DMU researchers attract grants with diverse research

Julie Meachen, Ph.D., is fascinated by carnivores and willing to spelunk to find their remains. Her explorations in Wyoming’s Natural Trap Cave in summer 2014 and 2015 may provide clues about our own future amid climate and temperature change.

Eric Wauson, Ph.D., a former electrocardiogram technician who witnessed suffering caused by cardiovascular disease, wants to know whether inducing autophagy — a process of cell degradation — can keep heart cells alive during and after a heart attack.

Vanja Duric, Ph.D., is investigating mechanisms of the central nervous system that may ultimately contribute to both the identification and development of more effective treatments, diagnostics and prevention strategies for major depressive disorder. MDD is a psychiatric illness that affects up to 17 percent of the U.S. population and is associated with functional and structural abnormalities of several brain regions including the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex, key orchestrators of mood regulation and cognitive function.

All three DMU faculty members have received external grants to support their research in recent months. Meachen, assistant professor of anatomy, landed a $400,000 grant from the first National Science Foundation, the first such grant awarded to a DMU faculty member.

Wauson, assistant professor of physiology and pharmacology, was awarded more than $200,000 by the American Heart Association to fund his research on autophagy in relation to the heart. Duric, assistant professor of physiology and pharmacology, received a $100,000 research starter grant in pharmacology/toxicology from the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America Foundation.

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