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March 2017

Michael Henson, chemical engineering and M2M is one of the researchers for a three-year, $650,000 grant to support his research into the roles that various bacteria play in microbial communities. The research project is entitled “Development of Robust Microbial Communities through Engineered Biofilms.” The grant from the U.S.

David Sela and Maureen Perry-Jenkins have been awarded funding through the LSMF.

The research team is headed by Frank C. Sup, assistant professor of mechanical and industrial engineering, and Jane A. Kent, professor of kinesiology. They will use the new ergometer, a device that measures muscle power, to investigate the energetic mechanisms for changes in muscle function in old age and chronic disease, which can yield insights into mobility impairments with age.

Joonkoo Park (CPHM) has co-authored a paper that reports where in the brain numerical quantity evaluation is processed. In a series of experiments, Park and colleagues at Carnegie Mellon University used a psychophysical method that allowed them to “explore the extent to which the adult human subcortex contributes to number processing,” in particular to distinguish between cortical and subcortical involvement.

With a recent two-year, $833,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Defense, kinesiology professor Richard van Emmerik (CPHM) and colleagues hope to eventually help an estimated 1 million people worldwide living with progressive multiple sclerosis (MS) by creating an improved diagnostic test for this form of the disease, which is characterized by a steady decrease in nervous system function.

Michael A. Henson, chemical engineering and M2M, is one of three researchers working with a four-year, $1.8 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to study circadian rhythms in an effort to better understand the workings of the human body clock.
 The research could provide the basis for new forms of light or drug therapies that will allow people with changing work schedules to stay alert when awake for long periods of time and to avoid chronic fatigue from irregular sleep.

A graduate student’s surprise observation in fundamental experiments with small binding molecules at work in protein folding has allowed biochemists at UMass Amherst to develop the first firm mathematical foundation to explain cell ligands’ role in promoting proper protein folding. As biochemist Lila Gierasch (M2M) explains, proteins are the macromolecular machines that facilitate a wide array of physiological functions in all organisms.

Alexander Suvorov, environmental health sciences and M2M, is leading an international team in a yearlong project to increase Russia’s awareness of new toxicology testing techniques that eliminate the use of laboratory animals.

John Sirard, kinesiology and CPHM, and colleagues have received a five-year, $3.1 million grant from the National Institutes of Health for a new interdisciplinary research project to help understand patterns of health behaviors and outcomes among diverse urban adolescents in Massachusetts.