Iowa, evolved as a pioneer in the development of advanced motion analysis systems that meet the present and future needs of the program participants, and has had an impact worldwide in fostering the use of these unique technologies for studying how cells crawl.

"In the past year, it has advanced its technologies to include the 3D reconstruction and motion analysis of cells moving in tissues, GFP-tagged molecular complexes, and cells and nuclei in developing embryos. All of these program components will be continued and expanded in the next five-year period."

During the past five years, Soll and his colleagues have continued to use program technologies to investigate the molecular mechanisms that regulate animal cell locomotion, including nerve cell growth, the effects of HIV on white blood cell behavior, the basis of the Schwachman-Diamond syndrome, cancer cell metastasis and neural tissue development. New program goals include the use of the newly developed computer system to reconstruct and motion analyze baboon embryo development.

Soll's laboratory is composed of 32 researchers who currently hold seven grants and contracts. Their research interests range from the effects of ultra sound on cancer cells, infectious organisms and agricultural pests to investigating Candida albicans, an infectious yeast responsible for a variety of pathological conditions. During its 19-year existence, Soll's cell motility studies have attracted about $16 million in research funding.