March 04, 2004

SIUC wins federal grant for cancer research

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. - A research project that may help unlock the biology behind cancer cell development is under way at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

The National Institute of General Medicine of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently awarded a grant to the SIU School of Medicine for research on chromatin remodeling and transcription repression.

Blaine Bartholomew, an associate professor in biochemistry and molecular biology on the Carbondale campus, is project director. Researchers will look at the process behind how DNA is made into RNA, he said.

DNA is the storage of all genetic information and RNA is the signal that goes to the rest of a cell and tells it what to do. The model system for the project is saccharomyces cerevisiae, otherwise known as budding yeast, the same material used in making bread, said Bartholomew.

We are trying to better understand gene regulation and the developmental processes that lead to cancer," he explained. "We have developed an approach looking at protein DNA interactions that allows us to look at the fine details of how this works."

The renewable, four-year grant begins in May, and includes first-year funding of $221,650. Bartholomew anticipates about six graduate students and research technicians will participate in the project.

It's definitely great because it allows us to do other research and expand what we are looking at," he said of the award.

U.S. Rep. Jerry Costello, D-Belleville announced the grant on Wednesday.

Federally funded research results in many positive developments for society and SIUC continues to distinguish itself by the quality of its academic contributions. I will continue to support these efforts," he said.

Leading in research, scholarly and creative activities is among the goals of Southern@150, the long-range blueprint for the development of the University by the time it celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2019.

For more information on the project, contact associate professor Blaine Bartholomew at 618/453-6437.