PSU Accepts $1.5 Million Federal Grant for Scientific Research

December 3rd, 2010 by Adam

Plymouth State University has been awarded over $1.5 million to support faculty research related to biomedical sciences. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding was awarded under the National Center for Research Resources IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE) program. The INBRE program is designed to promote the collaboration and sharing of resources among investigators at colleges and universities in states which receive low levels of NIH support, in an effort to build infrastructure and enhance competitive research. Dartmouth College is the lead institution in the statewide effort, which involves a total of ten colleges and universities, including PSU and UNH.

At PSU, three research grants were awarded to investigate subjects ranging from rehabilitation sports therapy to the study of genes involved in neurotoxin production to the understanding of molecular mechanisms underpinning circadian rhythms. Associate Professor Dr. Marjorie King (Health and Human Performance) and Assistant Professor Dr. Katie Rose Boissonneault (Biological Sciences) each received two years of initial funding to develop relatively new research programs at PSU. The third grant was awarded to Biological Sciences Professor Dr. Chris Chabot, who received five years of funding to conduct his ongoing study of biological clocks.

Interim Associate Vice President for the College of Graduate Studies, George Tuthill, coordinated the application from PSU, which included multiple PSU proposals from which the three projects above were selected. He will continue to work closely with the lead investigators and play a significant role in communication among PSU, Dartmouth, and UNH.

“INBRE will provide PSU faculty and students with wonderful opportunities to engage in significant on-campus research projects as well as the chance to build collaborations with colleagues at institutions across the state,” Tuthill said.

Biological Sciences Professor Chris Chabot, Matt Sebas, undergraduate Biotechnology student and Shiwha Park, graduate student in Biology, examine a small horseshoe crab as part of PSU’s INBRE grant study
Left to right, Biological Sciences Professor Chris Chabot, Matt Sebas, undergraduate Biotechnology student and Shiwha Park, graduate student in Biology, examine a small horseshoe crab as part of PSU’s INBRE grant study.

Chris Chabot and his PSU students have spent several years studying horseshoe crabs, specifically their internal “clocks” and how the sun and tides affect their behavior. They are now seeking to learn more about the molecular mechanisms of biological clocks, how multiple clocks are coordinated, and what substances might mediate the influences of clocks on various behavioral and physiological functions. Results from the proposed studies will be relevant not only to diseases that are associated with a disruption to these rhythms such as Seasonal Affective Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, drug addiction and sleep disorders as well as cancer but also to an understanding of the control of dozens of bodily functions that vary by time of day and which are in some cases controlled by different clocks.

“This grant and other recent grants that PSU has received will really light a fire,” Chabot said. “I believe people around New Hampshire will start to hear more about Plymouth State in terms of research findings and grants. While we haven’t traditionally been a research institution, this grant will help the culture of research flourish here at PSU and thus provide more science-based job opportunities for our students in the future.”

Katie Rose Boissonneault is a new assistant professor in the Biological Sciences Department. She has been involved in mentoring undergraduate and graduate research students since she arrived at PSU in the fall of 2008. Her research is focused on investigating genes involved in toxin production by the marine diatom, Pseudo-nitzschia multiseries, which causes amnesic shellfish poisoning.

“I am excited to have this opportunity to develop a research program with my students. The INBRE funding will provide needed supplies and equipment that will enhance our undergraduate research programs and teaching labs. This funding has already led to increased collaboration among our faculty at PSU, as well as with faculty at other universities in NH. While I will continue previous collaborations that I had before coming to PSU, this just opened up exciting opportunities for me and my students here in NH.”

For more information about this release, contact Bruce Lyndes, PSU Media Relations Mgr., (603) 535-2775 or