Lake Forest College News

College joins prestigious group of Parkinson�s research grant recipients
Lake Forest, Ill. � Lake Forest College, led by Associate Professor of Biology Shubhik DebBurman, has been awarded a $50,000 research grant from the American Parkinson Disease Association to continue his work on the Parkinson�s disease-causing protein, alpha-synuclein.

�This grant broadly exemplifies innovative faculty-student collaborative research that exists across the science departments at our college,� says DebBurman. �Our grant history accentuates what we do best: develop exceptional students by collaborating with them as scholars.�

The College is by far the smallest higher-education institution to receive one of the grants, among them the University of Chicago, Johns Hopkins University, and Columbia University.

�Our students can feel confident that the medical-research community values the research they conduct and publish,� DebBurman adds. �And, our ideas can compete on equal terms with those from prestigious research-oriented institutions.�

As part of the grant, DebBurman has appointed three students, named American Parkinson Disease Association Forester Scholars, to assist him: Alexandra Ayala �09, Ray Choi �09, and Michael Fiske �10, all of whom are already working on summer research with DebBurman.

�Private biomedical foundations like APDA do not expect or seek undergraduate involvement � they simply look to fund the best grant proposals. The ideas that seed my grant proposals regularly come from my students. That this approach is seen as meritorious by diverse granting agencies provides outstanding validation of our students as intellectually mature critical thinkers.�

Parkinson disease is a fatal and incurable brain illness that afflicts millions worldwide. The precise killing of less than 1% of our brain cells causes the slowness of movement, and eventual paralysis and death. In those dying brain cells, a protein called alpha-synuclein takes on a deadly near-indestructible shape, and this causes a toxic build-up. Devising ways to speed up alpha-synuclein�s removal from these cells may be an effective way to design future drugs.

Part of the grant money will also go toward purchasing molecular-biology research supplies.

DebBurman has now received more than $700,000 in grants since arriving at the College in 2001.

Ayala won the top undergraduate poster award at the Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics Conference in Chicago earlier this month.

Lake Forest College is a national liberal arts institution located 30 miles north of downtown Chicago. The College has 1,400 students representing 45 states and 65 countries.

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Contact: Will Pittinos
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