Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Gerald Griffin Receives Annual "Social Sciences Young Investigators Award"

Research Project Wins Hope Social Sciences Young Investigators Award
A collaborative faculty-student research project,
led by Dr. Gerald Griffin with students Brandon Ellsworth and Aaron O’Meara, that studies an essential part of body chemistry that has also been connected to Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia has won the “Social Sciences Young Investigators Award.”

The project entitled “The 1-42 Isoform of Amyloid Beta Reduces Cell Viability of Salmonella Enterica” received the recognition for investigating the normal functioning of the peptide amyloid beta, which has been found in elevated levels as a plaque in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.

“The work is based on the theory that microbial infections may be one source of neural degeneration,” said Griffin, who holds appointments in two academic departments as an assistant professor of biology and psychology and has just completed his first year at Hope. “This particular peptide that we have studied has been associated with multiple forms of dementia, but the function of the peptide is highly debated.”  
The Hope team’s research project considered whether or not amyloid beta helps reduce microbes that can invade the central nervous system. They tested its effect on Salmonella enterica, finding that the 1-42 isoform of amyloid beta did combat the growth of the bacterium. At the same time, Griffin emphasizes that it’s premature to draw a direct line from the study’s results to the development of Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. The students will continue to work with Griffin on the project this summer, pursuing new questions to further clarify what amyloid beta does.

Prior to coming to Hope, Griffin was an assistant professor in the Department of Biology at Tuskegee University for four years, previously serving as a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Microbiology at the University of Pennsylvania for two years.  He completed his doctorate in neuroscience at the University of Pennsylvania in 2009 and undergraduate degree in biology at Cornell University in 2003.  He has written several articles published in referred scientific journals.

The “Social Sciences Young Investigators Award” is designed to recognize and encourage junior faculty to partner with students in research collaborations that further the scholarship goals of the faculty member while developing the skills of critical inquiry and analysis in his or her students.  It includes funding for the faculty and student team to present the work at a professional conference.

Posted 5/25/2016 04:13:00 PM

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