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Stimulus Bill Funds ECU Projects

By Doug Boyd

ECU researchers have received nearly $4 million this year in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds, also known as the stimulus bill, with Brody School of Medicine researchers accounting for nearly $1 million of that total.

Dr. C. Jeffrey Smith, professor and chairman of microbiology and immunology, received $334,000 to continue his study of the microbe Bacteroides fragilis and abdominal infection.

Dr. David Tulis, an associate professor of physiology, received two grants worth a total of $262,422. One grant will fund a two-year summer research experience for a high school science teacher, and the other is a two-year administrative supplement Tulis plans to use for hiring a post-doctoral trainee. Tulis’ primary research focus is molecular, cellular and functional mechanisms that underlie aberrant vascular smooth muscle growth.

Dr. Daryl Neufer, professor of physiology and exercise and sport science and director of the ECU Metabolic Institute, received $188,000 for the purchase of a clinical analyzer. Neufer’s research focus is deciphering the molecular mechanisms governing mitochondrial bioenergetics and function in the context of the etiology of metabolic disease.

Dr. Ann O. Sperry, associate professor of anatomy and cell biology, received $143,000 to study whether a protein recently discovered in her laboratory influences the activity of a key regulatory molecule in cells. Results from her work will provide important information about how the organization of the cytoskeleton is controlled during normal development and how disruption might cause pathogenesis and disease.

Dr. Barbara Muller-Borer, an assistant professor of cardiovascular sciences, received $44,000 as part of a larger grant to Duke University to study what drives a stem cell to become a cardiac myocyte, or muscle cell, that could repair damaged heart tissue.
The government turned down an application for $10 million in stimulus funds to finish the fourth floor of the East Carolina Heart Institute at ECU into research labs.

This story appeared originally in the Dec. 21, 2009 issue of Pieces of Eight. An archived version of that issue is available at http://www.ecu.edu/news/cs-admin/poe/2009/1209/December-2009-Archives.cfm.