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Rivier University NH-INBRE grant awards foster faculty-student research in the sciences

NH-INBRE grant awards to Rivier University will engage faculty and students in original biomedical research.

Rivier University professors

Rivier University professors Dr. Michelle Beck, Dr. Tatiana Jones, and Dr. Will Schmidt (from left to right) have received NH-INBRE grants to advance biomedical research.

Three Rivier University biology professors have been awarded grants in support of projects that will engage students in authentic scientific research, training the next generation of researchers. The New Hampshire IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (NH-INBRE) grants were received through an Institutional Development Award (IDeA), P20GM103506, from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the NIH. All projects are anticipated to begin this summer, and grant funds will support several paid positions for Rivier student-researchers.

“Receiving three grant awards reflects our faculty’s dedication to academic excellence and the University’s commitment to innovation in the sciences,” says Dr. Brian Ernsting, Vice President for Academic Affairs. “Rivier’s new Science and Innovation Center was designed to advance faculty-student research and to elevate the student experience. The vision that built the new Center is realized in these projects.”

Dr. Michelle Beck’s research project will examine element concentrations in song sparrows across urban and rural habitats to determine if element concentrations have effects on stress and immune responses. Using songbirds as a model will allow Dr. Beck to determine if the elevated element levels could negatively impact human health as well.

Dr. Tatiana Jones’ project will explore how extracellular ribonucleic acid (RNA) can influence the activities of macrophages, white blood cells responsible for primary immune defenses. Student-researchers will learn how these cells are involved in responses of our immune system to different pathogens, including viruses.

Dr. William Schmidt will investigate the targeted modification of muscle proteins in hopes of identifying potential biological mechanisms that can be modulated to alleviate or prevent disease. The project will determine if modification of a key muscle protein influences specific molecular interactions that determine muscle function, thus identifying the protein as a potential target for consideration in future drug discovery and design studies.

“The primary goal of our research is to provide undergraduate Biology students the opportunity to conduct clinically relevant biomedical research working alongside full-time faculty members,” says Dr. Jones. “Being actively involved in these research projects will allow students to develop experimental and analytical skills to advance their academic progress and to expand their career opportunities.”

The grant awards also establish a multi-disciplinary research collaboration for Rivier University with NH-INBRE Lead Institution Dartmouth College/The Geisel School of Medicine and Co-Lead University of New Hampshire and several other Partner institutions. NH-INBRE research projects also provide student-researchers with opportunities to present their work at conferences, interact and network with fellow scientists, and co-author scientific papers for possible publication.

The University’s 36,000-square-foot Science and Innovation Center opened in fall 2020 to advance the education of biology, biotechnology, nursing, and public health students.