BSC researcher receives $124K research grant - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

BSC researcher receives $124K research grant


(Bluefield)—Dr. James Walters, Assistant Professor of Biology at Bluefield State College, has been selected to receive a large grant from the West Virginia-Idea Network for Biomedical Research Excellence (WV-INBRE) grant that will strengthen the College’s ability to study lipid metabolism, strengthening the understanding of clinically relevant therapeutic targets for health-related conditions like diabetes and heart disease.  The grant will provide $124,000 annually for a two-year period. 

The Walters lab studies lipid (fat and cholesterol) metabolism by investigating the first steps in the process of how lipids are taken into the body.  Much of the process occurs in the small intestine.  “With this grant, we will investigate the intestine’s cell biology and gene expression changes occurring after a high fat meal,” Dr. Walters explained.  “The larval zebrafish is an ideal model of vertebrate intestinal physiology because the cells are so similar to humans.” 

Seven BSC students, under Dr. Walters’ direction, will be involved in the grant’s research.  “This permits us to train undergraduate students in cutting edge molecular biology,” he continued.  “It is really an apprenticeship, giving students the conceptual understanding and hands-on skills to become researchers.  They are taught how to perform and understand experiments, read date, and present data at local and national conferences.”

“This grant creates a huge opportunity for our research lab to grow and improve,” he noted.  “It pays stipends for students, permits the purchase of supplies, and underwrites the hiring of a technician to maintain the lab.”

Dr. Walters also expressed appreciation for the assistance of his WV-INBRE research mentor, Dr. Nalini Santanam (Clinical Professor, Department of Cardiology at Marshall University’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine), and Dr. Tesfaye Belay (BSC Professor of Biology).
“I would like to emphasize that training students in the skills necessary for biomedical careers in research is my mandate from BSC's enthusiastic administration who wish to grow this aspect of our service to students,” he concluded.

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