6/1/16 ASHLAND, Ohio – Ashland University’s Dr. Mason Posner, professor and chairperson of the Department of Biology and Toxicology, has received a $305,000 research grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to continue his research program using the small zebrafish to investigate the causes and prevention of lens cataract.
The grant will provide stipends for summer undergraduate research students, as well as funds for supplies, small equipment and travel to conferences.
According to Posner, this three-year research grant from the NIH's Academic Research Enhancement Program is intended to expose students to research, strengthen the University's research environment and support meritorious research.
The grant is a renewal of work that Posner has conducted with NIH funding since 2001 that uses the zebrafish as a model organism to understand how proteins, called alpha crystallins, help maintain the transparency of the lens of the eye.
Posner's previous work has contributed to the growth of this zebrafish model for examining lens biology and the development of cataracts, one of the leading causes of human blindness. Past NIH funding has supported 25 undergraduate research students in Posner's lab and led to eight peer-reviewed publications.
“This latest funded project will use a recently developed gene editing technique called CRISPR to remove specific alpha crystallin genes from the zebrafish to determine the role they play in lens development and prevention of cataract,” Mosner said. “Another related set of experiments will use a type of zebrafish mutant that develops congenital cataracts to test the ability of natural and engineered alpha crystallin proteins to prevent lens cloudiness.”
Posner noted that these studies apply unique approaches to investigating the basic biology of the eye lens with direct applications to the understanding of human blindness.
Ashland University, ranked in the top 200 colleges and universities in U.S. News and World Report’s National Universities category for 2016, is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University (www.ashland.edu) values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students. ###