The National Institutes of Health has granted Northern’s Biology Department $185,000 to fund student biomedical research. The Idea Networks for Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE) grant will provide stipends for two students to be trained each summer to work in Dr. Mario Izaguirre-Sierra’s plant research lab. Only 20 projects are funded by the grant nationwide.
“The goal of our research is to study how cell nuclei develop in normal versus stressful conditions” Izaguirre said. “We use plants as a model system and students do the research.”
One area Izaguirre and his students are researching is telomeres, the parts at the end of a chromosome that protect it.
“As we age, our telomeres get shorter. Individuals with cancer also have shorter telomeres. If we can understand how these structures work, we also get closer to understanding cancer and the aging process,” Izaguirre said.
Student researcher and biology major Lisa Salazar has worked in Izaguirre’s lab for the past four semesters. She says the experience she has gained has given her confidence to work in any other lab environment.
“The work I do in our lab is equivalent to that performed by graduate students,” she said. “Dr. Izaguirre motivates and trains us not only to raise the standard academically among our classmates, but against students from larger institutions as well.”
Students’ research will be recognized at the internationally-recognized American Society for Cell Biology Conference in Philadelphia this December.
Northern’s biology department has received a total of $233,000 in grant funding for student research this year alone.