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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

New research projects funded under URI's $16.5 million biomedical research grant

Media Contact: Dave Lavallee, 401-874-5862

KINGSTON, R.I. -- August 24, 2004 -- Nine junior researchers at six institutions of higher education are among those whose projects are being funded through a $16.5 million, five-year IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE) grant awarded to the University of Rhode Island by the National Institutes of Health.

In addition to these scientists, up to eight new researchers will be recruited and supported through URI's INBRE grant, which is called the Rhode Island Network for Molecular Toxicology.

• Eric Hall, Rhode Island College -- the mechanisms of MTBE-induced testicular injury. Methyl tertiary-butyl ether (MTBE) is a common gasoline additive and acts as an endocrine disruptor. Hall’s research will: explore the developmental male reproductive tract effects of MTBE in mice and rats using transgenerational studies; determine the testicular target cells of MTBE-induced injury; and examine the mechanisms of MTBE-induced texticular injury using a testis explant system.

• Mary Hixon, Brown University, toxicant induced testicular injury -- She will focus on how spermatogenesis is susceptible to disruption by exposure to environmental agents that can result in rapid and massive germ cell death. The overall growth of the testis is based on the survival and proliferation of both germ and Sertoli cells.

• Keykavous Parang, University of Rhode Island -- Molecular targets of arsenic toxicity. Specifically, an enzyme in the signaling pathway that may be related to the causation of arsenic-induced cancer will be studied, along with the treatment strategies.

• David Rowley, University of Rhode Island -- This project will explore molecular mechanisms by which marine organisms cause severe human poisonings, such as ciguatera toxic fish poisoning, paralytic shellfish poisoning, diarrhetic shellfish poisoning and neurotoxic fish poisoning. The public health impacts of these marine toxins in the U.S. average $22 million annually.

• Alison Shakarian, Salve Regina University -- This project is designed to study an enzyme that appears to be essential for the survival of the parasite, Leishmania, in its environment and to test the sensitivity of this enzyme to the organophosphate inhibitors. Leishmaniasis is a disease characterized by skin lesions and liver problems.

• Gongqin Sun, University of Rhode Island -- This project will examine oxidative stress, a common mediator of toxic effects of many environmental factors, such as heavy metals, organic chemicals and ionizing radiation, in causing cancer.

• Charles Toth, Providence College --Toth’s research will focus on polyamines, which are essential for life in all living cells. Manipulation of polyamine levels can have profound effects on cell growth. The mode of toxicity of polyamine analogs and the role of antizyme will be studied

• Yinsheng Wan, Providence College –This research will contribute to the basic understanding of molecular mechanism of ultraviolet skin photo-aging and skin cancer, and provide molecular basis for developing preventive and therapeutic strategies.

• Kerri Warren, Roger Williams University -- Her study of the embryonic effects of cadmium and methylmercury will provide insight into the mechanisms of metal-induced cardiovascular effects in humans.