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Professor receives largest grant ever at ONU

Aug 31, 2010

ImageBoyd Rorabaugh, associate professor of pharmacology and cell biology at Ohio Northern University, has received the largest National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded research grant in the University’s history for his work investigating the role of regulators of G-protein signaling (RGS) proteins in cardiac ischemic injury. The total amount of the grant is $2,484,937, of which ONU will receive $347,235.

The project, a collaboration with Richard Neubig, M.D., Ph.D., from the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Michigan School of Medicine, involves understanding how interactions between RGS proteins and G proteins protect the heart from ischemic injury, or the injury that occurs when there is a lack of blood flow during a heart attack.

“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to collaborate with colleagues at the University of Michigan and to have NIH support for this project,” Rorabaugh said. “We are looking forward to developing a better understanding of the functions of RGS proteins in the heart and studying their potential role as therapeutic drug targets for the treatment of ischemic heart disease."

Already, the team has found that disruption of interactions between RGS proteins and G-proteins protects the heart from ischemic injury, and the goal now is to determine which hormones, neurotransmitters and intracellular signal transduction pathways are involved. The team also is trying to determine exactly which of the 20 RGS proteins are involved in modulating cardioprotection.

Recently, the American Heart Association (AHA) accepted some of the data from the project for presentation at the AHA Scientific Sessions meeting in November. The AHA accepts approximately 25 percent of the abstracts that are submitted for presentation at this meeting. The team also will be submitting the data for publication in a medical journal.

Part of the grant money will be used to hire a full-time technician to work in Rorabaugh’s laboratory. Rachael Waterson, a sixth-year pharmacy student from Benzonia, Mich., Corbin Thompson, a fifth-year pharmacy student from Painesville, Ohio, Nathaniel Mabe, a second-year pharmacy student from Ashville, Ohio, and Madeline Shanko, a third-year pharmacy student from Avon Lake, Ohio, have assisted on the project.