Saturday, March 15, 2008

Clayton State University Professor Awarded NIH Grant

Dr. Fran Norflus, an assistant professor for the Department of Natural Sciences in the College of Arts & Sciences at Clayton State University, was awarded a portion of a grant from the National Institute of Health. This is a collaborative project that Clayton State University has with Emory University.

“The grant that I was awarded is entitled Localization and Function of Huntington Associated Protein 1 (HAP1) in C. elegans. I was notified that this grant would be funded in early February and will begin this summer,” explains Norflus.

Norflus has worked in research areas of Huntington’s disease preceding her work on this grant. Prior to her accepting a position at Clayton State University in 2005, she was a postdoctoral fellow at Emory University and Massachusetts General Hospital. At this time she was performing studies to develop treatments on transgenic mice that have Huntington’s disease.

“When I came to Clayton State, I switched my research to studies that used the model organism Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans). This is an excellent model for research due to its small size, ease of manipulation, short lifespan and low cost,” says Norflus.

For this grant, Norflus is collaborating with Dr. Claire-Anne Gutekunst and Dr. Guy Benian at Emory University.

“We will use a knockout strain of C. elegans that has the Huntington Associated Protein 1 (HAP1) knocked out. HAP1 is a protein that interacts with the Huntington protein but its specific function has not been fully determined. We will use these worms to try to elucidate more on its role,” says Norflus.

At Clayton State, Norflus will characterize the behavior or the knockout strain to determine if it is deficient compared to wild type worms. An undergraduate student, Kathy Szeniawski (McDonough), will work on this project as a part of requirements for her biology research course.

Szeniawski will perform some preliminary genetic studies with the worms. She will then start the behavioral studies. Szeniawski plans to continue with this project throughout the summer.

“I am anxious to start the studies on the HAP1 knockout and hope in the future to present the findings at a research meeting,” adds Norflus.

A unit of the University System of Georgia, Clayton State University is an outstanding comprehensive metropolitan university located 15 miles southeast of downtown Atlanta.

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