Professor Eunsook Lee and a team of researchers secured funding over five years.
A Florida A&M University (FAMU) professor has secured a $2.4 million federal research grant to further investigate the causes and treatment of neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease.
Eunsook Lee, R.Ph., Ph.D., a professor of molecular neuroscience and neurotoxicology in the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Institute of Public Health, received an R01 award over a five-year period from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) at National Institutes of Health (NIH) for her project, “Mechanisms Associated with Neuroprotection from Manganese (Mn)-induced Neurotoxicity.”
“Manganese is an essential trace element in our body, but its overexposure from the environment such as air pollution and contaminated water as well as occupational settings such as welding causes a neurological disorder, similar to Parkinson’s disease, referred to as manganism,” said Lee, who has been researching this area for 15 years.
This grant will test if a gene called REST (Repressor Element1 (RE1)-Silencing Transcription factor) can be neuroprotective from Mn neurotoxicity.
“Since manganese is considered a significant contributing factor to Parkinson’s disease development, and given the similarities between manganism and Parkinson’s, investigating REST’s protective mechanism against Mn neurotoxicity will also aid in Parkinson’s disease therapeutic research in addition to intervention of manganism,” Lee said. “We hope to obtain solid and promising findings on the neuroprotective role and mechanism of REST in Mn neurotoxicity from this grant.”
In this grant, Lee is collaborating with Michael Aschner, Ph.D., Albert Einstein School of Medicine, New York as a co-investigator; Ashvini Chauhan, Ph.D., and Matthew Dutton, Ph.D., from FAMU will assist on bioinformatics and statistics. Bruce Yankner, M.D., Ph.D., from Harvard Medical School and Jenny Hsieh, Ph.D., from the University of Texas in San Antonio will serve as consultants on this project.
In addition to this grant, Lee has currently another R01 investigating Mn toxicity mechanism. Lee is the director of the investigator development for the Research Centers in Minority Institutions (RCMI) U54 grant, assisting early investigators for developing pilot projects. She also serves as a member of the NIH Neurotoxicology and Alcohol (NAL) study section and the advisory committee of the Ed and Ethel Moore Alzheimer’s Disease Research Program at the Florida Department of Health.
“The award represents an outstanding achievement for Dr. Lee, for the University, for the College, and for the RCMI Center,” Karam F.A. Soliman, Ph.D., associate dean for Research & Graduate Studies, said in response to the announcement of the grant. “This award is a great testimony of her research caliber and credentials.”