Clarkson receiving $440,120 to study human diseases using zebrafish
Monday, June 28, 2010 - 2:32 pm

POTSDAM – Clarkson University is receiving federal funding for the school to study developmental defects and diseases, according to Congressman Bill Owens.

The National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive, and Kidney Disease has awarded Dr. Kenneth Wallace, Associate Professor of Biology at Clarkson University, a grant in the amount of $440,120. Owens’ office has announced.

The funding will allow Wallace and his staff to study human diseases using zebrafish as a research model. These small tropical fish, which are commonly found in pet stores, have similarities to the genetics and physiology of human organ development. As a result, characterization of defects in zebrafish genes provides information on how to treat human developmental defects and diseases.

Clarkson President Tony Collins said, “Funding from the National Institute of Health for Dr. Wallace’s project underscores Clarkson’s role in advancing research that can lead to commercial solutions for disease prevention and management.”

This grant will fund research in Wallace’s laboratory investigating the role of the intestinal serotonin signaling system, which involves communication between cells that aid in digestion. Alteration of this system can result in altered motility and disease states such as irritable bowel syndrome and celiac disease.

Wallace said, “In addition to advancing research that contributes to better healthcare solutions, the supported research will allow both undergraduate and master’s students to be engaged in a problem-based approach to learning. Working on research problems and interpreting data will provide students with improved analytical skills, which help in all aspects of decision-making. Importantly, the research experience allows students to find out how the information in their textbooks is generated. Participation in this research also gives students a professional experience that may help them decide on whether a career in research is something they want to pursue.”

Dr. Wallace’s teaching interests include developmental and molecular biology and comparative vertebrate anatomy. Wallace has published numerous highly cited papers and has delivered presentations at many international conferences. He is also chair of the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee and a member of the faculty senate.