posted July 8, 2009

Grant Supports Research on Cell Functioning

A major multi-year grant from the National Science Foundation is supporting a Hope College professor's on-going research into how cells produce natural anti-oxidants.

Dr. Leah Chase, associate professor of biology and chemistry at Hope, has received a three-year, $466,724 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for her project focused on understanding strategies used by cells to combat oxidative damage.  The support began in June and will continue through May 31, 2012.

Chase's research lab studies how cells control the production of the intracellular anti-oxidant, glutathione.  Specifically, Chase and her students examine the basic mechanisms by which oxidants regulate the function of membrane transport proteins which internalize the precursors for the synthesis of the gluathione.  She notes that a better understanding of such cellular processes is of fundamental importance because oxidative stress can lead to significant cellular damage and ultimately cell death if left unchecked.

Chase's research team will include Hope undergraduates during both the school year and summer, as well as high school students during the summer through "Project REACH" (Research Experience Across Cultures at Hope).

Chase has been a member of the Hope faculty since 2000.  She has led the development of the college's neuroscience program, which became a minor in 2004.

Prior to joining the Hope faculty, she conducted postdoctoral training at the University of Minnesota, where she had completed her doctorate in biochemistry in 1999.

She has received a variety of other external grants in support of her research and development of the neuroscience program, including eight years of continuous support from the Campbell Foundation and awards from the NSF in 2002 and 2006 to create the college's laboratory course in neuroscience and purchase a fluorescence microscope to support her research, respectively.  Hope named her a Towsley Research Scholar, a four-year award, in 2003.

In 2008, she was elected to the governing board of the Faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience (FUN).  Among other professional activity, she is a member of the Society for Neuroscience, the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and Sigma Xi.