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Strack receives $1.3 million grant to study neuroprotective proteins

A University of Iowa research team led by Stefan Strack, Ph.D., professor of pharmacology in the UI Carver College of Medicine, will use a four-year, $1.3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study proteins that may help protect brain cells from stroke.

Strack's team is studying proteins that function on the mitochondria of brain cells. Mitochondria are essential cellular structures that produce the energy that allows cells to survive when challenged by disease or injury. During a stroke, brain cells die because the mitochondria fail to meet the energy demands caused by lack of oxygen and nutrients.

The research team has discovered a molecular switch that controls destruction or preservation of mitochondria. Their research shows that certain proteins involved in this switch mechanism can protect brain cells from stroke by allowing mitochondria to work more efficiently. The researchers hope that a better understanding of how these mechanisms protect brain cells might lead to development of new therapies for stroke and neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Strack previously received a one-year, $300,000 grant from the NIH to fund early work on this project. The results of the preliminary studies allowed him to secure this new multi-year award.

Anil Chauhan, Ph.D., UI assistant professor of internal medicine, is co-investigator on the grant. Chauhan and his team will carry out stroke studies using experimental models of the disease.

For more information about the research, visit Strack's website.

Story Source: UI Health Care Marketing and Communications, 200 Hawkins Drive, Room W319 GH, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1009

Media Contact: Stefan Strack, Pharmacology, 319-384-4439; Jennifer Brown, UI Health Care Marketing and Communications, 319-356-7124